CONCERNS: Livingstone Shire councillor Glenda Mather.
CONCERNS: Livingstone Shire councillor Glenda Mather. Sharyn Oneill

Councils left high and dry after state conference talks

LIVINGSTONE Shire councillor Glenda Mather says the recent state conference sent a clear message that councils now have to do more with less.

Held in MacKay last week, the 77 councils across Queensland converged on the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre for three days of discussion.

Covering a range of issues, the event was an opportunity for state leaders to collaborate, share ideas and progress local communities.

Cr Mather said there was no longer a local body of the Local Government Association Queensland to represent interests specific to this region, as it was abolished during amalgamation.

"It is crucial for all councils to physically connect at state level to identify and resolve issues which are troubling them," Cr Mather said.

"It also gives the mayors and councillors the opportunity to network among their counterparts to obtain confidential information which does not reach the tabloids."

Motions were forwarded to the conference in advance and these were debated, sometimes with passion, Cr Mather said.

"We had 114 motions in all and all were passed bar three, which were withdrawn," she said.

"Many of the motions identified issues where state and federal governments were cutting funding to councils through new legislation or policies.

Cr Mather said the council was clearly opposed to these financial cutbacks and its messages in the resolutions reflected this.

"Both the state and federal governments expect already-struggling councils to do more with less," she said.

"We have already lost grants and subsidies. When you hear that 'big brothers' are making us more 'autonomous', you can bet your boots they are shedding one of their responsibilities on to councils - without the money to go with it."

She said an example of this was NDRRA funding, better known as "flood money", provided to repair eligible council infrastructure damage from severe weather events.

"Both state and federal governments claim they don't have the money," she said.

"I ask, well, where does it leave struggling councils who have no means of raising the millions in revenue required to fix the damage? Councils are already on their knees, trying to retain services with dwindling finances."

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