In my last Mayor’s Desk I called for continued and increased investment from both the State and Federal Governments in providing greater levels of infrastructure funding for regional Queensland.
I would like to make it very clear that this call for action was not Livingstone Shire specific.
It is a call for a rethink and an improved methodology on how and where major funding is made available in order to achieve the best overall outcomes for regional growth and development.
Livingstone Shire Council has certainly appreciated the funding support we have received from both State and Federal Government; noting that historically approximately 75% of that funding comes from the State Government.
The point that must be made and recognised is that growing the regions and advancing the development of identified future growth areas of Northern Australia is a State and Federal Government responsibility.
That responsibility cannot be appropriately met when the majority of State and Federal infrastructure funding programs currently require Councils and their ratepayers to directly fund matching dollars.
For many regional communities this effectively means that if those communities cannot afford the matching dollars for major trunk, economic development or tourism enabling infrastructure then no funding is provided and no development can proceed.
This is not a smart, effective or equitable way to ensure that critical regional infrastructure is delivered where and when it is most needed.
Welcomed exceptions include the State Government’s ‘Works For Queensland’ and Federal ‘Roads To Recovery’ funding programs which do not require matching funding. The question I am asking on behalf of all regional ratepayers and taxpayers is why can’t there be more of these programs introduced.
State and Federal Governments should also align their respective objectives for regional development by pooling funding resources to realise synergies that would fast-track regional infrastructure delivery and deliver greater economic outcomes.
In a rapidly changing global economy a more pragmatic and targeted approach to infrastructure funding and delivery is critical to the future development of regional Queensland and northern Australia.