Communities right across Queensland are set to benefit from a simpler, more streamlined and more efficient approach to local government grants, following the Government’s commitment to develop a new model for grant funding.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe announced the move at the Local Government Managers Australia Queensland (LGMAQ) Conference on the Sunshine Coast.
“This commitment will be a game-changer for our 77 councils, which will ultimately enable them to deliver essential infrastructure, facilities and services for their communities like never before,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It’s estimated more than $970 million, including Federal Government assistance, was allocated in infrastructure grants for local governments in the last financial year alone, so it’s imperative this funding is allocated as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“The grants model we are committed to produce for our councils will be simple, adaptable, and coordinated, so that it provides value for our Queensland communities, while being responsive to community priorities.
“Essentially, this is all about the councils, and ultimately their communities, getting the best bang for their buck through fantastic funding programs such as Works for Queensland, the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program and the Indigenous Councils Critical Infrastructure Program.”
Grant programs supporting State priorities and objectives and responding to Council strategies and needs have been grouped under six outcome focussed program streams:
- Security of essential services
- Safe and efficient road and transport network
- Resilient communities
- Sustainable natural resource management
- Community well-being
- Jobs and economic growth.
“Councils deserve certainty to plan for their communities, and the change we’re bringing about will ensure the grant programs and council investments are focused on our communities having better access to essential infrastructure, facilities and services,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“There will be a greater focus on growing business investment and opportunities off the back of the confidence generated by new infrastructure.
“And the obvious benefit will be jobs for Queenslanders to deliver new infrastructure as well as jobs well into the future.”
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam welcomed the Minister’s announcement, saying grants reform was at the heart of local councils’ drive to deliver services and infrastructure to their communities as efficiently as possible.
“Councils know better than any other level of government what their communities need in order to grow regional economies and maintain Queensland’s enviable lifestyle,” he said.
Mr Hallam said that, ahead of last year’s state election, the LGAQ called for an overhaul of the grants and subsidies framework, saying the current model hindered effective long-term planning.
“We need to achieve a baseline of funding to local government of at least $600 million a year plus indexation and a state-wide dedicated allocative annual fund for essential services and infrastructure.
“This move is a great start to achieving that program of reform, one that is fundamental to ensuring local communities continue to thrive.”
“Local governments are responsible for maintaining $150 billion in infrastructure and delivering more than 300 services to their communities every day. They need certainty in the level and form of the funding to ensure that they can plan and deliver for their communities.”
The development of the grants reform is a Queensland Government initiative and is being led by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs with the valuable assistance of key organisations such as the LGMA, the Local Government Association of Queensland and the Local Government Finance Professionals.