Why councils matter in the battle against COVID-19

Published: 3rd April 2020

From Boulia to Brisbane and everywhere in between, local councils are the frontline level of government looking after Queensland communities. They do this every day in many ways, from collecting rubbish to maintaining street lighting, providing community swimming pools, playgrounds, parks and libraries.

During the COVID-19 response and recovery periods, every Queensland council is looking firstly to support their communities as the public health impacts are brought under control. This is a critical role for councils as the situation changes rapidly and communities come under more stress.

That means looking after the health and safety of communities, on the ground.

Secondly, councils are focused on looking after the collective and economic wellbeing of communities, not just throughout the response to COVID-19, but just as importantly, during the recovery phase as well. Employment is a key factor in this equation; for our communities to endure and recharge as quickly as possible there needs to be money spent. Money to sustain as many jobs as possible now and to kick-start job creation once the recovery phase begins.

That is why local government is asking for financial stimulus packages from both the Federal and State governments.

The money we are asking for is not for councils – it is for Queensland communities.

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam explains in more detail how the Federal Government is supporting communities across the country, and why we are asking for the return of the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) to 1% of Federal revenue.

 

This money – worth about an extra $2 billion nationally - will sustain jobs and allow councils to provide rates and fee relief to their communities.

We are also asking the State Government to accelerate, increase and expand the existing Works for Queensland (W4Q) program. This hugely successful program - funded by the State and delivered by local councils - has proven job-creation at its core, and it has community support.

This funding will allow council-led, shovel-ready projects to get going quickly and efficiently, projects for better roads, updated water infrastructure and environmental repair challenges.

COVID-19 has presented a once in a lifetime challenge, but it might also, managed the right way, present a once in a generational boost to the betterment of Queensland communities and the things that matter to them. That includes jobs.

Local governments in Queensland manage and maintain 80% of community infrastructure, and they do this with less than 3% of the national tax revenue. State Government receives 14%, and the Federal Government 83% of the national tax revenue.

That is why we are asking our other levels of government to provide these stimulus packages to local government to support Queensland communities. They have the money – and we have the means.