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Councils rejoice over $1.8 billion cash splash

Councils rejoice over $1.8 billion cash splash

Queensland councils are the big winners out of the federal government’s $500 million roads and infrastructure stimulus program – the largest single injection of COVID relief funds for local government to date.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that Australian councils will share half a billion dollars of federal funding through the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program.

Funding allocations take into consideration road length and population, as well as recommendations of the Local Government Grants Commission, and are calculated in a similar way to the Roads to Recovery program and the road component of the Financial Assistance Grants.

Australia’s biggest council by population, City of Brisbane, was allocated almost $12 million, while Gold Coast and Moreton Bay Councils were each allocated in access in of $5 million.

Toowoomba received $4 million and Logan City, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Western Downs are eligible for around $3.5 million.

All up, 12 Queensland councils will get more than $2 million of funding each, as will 13 Victorian councils and seven in NSW.

State by state, NSW takes home the lion’s share of funding with $139.3 million. Queensland and Victoria both netted more than $100 million in funding.

The roads and infrastructure boost is part of a $1.8 billion stimulus package which includes the bringing forward of $13 billion worth of Financial Assistance Grants.

“Our funding boost will help councils accelerate priority projects that will employ locally and support local business and also stimulating our economy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

“We know this is going to be vital support, particularly for councils that have faced the combined impacts of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19.”

The peak body for local government in Australia, ALGA, described it as “tremendous news” for councils, staff and elected representatives.

Councils will need to submit applications for their allocated funding, which will be available from July 1.

State by state funding under the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program

  • NSW: $139.36m
  • Vic: $101.73m
  • Qld: $101.70m
  • WA: $73.51m
  • SA: $44.93m
  • Tas: $16.28m
  • NT: $14.54m
  • ACT: $7.97m
Relief for councils
The Municipal Association of Victoria said the funding was crucial to recover from COVID-19 and stimulate economies.
“Local economies have suffered from the economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Summer bushfires. Councils, supported by Federal and State Governments, will play a pivotal role in driving local economic recovery,” President Coral Ross said.

LGAQ President Mark Jamieson said the funding was welcome relief for councils that had been wearing significant revenue losses as a result of coronavirus, while providing support and stimulus to residents and business.

“We thank the Federal Government for listening to Queensland councils and their counterparts across the country and delivering much-needed stimulus at this critical time,” Cr Jamieson said.

“Councils will continue to work with the federal government to ensure extra funding flows in future years so the economic sustainability of councils and their communities is maintained.”

First step to recovery

LGNSW said the cash injection was the first step on the road to a locally led recovery.

“This funding will help keep local economies from collapse by keeping the tens of thousands of people who make up our invaluable local government workforce in jobs,” president Linda Scott said.

Cr Scott welcomed the advance payment of the year’s second instalment of FAGS  but noted the grant amount had not been increased.

So while the cash flow would help keep councils liquid, it wouldn’t actually provide for any extra infrastructure, she said.

She said payment of an additional half-year instalment to councils, over and above Friday’s announcement, would provide an additional $400 million to NSW councils, and make a massive difference to the communities they represented.

WALGA said more than $70 million had been committed to the state and every West Australian local government would receive some funding.

Finally some help, says WA

WALGA President and ALGA Vice President Tracey Roberts said the state would see the injection of $73 million into local projects.

She said local government in WA had missed out on the financial support and support offered to other states.

“Consequently while the Federal funding package is a national initiative, it will be especially appreciated by WA Councils and their communities.”

LGAT President Christina Holmdahl said the announcement would lead to around $16 million for expenditure on local roads and community infrastructure in Tasmania and councils were  already working to identify suitable, ready projects that can be brought forward.

The bringing forward of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) payments would also provide benefit to councils that were are facing short term cash flow, she said.

The peak body for local government officers, Local Government Professionals Australia, welcomed the package, saying it would help councils deliver local jobs and local business.

“The stimulus will see priority local road and community infrastructure projects delivered through local governments creating new jobs and protecting businesses to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic,” chief executive Clare Sullivan said.

‘Welcome but modest’

Labor described the program as ‘welcome but modest”.

Councils still had to seek approval from the Commonwealth before funding for projects can be delivered, infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King and local government spokesman Jason Clare said in a joint statement.

“Additionally, the government must ensure that the money is distributed on a transparent and equitable basis, unlike some previous Coalition programs,” they said.

It comes after draft budgets and economic modelling showed that the double whammy of COVID-19 and bushfires was stretching councils to their limits.




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Gold Coast

Gold Coast playground named Queensland’s best park

Gold Coast playground named Queensland’s best park (1)

A playground on the northern Gold Coast has been recognised as the state’s best park after taking out a top industry gong.

