Once in 20 years’ chance
Strike while the iron is hot is a well-worn but very apt saying. It’s certainly entirely appropriate in the current state and federal political and fiscal environments. The stars are aligned folks and the LGAQ is doing its level best to leverage even more money out of Canberra and George Street, and especially the Queensland Government’s pre -election budget.
That's despite the fact our batting average over the past year on securing more money for our member councils already totals a staggering $600m. The LGAQ absolutely gets that this very-good-time councils are experiencing won't last - and that's not being defeatist, just practical.
It’s been 20 years since we have seen this sort of money flowing our way. Our goal is to hoover up every possible grant dollar over the next few years. There are plenty of would-be recipients lining up to share in the increased spending; we want to be first across the line and aren't being shy in our budget submissions.
So, what does that mean for our members. Firstly, can I make another heartfelt plea to spend the money as quickly as possible, don't save it for a rainy day. In tight political circumstances both the State and Federal Government want to see job-creating programs right now, not in six months or a year’s time.
Councils have a great reputation for not game playing and just getting on with no-frills, no-nonsense delivery of programs. There is certainly no creaming or skimming of project funds. We can hold our collective heads high on that front. Spending $600 million wisely and quickly is a large challenge, but one we must meet to stay front of mind and first in line.
Secondly, when it comes to your own council’s pre-budget planning, put some extra money aside to help facilitate the process of securing and spending the expected high levels of grant money. That’s not to be confused with matching or similar contributions which may (or may not) be required with extra state and federal funds. This is the prudent and wise thing to do: spend a bit more to secure a lot more.
By the way, greetings from Julia Creek, where I am sitting in a meeting of the North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils at the end of what has been a super busy week.