Queensland Councils are continuing requests to the State Government and the Opposition to address the lack of critical funding for local road, water and sewerage infrastructure.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor, Mark Jamieson, said that Queensland Councils had voted resoundingly at the LGAQ Annual Conference in Gladstone for extra funding from the state level to address essential infrastructure requirements.
“Roads, water and sewerage are the core ingredients of sustainable, viable and liveable communities and the foundations for economic development and social wellbeing – and councils cannot address this issue alone, given the financial sustainability challenges that some of our member councils confront every day,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“We welcomed the Premier’s announcement restoring Works for Queensland to $100 million a year over the next three years for the 65 councils outside south east Queensland, and are delighted this invaluable program enjoys support from the State Opposition.
“But the elephant in the room remains that funding for the economic and social fabric of all Queensland communities – road, water and sewerage infrastructure – is well behind what it needs to be – and has been for a considerable period of time.
“We are now just 12 months from the next State Election and Queensland’s 77 councils are imploring both major parties to step up to the plate and address what is increasingly becoming an insurmountable challenge.
“Put simply, the annual local road funding through the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS) has not kept pace with inflation for many years – despite the LGAQ’s persistent calls for this to be addressed – and the value of this program has been further eroded in recent years by rapidly escalating costs of materials and labour.
“Much of the water and sewerage infrastructure across the state – the lifeblood of our communities – is close to or long past its useful asset life.”
Mayor Jamieson said that this is a problem that both major political parties have been aware of for over a decade, and that councils are not asking for anything more than what their communities need and deserve.
“Councils are the closest level of government to their communities, the most trusted, and we are asking for fair, firm and sustainable funding to deliver what our communities expect,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“We need both sides of politics to come to the table now, work with our councils and commit to addressing this funding need.”
Queensland Councils voted at the LGAQ Annual Conference for the State Government to commit to increasing the TIDS, which has not had a meaningful increase since 2015.
“Construction costs are going up in some areas by as much as 28 per cent per kilometre of road, but TIDS funding has flatlined,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Without a funding increase, this program will provide fewer kilometres of road, support fewer jobs in rural and regional Queensland, and fewer road safety improvements – which puts lives at risk.
“Putting the funding for this program on the right footing is also essential if we are to have any prospect of ensuring the road infrastructure exists to accommodate the Queensland Government’s ambitious Energy and Jobs Plan to support the rollout of major renewable energy across regional Queensland.”
Councils also called on the State Government to establish a Sewerage and Water Infrastructure Development Scheme to provide funding.
“Subsidies and funding for regional water and sewerage providers need to be reinstated to enable regional councils to maintain ageing assets,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The water and sewerage infrastructure cliff has been known since 2008 – and our ratepayers should not be left to shoulder the burden of remedying chronic underfunding since that time.
“All councils are prepared to work with Government and Opposition to address these problems. This is not a political issue – it is about the future viability of our communities.
“Because after all, we are all – State and local governments – representing the same constituency – Queensland communities.
“We will also be highlighting to both State and Federal Governments the need for firm, recurrent funding for councils and the need to halt cost-shifting – which is requiring councils to make choices between vital community services because they are being forced to spend ratepayer money where other levels of government have pulled back or pulled out.”