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Infrastructure Australia’s landmark 15-year plan for reform contains much food for thought for local governments.
While the bulk of media attention has settled on which big projects get the organisation’s tick in terms of demonstrable economic need – near the top of the list being Brisbane’s Cross River Rail – the report also delves into the structural and legislative reforms it believes are needed to ensure Australia remains an attractive place for business and investment growth.
The local government sector in Queensland is already well ahead of sectors in other states in implementing several of the changes IA urges.
Most notably, the report calls for reform to “consolidate the number of councils and increase the efficiency, service quality, financial viability and strategic profile of local government”.
In other words, a process of council amalgamation that Queensland has already gone through but other states have yet to embark on.
On road funding, Infrastructure Australia says that while Canberra has diverted significant investment in local roads through Roads to Recovery and the Black Spot programs, the funding effort should focus more on addressing “first and last mile constraints” on the nation’s road network.
And on water policy, the report calls for audits to inform “pathways to more sustainable models” including shared services and the like, a reform that is core to the investigations under the Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program (QWRAP) model implemented across much of the state outside the urbanised southeast corner.