Mayor's Speech: 2024 National General Assembly of Local Government


Mayor Teresa Millwood took to the stage in front of 700 delegates at in Canberra to tackle the issue of a 'fair share' for councils by providing relief to ratepayers through commensurate financial support from state and federal governments.  She joined fellow councillors at the 2024 National General Assembly of Local Government in a panel discussion about the 'Cost Shifting Crisis'.

This is her introductory speech as part of the panel:

"I feel the State and Federal governments need to come to the party and recognise the importance of local government and make sure we are at the table when decisions are being made.

"We are the foot soldiers of government who deal with the everyday pain.

"A prime example of cost shifting in the Cassowary Coast, and I have to say One Coast Cassowary Coast, has been primary health.

"Primary health is an  initiative our council chose to support given the lack of services provided by federal funding. Market failure has seen the need for local government to step up and fill the gap along with NQPHN (North Queensland Public Health Network) and the thin market funding which has been very drawn out. This has seen our council contributing to a lease on a commercial facility to provide critical health care services.This was supported with a motion at the LGAQ conference in October 2022. In May 2023 the Better Health NQ Alliance proposal was taken to the Health Minster and Department of Health executives.

"We are now waiting for the execution of the proposed funding which is well outside any other funding model.

"This also points to our public safety issues with a lack of CCTV and why are local councils paying for this? Then a lack of police officers, early intervention centres, shelters just to name a few.

"For local governments to be able to provide liveability for our communities we need to be sustainably funded by the federal government and we need to be able to provide a safe living space for our communities.

"In the Cassowary Coast approximately 46% of our region is state land which we are unable to rate and therefore our rates are exorbitant and our small ratepayer base is suffering the burden.

"How, when councils deliver 33% of services do we receive so little?

"We are trying to promote our region in order to build our ratepayer base but people are saying that our region is the most beautiful but so expensive. Catch 22 I say.

"If you want to see thriving rural communities we need to address the financial pressures that we are experiencing, especially the way we are forced to depreciate in our assets.

"We do appreciate the assistance we receive, every single dollar but I feel we need more resources and financial support and a change in reporting methods is critical if we are to survive.

"This cost shifting comes in the form of rate rises given this is our main source of revenue."

Mayor Millwood with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Mayor Millwood on cost shifting crisis panel