Queensland councils are calling on the Commonwealth to inject an additional $2 billion in well-targeted economic stimulus into communities across the country by lifting its Financial Assistance Grants funding or boosting other critical programs like Roads to Recovery.
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam urged the Morrison Government to help mitigate the impact of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
“Queensland councils stand ready to deliver stimulus in the wake of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the continuity of essential services, to assist with cushioning the impact and to help communities recover,” Mr Hallam said.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday spoke of the need for scalable and sustainable solutions. This is a scalable and sustainable solution.
“Boosting Financial Assistance Grants will allow councils to immediately roll out job-creating projects and offer economic stimulus to their local businesses while ensuring continuity of essential services as they manage the impact on their own workforce.
“This is a mechanism that has been in place since the mid-1990s and can be used to do exactly what Mr Morrison wants.”
Mr Hallam said councils – which employ more than 40,000 people state-wide and more than 200,000 nationally - have consistently proven to be the most efficient at ensuring such economic programs achieve their goals and fast.
“We need to ensure that local economic activity continues while the nation prudently manages and mitigates the risks presented,” he said.
“There needs to be an urgent injection of funding that is scalable and sustainable and responds to the local needs and circumstances of our communities.
“We urge Prime Minister Scott Morrison to pull these stimulus levers so communities can be assured, that targeted, effective stimulus is on the way.
“These measures can be adopted immediately as part of bigger suite of stimulus to support individuals and businesses.”
Mr Hallam said the effectiveness of councils in delivering stimulus was demonstrated in a recent review of the Commonwealth’s Drought Communities Program Extension by leading consultancy firm EY.
The EY review found the impact of the program was increased by allowing councils to tailor economic stimulus to suit their community’s needs.
“It also found providing stimulus directly to councils ‘likely increases the speed at which economic stimulus can reach communities by reducing administration efforts’,” Mr Hallam said.
“This is a time when all levels of government need to work together, and local councils can play a very important role as the level of government closest to the community.”
Mr Hallam said councils had also called on the Queensland Government to roll-out a stimulus package based on the successful “Works for Queensland” program which gives councils money to spend on job-creating projects in their communities.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006