EVERY political party contesting the Queensland election is being called upon to endorse a proposal that would ensure rural interests are factored into all new legislation and cabinet decisions by the state government.
The Bush Councils Compact would require the state government to give special consideration to how every piece of legislation and every cabinet decision would impact rural and remote communities.
Proposed by the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), the Compact would also require the publishing of an annual State of Our Communities report which would include an independent assessment of government programs and service delivery to rural and remote communities.
It would also introduce a ‘Bush Champions’ scheme ensuring government program provision and service delivery to rural and remote communities are “top of mind”.
LGAQ president and Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson said the association was calling on all political parties contesting the October 31 election to agree to implement the Compact within the first 100 days of government.
“Small populations, funding and policy uncertainty, the tyranny of distance and a high dependence on industries impacted by global fluctuations are combining to hurt our bush communities,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“One-size-fits-all government policies only add to this frustration by ignoring any unique circumstances existing in rural and remote economies.
“We want a far greater understanding throughout government departments of the realities facing bush councils and their communities so they can make better decisions, provide greater revenue certainty and, of course, improve the quality of life of residents in rural and remote communities.”
The Compact would be a formal partnership between the Queensland Government and the LGAQ and apply to the state’s 45 councils which service communities of fewer than 50,000 people.
Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said the Compact would help bush councils play a more pivotal role in Queensland’s economic development and prosperity.
“We would like to see a far greater understanding throughout government departments of the realities facing Bush Councils so we can make better decisions, have greater revenue certainty and, of course, improve the quality of life of our residents,” Mayor McVeigh said.
AgForce general president Georgie Somerset said improving support for rural and remote Queensland was critical to the economic future of the state.
“Queensland’s rural communities – and the vital industries like agriculture they support – are the powerhouse underpinning our State’s economic strength,” Ms Somerset said.
“We must make sure these communities have access to the same level and quality of services available to people living in our cities.”
Queensland Farmers’ Federation CEO Dr Georgina Davis welcomed the proposal and said she encouraged the state’s major political parties to lend their support.
“Despite their contribution, Queenslanders in rural and remote areas do not receive the same standard of infrastructure and essential services as those living in metropolitan areas,” Dr Davis said.
“To bridge the divide between the city and the country, while improving the quality of life of rural and remote residents, in the next Parliament, the government must guarantee minimum standards of service delivery and infrastructure for rural and remote communities.”