LGAQ Head of Advocacy, Alison Smith, joins us this week to share with you some of our recent advocacy updates

Published: 28th May 2021

The LGAQ is committed to working with our members to build stronger, more resilient local communities through focussed and determined advocacy.

One of the regular interactions we have with the state government is our quarterly meetings, as part of our inter-governmental agreement. On Wednesday our President Mark Jamieson, CEO Greg Hallam, Inter-Governmental Relations manager Shayne Sutton and I had our latest regular meeting with the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles.

We had a long list of advocacy action items on the agenda – and some of the topics included our submission for next month’s State Budget, financial sustainability for councils and the recent Queensland Audit Office report, and the Goondiwindi versus Tait RMPCs issue.

We also raised the importance of Works for Queensland money being restored to $100m per year over four years.

It will be extremely disappointing if the State continues down a path of diminishing this program. Works for Queensland is a signature program and has been a shining example of what can be achieved when both our levels of government work in partnership to boost employment in regional Queensland.

In fact it works so well, and is so popular, that its structure has almost been mirrored at a Federal level through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. 

Budget belt tightening that impacts regional Queensland is simply not acceptable to the 65 councils and communities it will impact. And it is not acceptable to the LGAQ.

On a more positive note, we heard our conflict of interest submission to help remove some unintended outcomes is in progress. So, we’ll keep moving that forward to try to achieve some sensible changes.

The State Budget will be handed down on 15 June. As always, the LGAQ will analyse this in detail and provide a budget breakdown for members. Our Inter-Governmental team, media and policy experts from the Advocate team will put together some highlights, key messages and major points of interest for your reading and communications. Please look out for that material on the day.

Meanwhile, we were disappointed that the recent Federal Budget did not do much to improve Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) funding. 

We’ve raised this directly with the Federal Local Government Minister Mark Coulton. However, if you can make it to ALGA’s National General Assembly in Canberra in June, please join the LGAQ there as we will be using the event to help maintain our push for FAGs to be restored to at least one percent of federal tax revenue. That is fundamental to a sustainable future for communities across Queensland. The 27th NGA is being held at the National Convention Centre Canberra between 20-23 June. Please contact the LGAQ or go to the ALGA website for more information.

In our advocacy, when the LGAQ talks with Federal and State government ministers, it is really important that we use examples and evidence to help reinforce our messaging.

The same applies with our media messages and campaigns.

This week we wanted to highlight some examples of this:

Last weekend’s page one Courier Mail story with the Mayor of Mornington Island Kyle Yanner, highlighted poor health and social service delivery outcomes. Mayor Yanner went public with his urgent call for help last month. It captured the attention of the media across every medium and now the Premier has now committed to a visit to see for herself.

The recent public campaign by Mayors Jenny Hill and Andrew Willcox earlier this year, calling for action to address the market failure in the insurance market that has left thousands of North Queenslanders uninsured as they are unable to pay the exorbitant fees needed to insure their homes and businesses. The Federal Government has now committed to establishing a northern Australia reinsurance pool to help.

In these two examples, the LGAQ swung in behind these mayors and their communities to help spread the message. We look forward to hearing from members about issues like these where we can help to shine a light on real issues. This approach helps support our advocacy and ensure those issues are better understood publicly. 

However, much of our advocacy also takes place out of the media spotlight and behind closed doors, including meetings to progress advocacy issues; it can even extend to how we can provide support on the ground. A current example of this is through some workforce planning and communications support that the LGAQ is supplying to Wujal Wujal.  

Finally, congratulations to Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara. Mayor McNamara is a Policy Executive member, and this week received a Women in Agriculture award at the Northern Australia Food Futures conference. Well done Mayor McNamara for your work to support new ag projects, and better transport and digital communications.

And another big win this week, with LGAQ’s 2020 Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities campaign taking out yet another national award! Last night the team won the Mumbrella Comms Con award for Best Government Relations Campaign.