It is encouraging to see how councils are using imagination and local knowledge to support their communities and provide leadership in troubling times.
The decision by Toowoomba Regional Council, Queensland, to purchase nine Iveco Trucks locally through Black Truck Sales, with the fit-out also through local manufacturer, TUFF Group, demonstrates the importance of supporting regional businesses.
Greater Geelong Council, Victoria, voted unanimously this month to freeze councillor and mayoral allowances from 1 July until the end of the Council’s term in November and urge the next elected Council to continue an allowance freeze until 30 June 2021. The decision came after Chief Executive Officer Martin Cutter requested a freeze on his salary for 12 months and the City’s Executive Leadership Team and all Senior Officers of the organisation agreed to no salary increases for 12 months, a decision which affects about 50 City employees in senior positions. They are not the only council to take this action.
Most funding support must of course come from the Federal Government and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack has worked with State, Territory and Local governments to that end, identifying shovel-ready projects to help reignite the economy and get money flowing into jobs and businesses as quickly as possible.
In Western Australia, local government welcomed state and federal funding of $100 million to improve regional roads with the announcement of the Regional Road Safety Improvement Program.
The funding will ensure safer roads while providing a significant boost to regional jobs.
New South Wales’ Fixing Local Roads program will see $382 million of projects jointly funded on a 50:50 basis. The package will help to repair, maintain or seal priority council roads and see projects start construction in the next 12 months, creating thousands of jobs in the bush. The first round will deliver more than 258 projects across 83 Local Government Areas.
South Australian councils received a $1 billion stimulus from the Marshall Government to support local jobs and businesses, amounting to double the annual Planning and Development Fund, with park and playground upgrades, walking trails and public space being the focus of that spending.
In Queensland, councils will receive $200 million under the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Works for Queensland program, creating and supporting more than 4600 jobs through the construction of new parks, tourism projects, road and water infrastructure.
The $500 million Working for Victoria initiative assists local governments to employ Victorian jobseekers, including people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. The scheme sees employers, including local governments, identify their business needs and matches these vacancies to Victorians with the right skills and experience.
Tasmania will add $11.7 million to the Federal Government’s $34.3 million to deliver nine new shovel-ready infrastructure projects and urgent road safety upgrades across that state, complementing the $40 million in new roads funding announced last month as part of the Gutwein Government’s COVID-19 recovery package.
Local Government Association of Northern Territory is spearheading a buy locally procurement campaign encouraging councils and communities to keep their dollars circulating through their own communities, with the myDarwin project front and centre.
Australian Capital Territory is supporting Canberran businesses and employment through reductions and rebates on rates, rents and utilities and freezes on a range of levies and charges.
With most of the nation’s recovery support to be spent on roads, the Australian Local Government Association Local Roads and Transport Congress in November will hold special value. Encompassing a Special Recovery Conference it will provide an opportunity for local government to come together to talk about the year that was and the road forward.