Queensland councils have been doing the hard yards trying to keep their communities safe and their local economies strong and this week, the Commonwealth recognised those efforts with a Budget boost for local government. On Tuesday night, the Federal Government showed us it was putting its faith in us by going big and hard in its delayed 2020-21 Budget. That includes an extra $200 million over two years for Queensland councils under the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. That is on top of the more than $100 million for Queensland councils announced by the Federal Government under the LRCIP program in May.
Importantly, the Federal Government has also allowed councils to access its 100,000-place, $1 billion apprenticeship, and traineeship program. This money will help build on the good work already being undertaken in this state. Councils are able to offer training across 240 occupational areas, giving our young people and job seekers the ability to stay and earn and learn in their communities.
More money has also been announced under critical roads, bridges, and region-building programs including Roads to Recovery, Bridges Renewal, Building Better Regions, Regional Recovery Partnerships, the Regional Connectivity program, and the Transforming Australia’s Waste and Recycling Industry initiative. For more information see the attached ALGA analysis and also the EDM sent by the LGAQ to your inbox this week.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has not made any moves to increase Financial Assistance Grants going forward. This is unacceptable. This program must be increased to one percent of federal taxation to ensure the economic sustainability of councils and their communities. We will continue to push for this to occur, especially as we expect government wallets to close and their belts to tighten in the years ahead.
When you add this week’s rush of new money to the $470 million of already committed State and Federal stimulus spending going to councils, we have secured close to $700 million in funding, at least. This has topped the $608 million we have been asking for as part of the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities. Hopefully, by the end of the State Election, we will have breached this extraordinary benchmark.
To that end, we are still beavering away with all the political parties to secure every possible last cent and commitment for councils. Our second LGAQ Election Scorecard was sent out last Monday and the final version will be released closer to the October 31 poll. If you have not already, visit our voteforlocal.com.au website to see the results. The State Election will of course be a major feature of our Annual Conference at the Gold Coast from 19-21 October, with polling day just 10 days after our AGM.
Labor has this week committed to continuing the highly successful Works for Queensland program, welcome news for our regional members. This program has created or supported more than 26,000 jobs since its inception. It works.
Another win for LG Sherlock
It was another proud week for me as LGAQ CEO with LG Sherlock’s Energy Detective winning the 2020 IT NEWS “Best Local Government Innovation Award" for generating cost savings for councils. That award follows on from international recognition at this year’s Scandinavian Data Innovation Summit, and the team’s Australian Public Sector “Blockie” win at last year’s national Blockchain Awards. All up there are now 55 councils, and private sector entities using one or more of the LG Sherlock Data Analytics tools. Local Buy NexGen’s new intelligent data analytics, Blockchain-capable procurement system has also been rolled out to councils from July 1 this year. You can see and road test all these innovations at Annual Conference.
COVID Safe Conference
On that note, just another reminder folks that this year’s Annual Conference on the Gold Coast is an official COVID Safe event. Every protection is being taken to look after the well-being of attendees. We cannot wait to see you all there.