A fair share of the pie

North Burnett Regional Council (NBRC), Queensland, has been leading the fight for a fairer share of State and Federal funding for local government through a campaign highlighting the harsh financial reality facing smaller regional councils.

NBRC, one of the 30 percent of Queensland councils identified by the Queensland Audit Office of being at high risk of becoming financially unsustainable, launched its Between a Rock and a Hard Place campaign in April to have an honest conversation with the region’s ratepayers and the higher levels of government about the disconnect between the funding, the revenue streams available to regional councils and the cost of providing services and maintaining essential infrastructure that the community needs.

It began with a community roadshow through the six rural towns that make up the North Burnett region – Mt Perry, Gayndah, Mundubbera, Biggenden, Eidsvold and Monto.  

United in their message, the councillors attended each meeting and took their constituents through a candid presentation of NBRC’s financial situation, including proposals around service changes to road grading methodology, library opening hours and the future of the regions five pools, that Council would need to consider unless the funding imbalance to local government is addressed.

A petition was presented to State Parliament by Mayor Rachel Chambers, while letters were sent to State and Federal Ministers.

Residents were also encouraged to enact their civic duty and write to the State and Federal governments demanding action.

In June, Council took its fight to Canberra, presenting to Federal Senators and MPs at the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly.

NBRC’s ultimate goal is to secure a stable, long term funding model that gives councils like the North Burnett certainty, so they can continue to provide the essential services communities rely on and create a sustainable community for future generations.