Coronavirus: The state of our borders

Western leaders say State should have delivered more in budget

Leaders from across more than half of Queensland, the 21 mayors of the Western Queensland Alliance of Councils, have found the 2020/21 State Budget wanting.

As the state looks to grow its regions as part of its COVID-19 response, the 21 mayors have already united on just three priorities needing investment to make this a reality: essential infrastructure for roads, housing and digital connectivity.

“Regardless of the announcement today, we will continue to call on the government to step up, and invest in transformative infrastructure in Western Queensland as well if it is serious about ‘Growing the Regions’,” the WQAC said in a statement.

Representing the south west, the cornerstone of the state, Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said it had been a challenging year and the Queensland Government was to be commended for its hard work in supporting and keeping Queensland working during the pandemic.

“Most notably for the west, we note that the Works for Queensland, energy and infrastructure announcements made earlier in the year have now been reconfirmed in the budget handed down (yesterday),” she said.

“We were also pleased to see the Queensland Government’s budget strategy recognised the ‘critical role the state’s regional economies and communities play in driving the state’s recovery from COVID-19’. However, we were left a little disappointed to find that this wasn’t backed up by any significant or new investment in the budget.”

Up in the Gulf representing the nine councils of the north west, Carpentaria Shire Mayor Jack Bawden had been keeping an eye out for new funding that would help the region’s communities and industry grow.

“While many places across the country almost ground to a halt, western Queensland was fortunate to have remained COVID-19 free and continued to work hard as usual to put valuable dollars into our state coffers,” he said.

“Unfortunately western Queensland misses out again where it matters most locally and for the state’s future – real investment in addressing our main priorities: roads, digital connectivity and better housing.”

Central west Queensland has long been a region that backs itself and is represented by Longreach Mayor Tony Rayner:

“We know that the common issues we face across the west are significant barriers to economic development and growth, that’s why they were top of our wish list in today’s budget,” he said.

“While the 2020 Budget outlines a wide range of programs and initiatives to support the state’s regions, the pipeline of transformative infrastructure that is so badly needed in our region is all in the South East once again.

“Regardless of the announcement, we will continue to call on the government to step up, and invest in transformative infrastructure in western Queensland as well if it is serious about ‘Growing the Regions’.”

Originally published as Western leaders say State should have delivered more in budget