SOUTH-EAST Queensland Mayors have welcomed changes to the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 in Queensland Parliament last night, saying the amended bill will provide the mechanism for a whole-of-catchment approach to waterways management throughout SEQ.
In a submission to the Queensland Parliament’s Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee on 9 October 2014, the Council of Mayors (SEQ) requested a number of changes to the Bill to ensure that local government continued to have a leading role in the establishment, change or abolitions of river improvement areas affecting their local government area.
This included ensuring that a trust include local government councillor representation from each council within the trust’s area and to protect local governments from potential unlimited liability to make financial contribution to a trust via ministerial authority.
Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman and Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Councillor Graham Quirk said SEQ Mayors have been committed for some time to bringing about change to the way waterways are managed in SEQ.
“SEQ’s relationship with its waterways is unique in Australia; our fast growing urban region is also the region most directly influenced by its catchments,” said Cr Quirk.
“The capacity of SEQ to continue to grow its population, economy and employment and its continued capacity to deliver more than its share to Australian economic growth is directly linked to the capacity of its waterways to support this growth and maintain the quality of life for which the region is renowned.
Cr Quirk said that for a long time, the management of SEQ’s catchments has been ad hoc and fragmented and the natural disasters of recent years has highlighted that the way things are being done now is not enough.
“We need to do more to keep the soil on our land and out of our waterways, protect our water security and make our waterways more resilient to extreme weather events,” said Cr Quirk.
“SEQ Mayors believe that to do these things effectively we need the key organisations with an interest in catchment management to work together in partnership for the first time to get more bang for the taxpayer and ratepayer buck.
“The Council of Mayors (SEQ), the State Government and other key organisations have been working in the background for nearly 12 months toward a coordinated approach with a focus on on-ground activities that deliver tangible benefits to our waterways, economy and the region’s water security.
“It has been a hard slog up to now and there is more work to do but these changes to the Water Reform Bill in Parliament are another step towards bringing an integrated waterways management plan in SEQ to life.”