South East Queensland Mayors arrive in Canberra today to meet with senior Ministers from the Abbott Cabinet to push their funding agenda ahead of the federal budget in May.
Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chairman Cr Graham Quirk said although the Mayors were aware of the tight financial restraints facing the government it was important to makes sure key projects were kept on the table.
“The priority for the mayoral delegation will be getting a financial commitment for water catchment, road and transport infrastructure projects in South East Queensland,” Cr Quirk said.
“We don’t expect there will be much fat in the coming budget but it’s our responsibility to ensure projects that will help our region continue to punch above its weight economically are front and centre of our negotiations.
“Although road and transport infrastructure remains a focus of our advocacy efforts, our priority for the next financial year is investment in our waterways.
“The management of our waterways requires immediate attention and we are seeking an urgent financial commitment from the federal government so we can commence coordinated, on the ground action straight away.
“For the past 20 years, the 19 separate catchment areas of SEQ have been managed independently but the extreme weather conditions we have experienced in our recent history have highlighted that this approach is unsustainable.
“Droughts, floods, erosion and sedimentation have compromised the safety of our drinking water and also the waterways we rely on to support our economic growth through agriculture, tourism and our world-class fisheries.
“To protect this vital resource, the Council of Mayors (SEQ) has led the charge in the formation of a high level agreement between key organisations involved in catchment management.
“This agreement is the first step in developing a coordinated 30 year management plan based on the input and collective wisdom of organisations that recognise the importance of this work and its urgency.
“We must act now because if we don’t our waterways will not be able to support our population growth, which will have flow on effects for the rest of country.
“Our Mayors are passionate about this project and will work hard to get the funding needed to make it a reality.”
Cr Quirk said the completion of key public infrastructure projects were also vital to supporting the regions growth and the Mayors had prioritised 18 projects for discussion with the government and opposition.
“Since our last visit to Canberra, the federal government has made commitments to the tune of more than $5 billion for our priority projects including the Bruce Highway, Gateway Motorway and Toowoomba Bypass,” he said.
“These projects have been the focus of major advocacy efforts by our Mayors and after years of neglect and underinvestment it is wonderful to see the federal government coming through with funding for the south east.
“This is a challenging time for Australia and for South East Queensland but we look forward to working with the federal government to build an even brighter future for our region and the nation.”