Councils, we need your local battleplans

Published: 1st May 2020

Our $608 million job-creating Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities has made some serious advances since it was launched just two weeks ago. 

The plan – which includes proven economic stimulus initiatives designed to create more than 14,000 jobs statewide - captured the attention of the public and now it has captured the attention of the major parties as well.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington wrote to all 77 mayors this week congratulating them on their election and fully endorsing the battleplan and committing to implement it and its initiatives should the LNP win government at the October 31 State Election.

The commitment demonstrates that our placed-based approach – an approach that is adaptive and flexible to local needs and offers tangible signposts to the community - is the type of clear-thinking response that needs to be provided during times of uncertainty.

Local leadership, informing a locally-led recovery and directing investment and offering hope to the many who have been deeply impacted across all sectors and all parts of the state will be a critical line of defence.

The Palaszczuk Government has also shown interest in the plan. 

The Premier’s initial response has been she is always willing to work with councils and wants to know what projects councils have that are ready to go.

The LGAQ will be now asking councils to prepare their own local battleplans including the “shovel-ready” projects you can get under way as soon as money is committed.

We need to avoid the “spray and pray” approach.

These projects should be consistent in size and funding to those that have previously been funded through programs like Works for Queensland or Building our Regions and projects that can get under way within a matter of weeks or months.

Delivering projects that are rapid, scalable and provide support to every community across the state will build not just resilience but future strength in recovery.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning - whose council and community rely on and support passenger movements 30 times the size of their population – says if his council is supported to initiate some key community infrastructure projects, he can have jobs created in a matter of weeks.  Projects that would set up the region to strengthen its product offering, diversify its economic base so that when borders reopen, they are positioned to take full advantage. 

Stories like this exist across the spectrum of initiatives within the battleplan and in each of the councils across the state.

  • Projects that will feed the industries and sectors critical to our past and our future.
  • Projects that will build back better and diversify regional economies to future proof and mitigate against cyclical and global challenges.
  • Projects that will protect and adapt local workforces as we embrace a new normal.

But we need your help. We will be asking all councils to tell us and their communities what would be in their local battleplan.

Details will be sent to councils shortly on how we will be collecting these projects.

Timing is everything, and the LGAQ certainly got the timing and content pitch of the battleplan spot on. Not just because it relies on proven partnership programs or founded in economic logic but because it provides hope to communities and signals to the market that they can pivot towards and build on. 

As my dear departed Dad would say the harder you work the luckier you get. As developments occur over coming weeks and months the LGAQ will continue to provide updates to members on the battleplan’s progression and will work harder than ever on your behalf to make your local battleplan a reality.  

The sooner the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities gets the green light, the faster we can create jobs and start the flow of money to local businesses, local contractors, local laborers.

The second big development for the week was the signed certified agreement with the QSU in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to give council workers more flexibility as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 public health shutdown.  The QIRC yesterday approved temporary changes to the award covering those council employees most impacted by the pandemic, about 60 per cent of the state’s 40,000-strong local government workforce.  It followed an agreement reached between the LGAQ, The Services Union and The Professionals Australia (APESMA).  The changes will make it easier for employees to be redeployed to other areas of a council’s business, work more flexible hours and get early access to some forms of leave, such as long service leave. This will enhance job security for many in our workforce.

I want to thank The Services Union and their secretary Neil Henderson for their willingness to work with the Association to find ways to strengthen job security for many council workers at a time when councils’ finances and work practices are under significant challenge. Changes will be in place until June 30.

Despite all the positives, we remain disappointed at the Federal Government's decision not to include local government in its JobKeeper program or recognise this event through normal disaster funding arrangements. This has made it very challenging for councils with this decision putting councils and their workers at a disadvantage compared to workers in other sectors.  Our advocacy with the Federal Government will therefore continue on a number of fronts.  Communities expect all levels of government to work together.  When you hold 80 per cent of the public funding and local government offers an embedded agent in every community across the nation, it defies reason to not resource it as a front line of defence.  While we look forward to the advances of the State Government, the Federal Government is also clearly in our sights.

On a final note, you have no doubt noticed the LGAQ is asking for a lot of information from members as we navigate this challenging time.

We thank you for bearing with us as we continue to advocate on your behalf.