Weekly Speak CEO Column
Rural water and wastewater infrastructure
As flagged last week, I’m pleased to report that the Palaszczuk Government has agreed to delay the introduction of its waste levy until 1 July 2019. Importantly, the LGAQ’s concerted lobbying has also won a moratorium on including road scrapings in waste levy net for certain rural and regional councils until 30 June 2022.
This has been a long battle but one waged with respect on both sides. I want to reiterate my praise last week of the attitude that ministers have taken to negotiating with the LGAQ on waste reform. They were ready to see the issue from councils’ point of view, accept some our advice, and come to a deal. It was a good outcome all around.
We will take that problem-solving mindset into our next policy challenge, the state of water and wastewater infrastructure, particularly in regional Queensland ,and what to do about it. There is a looming crisis in this key area of local government business, simply because a lot of the pipes and fittings that deliver the daily miracle of fresh, clean drinking water out of our taps is growing increasingly old and obsolete.
There is room here for innovative solutions, wise investment and big picture thinking. In short, those qualities that local governments need to apply every day if they are to represent their communities as best they can.
Speaking of infrastructure, it was also the hot topic at the Australian Local Government Association’s National Roads Congress in Alice Springs this week. LGAQ President Mark Jamieson, ALGA Board representative and Redland Mayor Karen Williams and our general manager of advocacy Sarah Buckler all took the trip to the Red Centre.
It was where ALGA released its latest State of the Assets report showing there was $30 billion of community assets across Australia are in poor condition. These include roads ($13.6 billion nationally), buildings ($5.5 billion) and, no surprise, of course water and wastewater ($5.1 billion).
Show me a better reason for councils to get behind the campaign to ensure all parties contesting next year’s federal election promise to restore financial assistance grants to at least 1 percent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue.
And wasn’t it great to see the rain this week bring some relief to our parched regions, particularly in the south-east and central west? I was lucky enough to see the smiles it brought first hand in vibrant Quilpie where the South West Local Government Association of Queensland was meeting to decide, among other things,how to ensure its communities can best deal with the impact of drought.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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