Folks, as I speak to you today your Association’s Federal Budget submission is landing in the inboxes of Commonwealth Ministers.
This is arguably one of the most important Budget submissions we have issued on your behalf in years. It comes at a critical time as you continue to strive to make your communities more disaster resilient while also continuing the financial recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The economic stimulus we have fought for and won over the last 12 months has been welcomed but as you well know, Queensland councils need funding certainty going forward, especially as our governments look to tighten their belts following the COVID stimulus efforts.
Now is the time for the Commonwealth to deliver that certainty.
Prime among the Budget asks from both the LGAQ and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is for Financial Assistance Grants to be restored to at least 1 per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue. The additional money that would flow would support more than 1500 jobs including in rural and remote parts of the state. This would give councils added certainty to undertake the work their community needs to not only recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 but to continue to grow.
Both the LGAQ and ALGA are also asking for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to continue and for roads programs including the Local Roads Investment Program, Bridges Renewal, Roads to Recovery and Black Spot programs to be bolstered. And, as you may have seen in The Australian this week, we also want increased funding to flow for disaster mitigation. Right now Queensland councils have about $1 billion worth of disaster resilience projects that are ready to go.
The Federal Government has a $4 billion fund available. We need that fund to be opened up so our councils can get going. Queensland is the most disaster-prone state in the country. The Building Resilience to Natural Disasters in our States and Territories report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics estimates the cost of disasters to Queensland is on track to reach $18 billion a year by 2050.
As I told The Australian, it is in the Commonwealth’s long-term interests to fund mitigation projects. These projects will increase resilience and reduce the post disaster damages bill, therefore reducing the disaster recovery burden on the Commonwealth as well as on the State and our local communities.
These are just a few of the asks within the LGAQ’s Budget submission, with funding also sought to support drought-affected communities, increase regional connectivity and to help our First Nations councils close the gap, among other key requests. The Prime Minister had the opportunity to see some of the issues facing Queensland’s councils first-hand last week during his latest visit to the state.
The looming Federal Budget will provide the PM with the perfect opportunity to show he really listened while he was here.