the Breeze

MISSING OUT ON STATE GOVT ‘REGIONAL’ FUNDING

OUR ISLANDS MISSING OUT ON STATE GOVT ‘REGIONAL’ FUNDING DUE TO CLASSIFICATION ‘CONFUSION’ Our islands are missing out on major funding opportunities all because of our ‘classification’ by the Queensland State Government. A case in point is the recently announced home builder grants of $5000 by the State Government that has been termed a Regional Home Builder grant. Even though we live on fairly remote islands, the State Government classifies our islands as ‘metropolitan’. This means we are attached to Brisbane with no consideration to our placement in the middle of Moreton Bay surrounded by water.  We are islands, after all. The Friendly Bay Islander has for some months been trying to get a proper classification for our islands, and with good reason. Because we are islands that brings all the difficulties that come with access and transportation.  We have long believed that we have been unfairly classified. Our islands should be classified at least as ‘regional’, if not ‘remote’. By being in any of these latter two categories, we would be eligible for considerably more State and Federal funding. We put the question to Federal Member for Bowman, Andrew Laming, who told us that the Federal Government classifies our islands as ‘regional’. State Member for Redlands did the same thing, eventually being told that our islands are classified as ‘metropolitan’. She told us:”I have been lobbying Government to recognise the regional challenges of Redlands islands by making them eligible for regional grant opportunities – which fortunately we have secured this year; for example the $2.5M provided to Redland City Council under the Works for Queensland program.  “I sponsored our community’s petition into the Parliament that was tabled in the Parliament in May and it was a driving factor for Redland City Council receiving over $7M in grant funding,” Kim Richards said. However, her efforts have so far not seen any change to our ‘metropolitan’ general classification. Mayor Karen Williams has recently brought the island dilemma to the Queensland Local Government conference. “We are a city of islands and have one of the largest, un-bridged island populations in the country,” she said. “In recognition of our island communities’ unique social, economic and isolation issues compared with the rest of the city, we have long advocated for our islands to be considered regional under State Government funding allocations. “Despite the rates of unemployment and disability being higher than on the mainland, along with transport challenges similar to those of other regional areas, our islands are excluded from the State Government’s regional funding programs designed to support regional Local Government Areas.” In an ironic twist, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (not State) have classified Coochiemudlo, Macleay and Redland Bay as Inner Regional rating. Karragarra, Lamb and Russell Islands are classified as Outer Regional Australia by the bureau. Centrelink uses the ABS remoteness classifications to determine eligibility, because it is a Federal body. Not so the Queensland State Government. These classification are important because we are missing out on important funding that would he helpful to get the islands up to ‘speed’ when it comes to infrastructure, funding and possible grants. The result of the current State election could see all that change; depending on the result.

• Kim Richards

© the breeze 0423 229 739