Mayor's Column - Longreach Leader 18 June 2021
This column first appeared in the Longreach Leader on Friday 18 June 2021.
Good to be with you again for another of my fortnightly updates. I’ve just returned from the LGAQ Disaster Management Conference in Brisbane last week. I was joined by our CEO, Mitchell Murphy, and Council’s Disaster Management Coordinator, Craig Neuendorf. Craig is a shared resource in partnership with five local governments in the central west: Barcaldine; Barcoo; Blackall-Tambo; Winton; and Longreach.
Disaster management is a responsibility Council takes very seriously. The conference was a demonstration of how local government is working with State agencies and local communities to make Queensland safer. We heard presentations from State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner, Steve Gollschewski; Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner, Greg Leach; Inspector-General Emergency Management (IGEM), Alistair Dawson; Queensland Police Service (QPS) Commissioner, Katarina Carroll; Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) Chief Executive Officer, Brendan Moon; and Queensland Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young – who received a standing ovation.
Central West Hospital and Health Service delivered second-dose Covid vaccination clinics in Longreach last week. We’re pleased to be supporting them by hosting the clinics at the Longreach Civic & Cultural Centre. If you missed out, they’ll be back next week on 21 and 22 June. For Isisford residents, a second-dose AstraZenica clinic will be held at the Isisford Shire Hall on 23 June. It’s very important that our communities take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated. To book your vaccine, you can call Central West Hospital and Health Service on 1800 953 703, during business hours – with your Medicare card at the ready.
The CEO and I are heading off again next week, this time to Canberra, for the National General Assembly of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). Mayors and CEOs from around the country will be there, to support the advocacy of ALGA on behalf of local government and our communities. One of the main outcomes local government is campaigning for is financial sustainability assistance for communities like ours with a low rate base. Rates, fees, and charges support less than 30% of our budget, and it’s even worse for some of our neighbours. This means the balance has to be sourced from state and federal government funding programs. Chief among these are federal Financial Assistance Grants. ALGA is calling on the federal government to raise Financial Assistance Grants to 1% of commonwealth tax revenue – somewhere it hasn’t been for over twenty years. Council is gearing up to deliver its Budget on 29 July this month, so these issues are front of mind for us right now.
While we’re in Canberra the CEO and I will be taking the opportunity to meet with various federal ministers, and their staff, doing our own advocacy on behalf of some of Council’s projects for the region. We’ll be looking to brief ministers about our project to raise the weirs on the Thomson River, our grant application for stage three Longreach Main Street redevelopment, and the potential to expand the Longreach Childcare Centre to accommodate the unprecedented demand that will flow from record births this year. This is important work that Council undertakes on behalf of our community; in addition to provision of traditional services such as roads, rates and rubbish.
Until next time, you can find email and direct phone numbers and email addresses for me and each of my fellow Councillors on our website at longreach.qld.gov.au/elected-members. If you want to know anything at all, reach out to one of us - or contact Council directly on (07) 4658 4111 (24hrs), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.