With the announcement on Thursday of the reinstated hard border closure with NSW, the LGAQ has issued a public statement urging the State to reimburse border councils for the costs they have borne in helping the Government enact its COVID-19 related border protections.
Local government has been working hand in hand with the State and Federal governments to help keep Queensland communities safe since the pandemic began. Our border councils have stepped up without question to help the State maintain its strong border controls.
But the costs associated with providing this support are becoming a real financial burden on these councils. For some, it represents about 15 per cent of their annual general rates income. As I said in my statement, asking border councils to simply accept 15% of their rates revenue being redirected to border closure costs ultimately means their communities miss out on core council services.
Our advocacy on this issue has been continuing since our border councils first raised this with the Association and the State last year.
We spoke with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government about this last week.
We are hopeful of a resolution that not only reimburses councils for the costs already borne but also ensures they can have confidence any future costs will also be reimbursed.
Olympics must benefit all of Queensland
This week started with a trip out to South West Queensland to visit the Balonne and Maranoa councils and check in with them on issues of importance to them and their communities.
This includes everything from the need for vastly improved digital connectivity to water, housing, education and roads.
It was great to meet with the councillors on their turf in what will be one my final trips as I round out my last four months as your Association’s chief executive officer.
These communities are play a vital role in the economic and social fabric of this state and I thank Mayor Samantha O’Toole and Mayor Tyson Golder and their councillors for their time.
On our return from this trip, I like many Queenslanders, was proud to see our state successfully clinch the 2032 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner travelled to Tokyo to represent both Brisbane City Council and the local government sector in delivering the final Games pitch to the International Olympic Committee.
The Games will officially be called the 2032 Brisbane Games with Brisbane the official host city.
Our job now is to ensure communities across the length and breadth of this state also share in the infrastructure, economic and social benefits these Games will bring.
This is our opportunity to ensure the metropolitan, coastal, rural, remote and First Nations communities across this state that contribute to the unique character of Queensland – from the Cape to Coolangatta and west to the border – are recognised and taken along on this journey.
All three levels of government successfully worked together to deliver this successful Games bid and now the State and Commonwealth must work with local government to deliver the benefits our communities expect to come with such a Games bid.
I am confident these Games can benefit communities across the state.
Based on my membership of the Queensland Olympic Committee - as Chair of their fundraising committee for five years in the build up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics – I am absolutely elated by the opportunities the 2032 Games present for Queensland over the next 11 years, and beyond.
I witnessed those possibilities unfolding and becoming a reality first hand.
There were more teams training in Queensland in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics than anywhere in NSW.
This time there with be more than 11,000 athletes in more than 100 Olympic teams and many will stay and train in regional Queensland.
Cities and towns will literally be able to adopt Olympic teams.
I can see a host of new sporting facilities being built around the state to both host these teams and to encourage young Queensland athletes as well.
There will also be many world championships across an array of sports in Queensland in the five years leading up to the 2032 Games creating billions of dollars in free advertising around the world showcasing what our great state has to offer.
Best of all Queenslanders young and old will be inspired.
I have great memories of Olympic Gold Medallists visiting towns like Birdsville, Tara and Boulia and the extraordinary 1000-person Stars under the Stars dinner on the actual Longreach airport, with no less than 100 former and then current Olympian in attendance.
Be excited Queensland.
Now is our opportunity to ensure this is a Games for all Queensland and we will be pushing hard to make sure that is the case.