Friday, June 21, 2024

Toowoomba Mayor lobbies for Federal infrastructure funding

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor, Geoff McDonald, has joined Queensland Deputy-Premier, Steven Miles and a group of Queensland Mayors in Canberra this week to discuss Federal infrastructure funding.

The delegation to the Nation’s capital follows the recent release of the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Investment Program Review (IIP), which recommends a number of federally-funded projects be shelved including in the Toowoomba region the New England Highway Borneo Barracks entrance upgrade.

Mayor McDonald said it was imperative Toowoomba had a seat at the table during the talks with the Australian Government this week.

“If the Queensland State Government is worried about the potential for federal infrastructure funding cuts then local government should be very worried and that’s why I joined the Deputy Premier and other Mayors in Canberra this week,” he said.

“The Deputy Premier and various Mayors, including myself, raised concerns with Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King about the potential shift in current infrastructure funding arrangements which see the Australian Government contribute 80 per cent and State Governments 20% for some infrastructure projects.”

He said any move by the Australian Government to change the arrangement to a 50-50 split will have negative flow-on effects for local government in securing funding for critical infrastructure projects.

“This was made clear to Minister King. I also had the opportunity to discuss with Minister King other projects such as Inland Rail and I reiterated that TRC is 100% behind the completion of the project and Inland Rail coming to the Toowoomba region.”

“Inland Rail is a nation-building piece of infrastructure and the individual section from Border to Gowrie that traverses the Toowoomba region is a vital element that we want to see delivered along with the Gowrie to Helidon element. There will be significant ancillary benefits to the Toowoomba region with the delivery of Inland Rail.”

“For us here in Toowoomba, external funding for projects like the critical Cressbrook Dam Safety Upgrade is vitally important. Council is facing an unprecedented capital infrastructure burden this financial year and in coming years as a result of this project which I again discussed at length with Minister for Regional Development and Local Government Kristy McBain.

“Minister McBain has recently visited Toowoomba and received a briefing on Cressbrook Dam and is well aware of the enormity of the cost facing Council as a result of the project.

“I also discussed the project with Advisors to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Australia highlighting to them the fact that this project is about disaster mitigation and protecting landholders downstream of Cressbrook Dam, along Cressbrook Creek, in the Somerset Regional Council area.”

“The meetings in Canberra were constructive and we look forward to continuing to work with the Australian and Queensland State Governments to ensure local governments, including Toowoomba, are funded to the appropriate level for critical infrastructure,” Mayor McDonald said.

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