Queensland councils tackle infrastructure challenges

By Rachel Borchardt in Brisbane

Some of the hottest local government issues, including infrastructure upgrades, climate change and the recession, were key themes at a major council infrastructure conference that officially opened in Brisbane yesterday.

The Local Government Infrastructure Symposium 2009, presented by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) united more than 200 council delegates from across Queensland.

In the opening address, LGAQ president Paul Bell reminded councils about the need for clear and structured planning if they were to be prepared for the future.

“We’ve got to remember that we are in a period of climate change,” Cr Bell said.

“The way in which we build assets, and provide assets and infrastructure for our community needs to be with fifty-year thinking in our minds.”

Having received $800 million from the Federal Government through the Community Infrastructure Program to build and renew local government infrastructure Cr Bell warned councils they would also need to ensure they had asset management and impact assessments in place if they expected to receive more funding in the future.

But for those councils struggling under the weight of the recession Cr Bell provided some hope, indicating the LGAQ had put a team together to travel statewide and talk to councils about the effects of the financial crisis on their areas “and what practical measures you can undertake particularly looking at borrowings and investing, where you need to now, on new infrastructure”.

Queensland Local Government Minister Desley Boyle also made an appearance at the conference late yesterday, bringing with her a strong message that Q2, the Queensland Government’s five-pronged vision for the state leading to 2020, would be pushing forward.

She said councils should be willing to adhere to the Bligh Government’s policy.

“That was not just some election policy to make you feel good,” Ms Boyle said.

“Key elements of the Q2 program – for Queensland to be strong, clean, smart, healthy and fair – you need to subscribe to them in your communities.”

The symposium, which featured the theme ‘community builders, community leaders: creating a new direction’ incorporates international and national speakers, panel discussions and interactive workshops.

On the agenda are topics ranging from road construction to developer payments, sustainable communities, climate change, the oil age and Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The symposium will continue today and finish tomorrow.

Related Story: Legislative changes are costly and time-comsuming: LGAQ

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