All political parties should support a new deal for bush communities

Published: 18th October 2020

Two more peak bodies, representing miners and the timber industry, have given their support to the establishment of a new deal for Queensland’s rural and remote communities.

It comes as the Local Government Association of Queensland calls on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor to follow suit and back the Bush Councils Compact ahead of this week’s LGAQ Annual Conference on the Gold Coast.

The Queensland Resources Council and Timber Queensland have both issued statements of support for the Compact, an historic new agreement proposed by the LGAQ on behalf of its rural, regional and remote member councils to establish a new level of collaboration between the State and bush councils to guarantee minimum standards of service delivery and infrastructure for rural and remote communities.

QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said in his statement:

“The resource industry supports 372,000 Queenslanders to work and earn across the State. Many of those Queenslanders and their families work, live and contribute in regional communities. 

“It’s important that those Queenslanders, who deliver so much, have better access to services and infrastructure. Providing quality services and infrastructure to regional communities needs funding certainty. 

“Through their work, the men and women of the resources sector are delivering the exports, royalties and economic boost that warrants a better deal.

“That’s why the Queensland Resources Council supports the Bush Councils Compact. Along with LGAQ, QFF and AgForce, we’d like to engage with the next Queensland Government on how to best support regional Queensland communities.”

Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens said in his statement of support:

“As the peak body for the timber industry, we fully support the Bush Councils Compact as a way to get a better hearing of the needs of rural and remote communities with State government. We appreciate that many bush councils and communities have particular needs and challenges not experienced in the cities.

“The LGAQ is to be congratulated on putting together this sensible initiative. The Compact would build a solid process for better policy and decision-making processes with State Government in the critical areas of regulatory impacts, services delivery, and infrastructure.

“We particularly welcome the jobs growth and economic diversification objectives of the initiative, which will require a whole-of-government focus as well as flexibility in dealing with the needs of particular regions.

“The timber industry is a regionally based industry, with many bush communities linked to forestry and timber production activities. Having more connected and thriving bush councils and communities would not only deliver better service outcomes, it would promote a better investment environment for regional industries to more fully harness their growth potential.”

It follows similar statements of support from AgForce, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation and the Queensland Country Women’s Association.

All political parties contesting the October 31 State Election have been asked by the LGAQ to support the Bush Councils Compact and to implement it within the first 100 days of the new term.

The Bush Councils Compact would require the next Queensland Government to:

  • ensure special consideration is given to how every piece of legislation and every Cabinet decision will impact Queensland’s rural and remote communities.
  • publish an annual report on the State of our Bush Communities, which includes an independent assessment of government programs and service delivery to rural and remote communities.
  • introduce a ‘Bush Champions’ scheme for Directors-General including Key Performance Indicators to ensure government program provision and service delivery to rural and remote communities are top of mind.  

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said the Katter’s Australian Party had been the first to commit to backing the Compact should its MPs hold the balance of power in the next Parliament.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington and her party have also indicated support.

Mr Hallam said the LGAQ had written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Queensland Labor asking them to back the Compact as well.

“The Bush Councils Compact is a practical, workable agreement that will ensure bush communities across Queensland are no longer left behind,” Mr Hallam said.

“It will help ensure future policies, laws and funding decisions are made while taking the unique needs of Queensland’s bush communities into account.

“The Compact was supported by Queensland councils at last year’s LGAQ Annual Conference. It would be wonderful for this to come full circle and have the support of the Premier and Queensland Labor when councils meet on the Gold Coast next week for this year’s Annual Conference.

“That way bush councils and their communities can be confident the next Queensland Government will have their needs in mind, no matter which party wins on polling day.”

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Local Government Association of Queensland