The Darling Downs and South West Queensland Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) has agreed to support the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) campaign for one percent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue to be directed for Financial Assistance Grants for Local Government.
DDSWQ Chair Cr Paul Antonio said that amongst the fundamental challenges of South West Queensland was the financial sustainability of local government.
“Local government raises just three percent of all taxation revenue in Australia but manages around 33 percent of the public assets, Cr Antonio said.
“It is imperative that there is a long-term sustainable distribution of taxation revenues between the levels of government that reflect the responsibilities of Councils.
“The work that all councils perform across their communities justifies state and federal government support,” said Cr Antonio, who also is Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council.
“Local government has gone about as hard as it can in terms of funding its services through rate income alone. Ratepayers should not have to totally fund items such as the provision of essential infrastructure.
“The LGAQ is the start of a serious conversation around a workable, non-competitive funding model that will guarantee that councils can build parks, roads, sewers and stormwater infrastructure.
“There are high expectations on local government service delivery and we need another guaranteed funding stream to ensure we meet this demand.
“Local Government’s share of taxation revenue from the Commonwealth Government has been declining over recent years so that Financial Assistance Grants are now approximately 0.55% of taxation revenue.
“Last year at its meeting in Charleville, DDSWQ supported a call for all levels of government to finalise a more workable funding model to allow local government to continue its extensive programs with certainty.
“The LGAQ’s campaign is a real opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to return money to local communities faster
“We are the community builders and are in the best position to plan and understand our respective communities’ needs.”
Friday’s meeting covered a broad agenda with discussion around regional development, health, transport, tourism, water and waste at Friday’s Darling Downs & South West Queensland Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) meeting at Dalby.
Cr Antonio said there is an impatience from the DDSWQ Mayors about the need for an integrity freight solution for the region.
“The Mayors are keen to see the Inland Rail project progress as well as any associated upgrades of feeder infrastructure into the rail network.
“The meeting was also reminded of the significance of health as a region-wide issue and particularly the challenge of attracting a skilled workforce of health professionals into rural and regional areas.
The meeting included presentations from ARTC, Murray Darling Association, LGAQ, Regional Development Australia and medical education representatives during a wide-ranging discussion on the significant issues for the region.
“We also discussed the impact of drought on our river systems and the broader effect this is having on the Murray Darling Basin.”
Cr Antonio said he was pleased to note a number of high profile speakers in attendance at Dalby including the Queensland Integrity Commissioner, Dr Nikola Stepanov and the new Queensland Independent Assessor, Kathleen Florian, Chief Executive Officer of the Murray Darling Association Emma Bradbury and Regional Director, State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning John Bird.
There was also presentations by RDA DDSW chair Professor Jim Cavaye, plus a range of health, LGAQ ARTC and business development officials, Cr Antonio said.
Cr Antonio said the group was an important forum for promoting the unique and wide-ranging issues facing the member councils.
Caption: Mayor John Ferguson (Bulloo Shire), Mayor Tyson Golder (Maranoa Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh (Western Downs Regional Council), Mayor Paul Antonio (Toowoomba Regional Council), Mayor Graeme Scheu (Goondiwindi Regional Council), Mayor Tracy Dobie (Southern Downs Regional Council), Mayor Richard Marsh (Balonne Shire) and Mayor Lindsay Godfrey (Paroo Shire and deputy chair) gather for Friday’s Darling Downs & South West Queensland Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) meeting at Dalby Events Centre.
(Absent from photo: Mayor Stuart Mackenzie (Quilpie Shire), Mayor Annie Liston (Murweh Shire Council))