LGAQ says go big, hard and early in battleplan

Published: 24th April 2020

The LGAQ this week launched its $608 million Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities – an economic stimulus package designed to help lead the state’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The battleplan includes a raft of initiatives to create more than 14,000 jobs statewide and help Queensland emerge from this disaster stronger.

We have called on the State Government to partner with councils in rolling out the battleplan to help communities from Coolangatta to the Cape.

The plan is big and bold. But it must be given the enormity of the economic crisis we are currently facing, the worst since the Great Depression.

Key initiatives include:

  • Jobs Recovery Package: A $200 million statewide job creation program modelled on the successful Works for Queensland initiative to support more than 8,000 jobs, with $100 million earmarked for the state’s southeast.
  • Green Army: A 3,000-strong workforce focused on protecting and improving the environment across the state for the benefit of critical sectors such as agriculture and tourism.  
  • Local Government Apprenticeship and Traineeship Guarantee: Providing 800 new or displaced workers with a guaranteed pathway to gain critical experience and skills.

This battleplan is not about councils or their workforce. It is about communities. It is a hand up for Queensland’s communities, small and large, not a hand-out to councils.

Importantly, the jobs this battleplan will create are all local. It will mean work for local tradies, machinery operators, suppliers and labourers.

Its benefits are many. It will inject cash into local economies quickly. It will deliver important community projects. It will be visible and give hope.

This is not a “painting rocks” program. This battleplan will meet real, existing community need.

Our plan is anchored in economic orthodoxy and is cogently argued. In other words, we are not rent seekers lining up at Treasury's doorstep.

This is a serious piece of public policy.

That’s why the launch attracted the attention it did from the media and the community, running in the metropolitan and provincial daily newspapers as well as on radio and TV.  The battleplan received favourable editorial comment with the LGAQ and councils commended for their leadership in the economic recovery phase of the pandemic disaster.

Significantly, the State Government has not ruled out partnering with us on the battleplan or some variant of it. We continue to engage with them, as well as with the Opposition.

My colleagues Sarah Buckler, Tim Cox and I took to Facebook live to explain the thinking behind the battleplan and its details on Wednesday. If you have the time, you can listen here or watch the video below.

It is important to note this is not the end of our advocacy on this front. Rather it is just the beginning.

And we are not just working with the State. The LGAQ has also been calling for the Commonwealth to work with councils on finding a way through this crisis. There will be more to say on that in due course.

This week also marked the full declaration of the results of the March 28 quadrennial local government elections.

Congratulations to the 37 new Mayors and hundreds of new councillors chosen by their communities to lead them through the new decade and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We at the LGAQ are proud to be your Association.

All 578 elected members will receive a personalised welcome from LGAQ as well as an on- boarding pack that will include digital versions of the Mayoral and Councillor handbooks.

Our highly regarded Elected Member induction programs will be delivered virtually in the coming weeks and we have bought forward the 2020 Civic Leaders Summit to June 16 and 17.

This year the Summit will be delivered virtually through some mind-blowing online conference technology we trialled during the week. It is sure to be a cracker.

Finally, yesterday I gave a verbal submission to the Parliamentary Economics and Governance Committee’s inquiry into expenditure caps for future local government elections. The LGAQ has supported the introduction of campaign spending caps for several years now.

I articulated the resolutions passed by councils at a special general meeting last year rejecting the initial caps recommended by the department and supporting the introduction of expenditure caps for local government elections set at $1 per enrolled voter for mayoral and councillor elections, with lower expenditure limits (“floors”) of $20,000 for mayoral elections, $15,000 for councillor elections in undivided councils, or $10,000 for councillor elections in divided councils; and

As I told the committee, the LGAQ agrees with the statement in the its Issues Paper that, ultimately, the success of any system of expenditure caps for Queensland local government elections will depend on the design and features of the model implemented, and the extent to which they effectively balance freedom of political communication with the need to ensure a fair process that is free from perceptions of undue influence, and which ensures standing for office is not restricted to the wealthy.

We will keep you updated on any recommendations the committee makes when they come to hand.