In 2015-16, the LGAQ continued to advocate for increased infrastructure funding to support councils deliver vital services to local communities and regional economies.
Federal funding program announcements included:
The LGAQ secured an appropriate engagement and a consultation mechanism with local government in the NAIF Investment Mandate (Guidelines) following its submission to the Federal Government on the establishment of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program (QWRAP): An industry-led initiative, now entering its fifth year, created to respond to the continuing calls for reform of water and sewerage services in regional Queensland. Within four years, the program has encompassed 30 councils representing 65 per cent of Queensland’s regional population and 55 per cent of its land area. Queensland Government funding has been secured through to June 2018.
Water and wastewater resources and training for Elected Members: For the first time, the LGAQ this year developed materials and training to educate councillors about drinking water and wastewater services provided by most local governments.
Roads and Transport Alliance: The efforts of Regional Roads and Transport Groups (RRTGs) to ensure full expenditure of their Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS) funding in recent years greatly assisted the LGAQ’s 2016-17 State Budget submission, in which the LGAQ lobbied for TIDS funding to be maintained at $70 million per annum beyond the previous two year commitment that commenced in 2015-16. The Association’s advocacy efforts will see TIDS funding maintained at $70 million per annum through to the end of the 2019-20 financial year.
Heavy Vehicle Management: Recognising the need to assist councils with their ‘road manager’ responsibilities under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), the LGAQ has worked with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and the ARRB Group to rollout the Restricted Access Vehicle Route Assessment Tool (RAVRAT) across the state.
Electricity Reforms: The LGAQ and Local Buy have continued to represent local government on a wide range of regulatory issues including contestable metering, demand-based tariffs and street lights through engagement sessions hosted by Energex, Ergon and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), leading to substantial savings for councils, particularly in relation to street lights. The LGAQ successfully sought a deferral in the pass through of Alternate Control Service (ACS) charges for street lights in the Ergon Energy distribution area.
Local Government’s Role in the Assessment of Major Projects: The release by the Government of its Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities (SSRC) Policy Framework and Bill provided the opportunity for the LGAQ to pursue reforms to social impact management processes.
The LGAQ also made a submission to the Independent Review of the GasFields Commission. This submission supported repositioning the Commission to have a wider role in monitoring and reporting on the economic and social impacts of the resources sector. The LGAQ is also an active participant on the Resources Community Roundtable, which is chaired by The Hon Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.
Review of Fly-In, Fly-Out Arrangements: The LGAQ has been actively involved in negotiating the wording of the Government’s draft SSRC Bill in order to ensure that local residents have fair and reasonable access to employment opportunities associated with resources projects.