Australia: Queensland State Government Update: Local Leadership and Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Last Updated: 18 June 2017
Article by Troy Webb

Local Leadership and Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Cyclone Debbie will not distract the Palaszczuk Government's focus on delivering jobs, economic opportunity and encouraging innovation in partnership with local Councils.

The importance of Local Government partnerships and local leadership in local communities has rarely been more apparent than in the heartbreaking wake and recovery phase of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has publicly acknowledged the strong local leadership demonstrated in spades by Mayors and Councillors from the north to the south east of our state, even in the early stages as Debbie began brewing strength in the Coral Sea.

As the new Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, I am in awe of the capability, commitment and leadership shown by Councils and elected local representatives in ensuring communities are prepared, safe, and resilient.

Partnerships will be crucial in the months ahead as Queensland continues its recovery and infrastructure reconstruction task from the estimated $1.5 billion impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie's destructive winds and flooding rains.

More than 40 Mayors along some 1,600 kilometres of the Queensland coast were involved in statewide Disaster Management teleconferences as the challenges associated with cyclonic winds, torrential rain and floods emerged in cities, towns and remote communities.

Councils, Mayors and Councillors know their local communities better than anyone else.

Right now, their leadership and ability to identify local priorities is crucial to sourcing and coordinating National Disaster Relief funding to rebuild infrastructure and get Queensland communities back on their feet.

Cyclone Debbie will not distract the Palaszczuk Government's focus on delivering jobs, economic opportunity and encouraging innovation in partnership with local Councils. The Palaszczuk Government has fast tracked direct funding to regional Queensland Councils for community-building infrastructure projects through the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program, or LGGSP.

Councils report the program has supported 2,350 jobs with almost 80 percent of employment opportunities occurring where they are needed most, in regional Queensland.

That is in addition to the Palaszczuk Government's $200 million Works for Queensland program that is on track to generate another 6,000 jobs outside of the South-East corner.

One Mayor I met with recently told me that Works for Queensland would not only enable the Council to build the infrastructure upgrades it needs to attract more business and tourism, but just as importantly generate wages for local contractors to reinvest in the regional economy.

Barcoo and Diamantina Shire Councils have teamed up to source State and Federal funding to roll out 550 kilometres of high-speed fibre optic cable. This technology is already making distance irrelevant and opens two outback shires to a new world of digital connectivity with unprecedented access to business, health, education and tourism opportunities.

Local Government grants totalling $1.2 million are also assisting Winton Shire Council to rebuild an Australian cultural icon – the Waltzing Matilda Centre. In 2015, the original Waltzing Matilda Centre was lost when it burned to the ground and broke the heart of an entire nation. It was a great pleasure to be in Winton recently to turn the first sod on site and kick off construction of the new Waltzing Matilda Centre.

This is important region-building infrastructure that will support up to 200 jobs and complement Winton's Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum to help supercharge tourism in outback Queensland.

The Palaszczuk Government's focus is on helping Councils to recover, partner, lead and innovate for safe, sustainable, resilient and thriving Queensland communities.

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