Councils warn infrastructure cuts will hurt communities

Published: 7th November 2023

The peak body representing Queensland’s councils has warned that any cuts to approved infrastructure projects would be pulling the rug out from under financially strained councils and communities.

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) President, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, said the LGAQ and member councils feared as many as 131 critical projects across Queensland could be under threat, and they were strongly opposed to the Federal Government cancelling or postponing any projects following the Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) review.

Infrastructure development stimulates economic growth by creating jobs, attracting investment and boosting productivity, Mayor Jamieson said.

“There are better ways to manage infrastructure cost pressures than simply cutting projects – critical projects that are needed to maintain or enhance the liveability of local communities in a growing state like Queensland,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“In many cases, councils have already planned and budgeted for the construction of these projects – many of which are listed in the Federal Government’s budget.

“While it is understandable for new projects to have a different set of assessment criteria, applying that retrospectively to existing projects is shifting the goalposts and will have a major impact on the future liveability of rural and regional Queensland communities.

“The LGAQ is strongly opposed to the cancellation or postponement of any pipeline projects, as this action would simply worsen the already challenging financial situation faced by vulnerable councils in Queensland.

“Such a proposition is entirely unacceptable to both the LGAQ and its member councils.”

According to a recent Queensland Audit Office report, 46 Queensland councils were at moderate to high risk of being financially unsustainable, with further pressure from costs being shifted to councils from other levels of government and the private sector.

LGAQ research has revealed that cost-shifting has soared 378 per cent in the past two decades, as reported by councils.

Instead of cutting infrastructure and other funding, Mayor Jamieson said Queensland communities deserved to have already-committed infrastructure projects delivered and for the Federal Government to also restore Financial Assistance Grants from their current 0.5 per cent of taxation revenue to their previous 1 per cent.

The vast majority of Queensland projects to be assessed by the IIP Review are essential upgrades to local road networks to improve safety, maintenance and durability.

More than 35 per cent of every kilometre travelled in Australia is estimated to be on local roads, however, unlike the Federal and State governments, councils have no dedicated means of raising revenue for road construction and maintenance, such as user, registration or other transport fees.

For more information, please contact:

Dan Knowles, LGAQ Media Advisor