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Future in focus

Friday, 13 July 2018

The word ‘smart’ has been dominating business terminology for nearly 20 years. Smart strategies. Smart economies. Smart living. Smart mobility.

Queensland councils have woven the concept firmly into their own business as usual. It is now standard practice for communities to go for a jog under street lighting powered by the sun or to drop by their local library to learn a new language – the language of code.

This week I joined local government leaders and technology entrepreneurs in Cairns to listen to some of the world’s best in tech, to better understand the nuances of how we can continue down this path and guide the development of our urban places. It was a jam packed, and eye-opening, three days.

Our cities, suburbs and regional communities in Australia are home to over 75% of our highly urbanised population. It’s not just the latte drinking set in our capitals – it’s the people of Mount Isa, Emerald and our coastal hubs, to name but a few.

It’s a statistic which hammers home to me that every action we take now as a sector will shape how we live in the future. It’s that simple. It’s an incredible place to be in history, riding the next great wave of technology and interconnectedness.

But we should be mindful not to get too enamoured with the technical wizardry alone. These developments are at their most effective for communities when citizens are at the centre of decisions on how they are used and regulated. By themselves, the platforms and digital assets don’t disrupt. Our mindsets do that.

Our policy work on behalf of councils over the next twelve months is set to be reflective of this important moment in time for our sector.

Under the shadow of a looming federal election, we’ll join councils across Australia in calling for a restoration of financial assistance grants funding.

In 1996, the funding provided to local government under the financial assistance grant funding was equal to 1% of commonwealth tax revenue. Today, the figure has fallen to around 0.55%.

Over the same period the demands on councils have increased significantly.

We’re calling for a restoration of 1% - plus partnership funding – to ensure our future as a nation continues to look – here’s that word again – smart.

Our sector is the best placed of the three tiers of government to act with agility. I’ve seen that over the last few days and in the conversations I’ve had with you over many years.

On a final note, I’d like to recognise the launch of a new service being offered by our business arm, Peak Services. Peak Services Legal will provide specialist advice to our member councils on human resources, industrial relations and other workforce issues. Of course, the Association’s 110-year proud association with King & Company as our legal advisors remains strong and will continue.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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