Federal Budget should provide grassroots investment says Mayor

Isaac Region Mayor Anne Baker is calling for grassroots investment in local communities from the Morrison Government on the eve of its final Budget before the Federal election.

“Here in the Isaac, we expect a genuine commitment from both sides of Federal politics to investing in a region which is responsible for delivering much of this nation’s wealth and prosperity through our strong resources sector,” Mayor Baker said.

“That includes a big contribution to some $5 billion in mining royalties and an extra $1 billion in company tax paid by the Queensland resources sector this year, which we absolutely believe higher levels of government should reinvest in regional Queensland, particularly Bowen Basin communities.

“We support the proposal from the Queensland Resources Council to advocate for the creation of a Maroon Fund from this Budget windfall for this purpose.”

Mayor Baker said as a region, the Isaac was not about to be taken for granted.

“This pre-election Budget is an opportunity for the current administration to demonstrate that commitment by putting dollars on the table for local grassroots projects,” she said.

Mayor Baker said Council wanted to see continued investment in road infrastructure on significant transport routes across the Isaac region.

“A well-maintained road network is crucial for not only the connectivity of our region, but also for the efficient and effective transportation of freight in support of our resources and agricultural sectors,” she said.

“The Bruce Highway between Marlborough and Sarina not only links our Isaac coastal communities but is a crucial national corridor and requires much-needed improvements.

“We would also like to see continued support for the National Bridges Renewal Program which provides 50% co-funding to help councils like ours to replace ageing infrastructure across regional Australia.

“Our priority bridge project is the $16.78 million replacement of Phillips Creek Bridge on Saraji Rd between Moranbah and Dysart. This low-level crossing needs to be rebuilt to improve flood resilience and safety.”

Mayor Baker said the region had been incredibly disappointed that the Fitzroy and Gregory Development Roads were left out of the Coalition’s $500 million commitment to Queensland’s Beef Road Network.

“Isaac region is home to Queensland’s second largest cattle herd, so we’d like to see this recognised through investment in these two crucial roads, but also investment in regional routes such as Eaglefield Road, Laglan Road, Golden Mile Road and Daunia Road which are important for industry,” she said.

Mayor Baker said successive governments from both sides of politics had significantly reduced the level of direct financial assistance provided to local councils and it was time to address the growing imbalance.

“20 years ago funding provided to local councils through Financial Assistance Grants represented about 1% of Commonwealth tax revenue. Today, that figure has fallen to just over half a per cent,” she said.

“We are continuing to go backwards in terms of financial support, yet expectations in terms of service and infrastructure delivery continue to grow.

“Last financial year, Isaac region received close to $5.2 million in Financial Assistance Grants, and we’re grateful for this assistance, but if the funding pool was restored to 1% of taxation revenue, we might expect up to $10 million in Financial Assistance Grants. That’s a big difference and we could do a lot in the Isaac with an additional $5 million each year.”

Mayor Baker said such a funding boost could be invested in local initiatives such as the Clermont Water Enhancement Strategy and improvements to community facilities and amenities across Isaac towns.

1 April 2019

/Public Release. View in full here.