Funding for regional connectivity, water, bridges, apprenticeships and other programs in last night’s Federal Budget is welcome, but the peak body representing Queensland’s 77 councils is disappointed several key asks that are critical to ensuring community liveability and safety were not addressed in the final Budget before the looming Federal Election.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) CEO, Alison Smith, said the LGAQ welcomed extra funding for vital programs, such as the Bridges Renewal Program and for regional connectivity.
“The new Connecting Regional Australia initiative – to address mobile blackspots along about 8,000 kilometres of regional transport routes – is a welcome announcement to help address connectivity and road safety,” Ms Smith said.
But the restoration of Financial Assistance Grants (FA Grants) to at least one per cent, along with funding for First Nations housing and critical flood warning network upgrades were noticeably absent from the Budget papers, while funding for the highly successful Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCIP) has been halved.
For local communities to achieve the level of liveability they not only need but deserve, Ms Smith said it was vital the Commonwealth listened to councils and addressed funding for both FA Grants and the LRCIP, as well as for housing and disaster mitigation.
“Sadly, the Government has again failed to grasp the importance to Queensland communities of FA Grants, opting to allocate just 0.55 per cent of the Commonwealth tax take through this funding,” Ms Smith said.
“The LGAQ – along with its interstate and federal counterparts – has consistently called for these grants to be restored to at least one per cent of Commonwealth tax revenue to bolster the financial sustainability of local governments and enhance the liveability of every community in our state.”
Ms Smith said councils were also disappointed with the halving of funding to the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCIP).
Queensland councils had requested this funding continue at $500 million a year – nationwide – to support vital infrastructure and road upgrades, creating and supporting more than 700 jobs statewide, as well as local businesses and tradespeople.
“Halving the funding for the LRCIP will see hundreds fewer jobs supported or created, with Queensland’s allocation to drop from $131 million in 22/23 to $71 million in 23/24 and then to $50.9 million in 24/25,” Ms Smith said.
“We hope the funding announced last night is just the beginning, because FA Grants and the LRCIP are critical to communities across this state and, indeed, across the country.
“This is funding that gives councils certainty in their provision of vital services and infrastructure upkeep, helping stimulate local economies and keeping local people in work.
“Every Queensland community contributes to the economic fabric of this nation, so every Queensland community deserves to be a liveable one.”
Ms Smith said Queensland councils were hoping the Budget – handed down as more Queensland communities come to terms with flooding after another severe weather event – would include money to address badly needed upgrades to the state’s rain and river gauge network.
“Queensland is the country’s most disaster-prone state and too many of the early flood warning network’s 3,000 gauges are not fit-for-purpose, with further gauges past their use-by date and no longer reliable. This is just not good enough and it must be addressed,” Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith said it was also disappointing the Federal Budget did not address calls for increased funding for housing in remote and discrete First Nations communities and for increased funding for social housing.
“If we are to Close the Gap and improve health and education outcomes for Queensland’s First Nations communities, then there must be a commitment to real funding for housing.
“We are asking for $100 million a year for the next four years to continue the good work that was being undertaken under the former National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.”
Ms Smith said the LGAQ and the Australian Local Government Association would continue to push for further funding in the lead up to the Federal Election through the “Don’t Leave Local Communities Behind’ campaign.
“We look forward to working with the Federal Government and Federal Opposition as we head towards polling day to ensure both sides of politics have the needs of local communities front of mind.”
For more information, please contact:
Tim Cox, Communications Advisor
Local Government Association of Queensland