Two Gold Coast winners were among 17 projects to be honoured by the Queensland Landscape Architecture Awards last night.

Gold Coast playground named Queensland’s best park (3)

The impressive community play hub known as Bim’bimba Park in Pimpama, designed by Brisbane based Form Landscape Architects, won the Parks and Open Spaces category.

“Bim’bimba Park tells a rich, exciting and detailed story and has been underpinned by simple design principles that respond carefully to its setting to deliver a range of spaces for active play and recreation,” said Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture (AILA) Queensland Jury Chair Deb Robbins.

AILA Queensland President David Uhlmann said shared outdoor spaces have taken on even greater importance following the COVID-19 crisis.

“With Gold Coast locals spending more time enjoying local parks, backyards, and green spaces, landscape architecture has been brought to the forefront,” he said.

“We believe there has been a new-found realisation of the importance of green space and active travel opportunities that are complementary to essential infrastructure, not only in our city centres, but also in our neighbourhoods, and surrounding our homes.”

Gold Coast playground named Queensland’s best park (2)

The landscape planning category award went to The Urban Tree Canopy, a Gold Coast study by global firm Arup.

“With a growing population and increasing development on the Gold Coast region, this study makes rigorous analysis and judgment on the effects of both increased and decreased tree canopy,” said Ms Robbins.

“The outcome is a plan for unprecedented climate changes and provides a baseline for understanding urban heat island effects on the Gold Coast.”




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Olympics, Billion-Dollar Projects Brighten Brisbane Outlook

Olympics, Billion-Dollar Projects Brighten Brisbane Outlook (1)

Hosting the 2032 Olympic Games, along with a swathe of major projects and infrastructure, could play a critical role in Brisbane’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

With the largest local authority in the southern hemisphere, Brisbane is well-positioned post-pandemic with $20 billion worth of major development on the way and $49.5 billion committed to transport infrastructure.

Major development projects include the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, $3 billion Queen’s Wharf casino and the Brisbane Airport redevelopment.

The region, home to one in seven Australians, has put its hand up to host the 2032 games—the first location to announce it would bid for the $5 billion-plus games, under new rules that allow a region, rather than a city, to host the event.

“There is already a need for jobs and growth in the Queensland economy arising from the impact of Covid-19,” Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said.

Olympics, Billion-Dollar Projects Brighten Brisbane Outlook (2)

“Our partner three levels of government recognise a potential 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a critical part of the state and nation’s economic recovery in the short term, quite apart from all of the long-term health, wellbeing, economic and sporting legacies.”

Brisbane deputy mayor Krista Adams, Brisbane Marketing chief executive Brett Fraser, ASM Global Asia Pacific chief executive Harvey Lister and Brisbane Marketing chairman Paul Spiro will discuss the key projects and initiatives driving Brisbane post-pandemic, at The Urban Developer’s upcoming Brisbane Reimagined webinar.

Panellists will touch on major economic priorities and their impact on the property sector as well as recent changes to the City Plan and the impact on the property sector.

This event is a must for anyone invested or considering investing in the greater Brisbane region.




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Builders Compete for $460m Logan Hospital Revamp

Builders Compete for $460m Logan Hospital Revamp (1) (1)

Tenders to construct Logan Hospital’s $460 million expansion are on offer, with work slated to start on the hospital’s main construction next year.

Design of the hospital’s major expansion began last month, with an invitation to offer for two projects—both the hospital expansion and the maternity upgrade—issued to shortlisted companies following an open market expression last month.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said the tenders were in “commercial confidence” with the shortlist understood to be narrowed down to four companies.

Work on infrastructure upgrades will take place during the rest of this year, with the main construction scheduled to start in 2021.

Builders Compete for $460m Logan Hospital Revamp (2)

The expansion forms part of a wider infrastructure program at Logan Hospital over the course of five years, aimed at increasing the hospital’s capacity by almost half.

Plans will see one of Logan Hospital’s main buildings increase by four stories and the open-air ground level built-in.

Maternity service upgrades include the addition of birthing pools, overnight facilities for partners with six additional maternity inpatient beds, and five extra birthing suites.

Construction on the hospital’s maternity upgrade is slated to start in September this year.

Member for Waterford Shannon Fentiman described the upgrade as “one of Queensland’s largest-ever hospital expansions”, which will see an additional 206 beds, treatment spaces and upgraded services across Logan Hospital.

The two projects are expected to generate 1000 jobs during construction.

Home to a population of around 330,000, Logan City is one of Queensland’s fastest-growing regions.

Earlier this month, a four-storey medical centre three blocks from the Logan hospital in Meadowbrook was given development approval.

The $30 million centre, at 10-12 Nestor Drive, will replace industrial sheds and is scheduled to start next year with a completion date of 2022.




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