Councils demands better share of mining royalties
DEBATE about Royalties for the Regions funding has divided the room at the LGAQ conference.
Mount Isa City Council mayor Tony McGrady moved a motion to see the Royality to Regions policy return to what it was originally intended to do.
He said it was essential funding from the program went directly to councils being affected by the resource industry, rather than all councils in Queensland being able to apply.
Cloncurry Councillor Keith Douglas bitterly opposed the motion, saying he "wanted to win the fight, not come second".
Mackay Regional Council Mayor Deirdre Comerford and Isaac Regional Council mayor Anne Baker were both in favour of the motion.
No vote was cased as the LGAQ representative said it was best the councillors discussed the matter together.
Calls to stop 100% forced FIFO at LGAQ
ISAAC Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker is confident her motion on a call for action against 100% forced fly-in fly-out will be backed by other councils.
Isaac and Central Highlands will move the motion at the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference today (Wednesday).
They are calling for action on the Federal Government's FIFO report.
"Out of that inquiry came 21 recommendations to the Federal Government," Cr Baker said.
"We have seen no enactment on any of those issues."
Cr Baker said it was her understanding even source regions for 100% FIFO workers, like Cairns and Brisbane, were against the work practice as well.
"We need to be very clear we are talking about the 100% forced fly-in fly-out," she said.
"And that is a significant fundamental change in work practices.
"And it has a significant impact on established resource communities and significant impact on regional cities."
Cr Baker said the current economy of her region was completely different to when the 100% FIFO mines were approved.
"Given the environment we are in now, where people have lost their jobs, and there has been a major downturn why wouldn't you make an analysis of that (approval now) and employ appropriately?" she asked.
"Local jobs for local people."
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said the motion was essential.
"We have companies coming to us saying that they want to use local employees and we want to make sure that this is supported by the policies and actions of all levels of government," he said.
LGA conference back on Wednesday
THE LGAQ conference is underway, with delegates equipped with iPads and personal hand-held electronic voting devices for this morning's debate.
The iPad allows them read the motion in full, and the mobile voting device allows them to cast their vote from their seat.
The slide show presentation will flash "vote now" and all votes will be counted instantly.
Mining boom v agriculture
WESTERN Downs Regional Mayor Ray Brown has outlined his concerns about the challenges of contending with growth in a region of booming mining and agricultural sectors.
Cr Brown spoke at the Local Government Association of Queensland conference.
He said as the farming population aged, mining had brought a wage and a lifestyle to the region for producers' sons and daughters.
"There's now a reason for these people to stay in the region and experience the regional lifestyle," he said on Tuesday.
"As a council we need to continue to plan and be proactive about extensive growth to make the region worthwhile living in for these people.
"It's about keeping housing affordable; no one can rent a house for $2000 a week.
"We need state and federal support because at the moment they aren't looking at it."
More money needed to deal with pest problems
BIOSECURITY Queensland chief officer Dr Jim Thompson told the LGAQ conference he wanted to see more than $5 million of funding go into wild dog fences, the Darling Downs Moreton Rabbit Board and the plague pest contingency fund.
"This plan would also involve regional sub-committees which would report back to the minister and the LGAQ to combat these issues."
Dr Thompson said landholders needed to be better supported with pest management strategies.
"This includes state land which takes up 62% of Queensland," he said.
Survey says one third of people believe in abolishing councils
PERCEPTIONS of local governments under-performing has prompted federal levels to step in previously, according to Professor A J Brown from Griffith University.
During his speech at the LGAQ conference he said he believed as a country, Australia was capable of achieving a meaningful reform.
But Prof Brown said he was concerned the reform might not be executed correctly and leave local governments worse off.
Prof Brown said a survey of Queenslanders revealed one third believed local government should be abolished.
Councils' wish lists focus on infrastructure
LOCAL roads, bridges and sewerage are at the top of the wish list for local councils coming up to state elections next year.
The Local Government Association of Queensland's 10-point policy plan for the election calls on parties to commit to proper funding programs including infrastructure, transport, water and flood mitigation to help create more resilient Queenslanders.
LGAQ president Margaret de Wit said after fighting for the Royalties for the Regions fund at the last election, it needed to remain a dedicated program with at least $200 million a year to invest in community infrastructure.
"There should also be adequate and ongoing state funding for major investments in water treatment facilities, bridges, roads and other transport infrastructure so that the financial burden for building these vital assets to help the state's growth is not transferred to future generations," she said.
Heated debate about State and Federal project approvals
LOCAL governments need legislative power when it comes to approving big-ticket projects.
Discussion during the LGAQ's regional resources forum became quite heated after KPMG advisor James Mathews opened the floor to discuss the current approval systems.
As the State Government approves projects on a case-by-case basis, Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the cumulative impacts that several approved projects may create was not being monitored.
With 26 operating coal mines in the Isaac region, Cr Baker said residents in her community had felt the brunt of impacts numerous projects could make when approved separately.
Other councils reported being overwhelmed during boom times when several complex Environmental Impact Statements needed to be reviewed.
Councillors urged to think outside the box for town plan
CREATIVITY is a renewable resource and it is about time local governments made better use of it.
That was the message cultural planning expert Charles Landry had for councillors at the LGAQ annual conference.
Mr Landry said society had shifted to being more nomadic, so it was essential communities were places that gave residents a sense of identity.
Towns and cities with standard practical infrastructure would lose young people to bigger hubs.
"When you look at the heart of your town, does it look like an interesting place where people would like to meet, or is just a place that has a very wide road?" he asked.
- APN NEWSDESK