Councils welcome federal inquiry into fair funding

Published: 21st March 2024

The peak body for Queensland councils has welcomed a federal inquiry into local government financial sustainability announced today. 

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Chief Executive Officer Alison Smith said the new inquiry will help to answer the association's call, following its release of a landmark report into cost-shifting onto Queensland councils in January.    

“The LGAQ’s cost shifting research found councils – and their ratepayers – are being forced to cover a $360 million black hole every single year, up 378 percent since we last tallied up the cost shifting burden two decades ago,” Ms Smith said.    

“That’s money that could otherwise be spent on core council services, which ratepayers rightfully expect.    

“Instead, our cost shifting research has found that Queensland councils are doing the work of others by running post offices, aged care and child care; rebroadcasting free to air television; operating morgues; owning and managing concrete plants.   

“Councils have reached a tipping point. They either need fair funding to continue to provide these services; or they need the levels of government whose responsibility these other functions belong to, to shoulder their fair burden. This is precisely what the inquiry needs to interrogate and help rectify.”   

Ms Smith said the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport was expected to explore council financial sustainability and funding frameworks, alongside the changing infrastructure requirements and service delivery obligations for local governments.   

“This ties directly to what local government has been saying about unsustainable cost-shifting onto councils and ratepayers from the other levels of government and the private sector and highlighted with the LGAQ’s landmark cost shifting report released in January,” Ms Smith said.   

“Every Queensland community deserves to be a liveable community but delivering core services is undercut every time councils have to step in and pick up the tab when other levels of government and the private sector stop delivering on their responsibilities – or seek to shift these to councils, with low or no funding to do so.     

“In a cost of living crisis, these bills simply can’t be pushed down onto communities and councils already fighting hard to stretch every dollar.    

“In these tough economic times, more than ever the community relies on the free and low-cost core services that councils deliver – libraries, pools, aquatic centres, school holiday programs, community events, concerts, heritage trails and more.    

“The LGAQ is looking forward to presenting the federal inquiry with the information they need to help councils secure a fairer funding deal to ensure all Queensland communities are liveable ones, and none are left behind.” 

See the LGAQ's Cost Shifting report here.

For more information, please contact:
Dan Knowles, Media Advisor