Budget not so sweet for councils delivering community liveability

Published: 11th June 2024

Queensland communities deserve more from both sides of politics than cost of living sugar hits ahead of the election, the peak body for councils warns, and are looking for detailed, long-term grassroots funding to improve liveability across the state. 

Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive officer Alison Smith said councils would welcome the continuation of extra funding for First Nations communities and the money already announced for Works for Queensland locked into the State Budget today but warned in an election year communities are looking for more. 

“Councils will be disappointed that programs to local government that support grassroots community liveability have not received significant increased funding,” Ms Smith said. 

“Councils and communities need long term funding certainty, not sugar hits, to deliver the community infrastructure and services they need to ensure community liveability. 

“Councils also want to see an end to the cost shifting that forces them, and ratepayers, to shoulder the burden when the State and Federal Governments, and the private sector, neglect their responsibilities for proper funding. 

“The Works for Queensland funding, and SEQ Stimulus funding is good news for councils, however skyrocketing costs of construction, labour and supplies mean that councils need fairer funding, including a more equitable trunk infrastructure funding framework. 

“Increased State Government Financial Aid grants for First Nations councils for two years is very welcome, this is a great result for those 17 discrete communities. 

“Road construction and maintenance costs are continuing to soar, and while last year’s small increase to the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS) funding has been retained in this Budget, it is still well short of the funding that councils need for road construction projects.  

“Councils will be disappointed to see water infrastructure funding through Building our Regions (BoR) is only being offered for one more year; and that the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program (LGGSP) is not delivering any significant uplift to councils either. 

“Councils were the first to raise the housing crisis and put forward sensible, workable and affordable solutions that would get more families out of cars and tents and into safe and secure homes and tackle chronic overcrowding in First Nations communities. 

“While there is funding in the Budget to reduce stamp duty for some, in order for the building sector to get more houses built, more money must flow to supporting the trunk infrastructure needed to service them that councils provide.

“In the lead up to the October state election councils want to see all parties backing their local councils and communities by supporting the grassroots initiatives that have been put forward by local councils.” 

Queensland councils will welcome State Budget funding initiatives that will enhance community liveability including:  

  • The recent announcement of an additional $100 million in funding for the Works for Queensland program by the Premier, making the next round of funding $300 million over the next three years from 1 July 2024. 

  • Increased State Government Financial Aid grants for First Nations councils for two years. 

  • Establishing a Cross Border Commissioner for Queensland to improve the liveability of local communities whose lives traverse across two different states every day. 

  • Another one-year extension of last-year's increase of funding to Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS), although it is still below the cost escalation experienced by the construction sector.   

  • Additional resourcing of $3 million in 2024-25 to support the negotiation, authorisation and implementation of Indigenous Land Use Agreements for the renewal of sales permits of quarry material.  

However, Queensland councils want to see commitments from the State Government and Opposition leading into the October state election that will address grassroots service delivery and infrastructure, including: 

  • A commitment to investing a further $500 million per annum for at least four years, to support investment in core trunk infrastructure and critical renewal and augmentation of assets, including water, sewerage, drainage and road assets. 

  • Reinstatement of a funding program (like the Maturing Infrastructure Pipeline Program) to support councils to conduct business cases and plan the feasibility of projects that help develop a pipeline of works to maximise the reach of job creating State Government grant programs like Works for Queensland. 

  • Ensuring funding certainty for local community infrastructure with a guaranteed $100 million per year for Works for Queensland (beyond the current three-year program) and $50 million per year for SEQ infrastructure, indexed by CPI. 

  • Increase annual funding for the Transport and Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS) to $100 million to build safer road networks in regional communities, support almost 1200 FTE jobs and enhance flexibility to support rural communities. 

  • Reintroduce an ongoing and dedicated subsidy program such as the former Water and Sewerage Program (WASP) to assist regional councils to maintain ageing infrastructure and safe, sustainable service levels and in the immediate term, to address a backlog of necessary upgrades and renewals and make capital funding available through the continuation of the successful Building our Regions program 

  • A $10 million Net Zero Innovation Initiative that provides targeted operational and capital grant programs for councils to access to address local emissions reduction priorities and support local governments’ transition to net zero emissions. 

  • Permanently extending the Indigenous Councils Critical Infrastructure Program to deliver and manage water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure, contributing to water security and long-term environmental and public health outcomes. 

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