Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says local governments should look to the private sector to help fund infrastructure projects.
Speaking at the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference in Cairns, Mr Newman has urged mayors to stop relying so heavily on assistance from state and federal governments.
He says councils need to capitalise on local resources.
“Many councils are saying to me we don’t have the money,” he said.
“Yet frankly, they are sitting on a gold mine.
“Rather than borrow for that new water or sewerage treatment plant, we as a Government, are prepared to facilitate and see the private sector deliver those things – funding them, designing them, constructing them – and simply charging you a fee for service.”
Mr Newman says local governments need to implement sweeping reforms to increase efficiency and reduce wasteful spending.
He has challenged mayors to review outdated policies.
Mr Newman says councils should look to the State Government as an example.
“Just as we have gone in and tried to change the culture in state agencies to be one of ‘can do’,” he said.
“I’m asking you to go into your own planning departments and development assessment teams and really challenge whether they’re the most receptive they could be to proposals to take your community forward.”
Meanwhile, Local Government Minister David Crisafulli has urged councils to seize the opportunity presented by the State Government’s policy of regionalisation.
Mr Newman told the conference he wants 50 per cent of the state’s population to be living outside the state’s south-east by 2043.
Mr Crisafulli says he is excited about the growth potential in regional areas and councils need to rise to the challenge.
“What I got out of today was that local government will be in the driver’s seat,” he said.
“What I got out of the Queensland Plan is that regional Queensland has a bright future.
“I’ve been waiting all my life to hear that and interestingly, I heard during the election campaign the other mob running around saying this bloke Newman was going to be all about Brisbane – well, we saw today a guy who understands regional Queensland.”