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Homelessness, health and transport priorities on state agenda at LGAQ conference

Ipswich City Council will propose six key motions with a focus on homelessness, health, planning and transport infrastructure at this month’s 2023 Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Annual Conference in Gladstone.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding and Division 2 Councillor Paul Tully are council’s appointed voting delegates at the conference, and will be joined by Deputy Mayor and Division 4 Councillor Russell Milligan, fellow Division 4 Councillor Kate Kunzelmann, Division 1 Councillor Sheila Ireland and Division 2 Councillor Nicole Jonic.

Mayor Harding said the six motions endorsed at the July council meeting covered a wide-range of topics relevant to the challenges and opportunities facing many councils across Queensland.

“The housing crisis is one of the most important and difficult matters facing all levels of government at this current time. While the State is tasked with the responsibility for housing and homelessness, the community generally looks to councils to step up when times get tough,” Mayor Harding said.

“While we work closely with local community service providers to undertake support and outreach wherever possible, councils are not resourced to take on the significant challenge of homelessness.

“Council is calling for more State funding for those community organisations providing critical services, as we know this challenging economic outlook will continue for some time.”

Mayor Harding added securing investment for public transport and infrastructure was a significant challenge for councils, particularly the development of business cases which are required to secure significant State or Federal funding.

“Ipswich is the fastest growing city in Queensland and has a desperate need for transport infrastructure and highway upgrades to support our growing communities.

“While these assets are generally owned and funded by the State or Federal governments, councils are often expected to financially contribute to these business cases which can cost millions of dollars.

“Council is keen to work with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, through the LGAQ, to consider a more effective process to meet the needs of our rapidly growing population,” Mayor Harding said.

Cr Tully, an LGAQ policy executive representative, said the six motions had been well-researched and formulated by councillors.

“They are not always easy to get supported at the conference. Motions have to be broader, of a bigger scale than one issue for one council, and these certainly are. Overall, we have had good debate and have the structure for what we need to be able to put these motions to the conference,” Cr Tully said.

Discussing motion number six relating to mobile phone coverage, Cr Tully and fellow councillors unanimously called on LGAQ support to “send a message to telcos and the federal government”.

“We have many blackspots in our area, rural areas in particular, and it is something we need to keep hammering. While a high percentage of people have mobile coverage, there are many physical areas in Ipswich that are not covered,” Cr Tully said.

“People pay their taxes, pay for their mobile phone coverage, and in some cases they are getting next to zero. This is a big issue, not only in Ipswich and Queensland but around Australia, and I think the Commonwealth needs to start implementing rules which it can enforce against mobile phone carriers. There has been a lot of talk but not a lot of action.”

Council’s six key motions being considered at the 2023 LGAQ Annual Conference

1.   The LGAQ calls on the State Government to commit to a regional health tour involving local governments and local health authorities to understand region-specific concerns, to improve community health outcomes.

2.   The LGAQ calls on the State Government to work with local governments to integrate their existing eplanning tools with State Government review and approval of local planning instruments.

3.   That the LGAQ works in partnership with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to review the process for the development of business cases for major transport projects, generally shifting the cost of doing so from local government back to the state, if appropriate.

4.   The LGAQ calls on the Queensland Government to significantly increase funding to local community providers for outreach in response to the housing crisis, recognising that housing and homelessness is the responsibility of the state.

5.   That the LGAQ make urgent representations to the State Government to ensure that the planned amendments to the Local Government Act 2009 regarding the Office of the Independent Assessor are progressed through Parliament as a matter of priority.

6.   That the LGAQ make representations to the Commonwealth Government to require all mobile phone carriers to ensure that key mobile blackspots in urban and rural areas are properly addressed and resolved in a short timeframe required by the Commonwealth Government.

The 2023 LGAQ Annual Conference takes place at the Gladstone Entertainment and Convention Centre from 16 to 18 October.

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