Cost of summer flood damage may be higher than expected
THE damage bill from Queensland's summer floods could now reach $3 billion as the state recovers from the widespread effects of the disaster.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the full economic extent of ex-cyclone Oswald's impact would not be known for some time and suggested a figure much higher than the expected $2.5 billion.
He noted the 2011-12 budget papers estimated cyclone Yasi and the 2010-11 floods reduced GSP by 2.25%, or about $6 billion in real terms, and the current damage program estimate for those disasters was $7.3 billion.
Mr Nicholls, speaking at the Local Government Association finance summit, said there was no going back to the boom times from 2001 to 2008 and told councils they must do "more with less", as must his government.
He said audited financial data showed many councils were relying heavily or moderately on state and federal grants as a proportion of revenue.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said he appreciated there had never been "a more challenging time financially for local government" after the "summer of madness".
He asked councils to look at business opportunities to share services such as payroll and human resources.
"I know the challenges all too well of what will come with saying we are moving jobs to that wretched other neighbouring shire," he said.
"But it's either financial destitute or its manning up to those challenges and looking for a deal that can be sold across multiple agencies.
"No other business would accept the level of debt that you have on your books."It is a reality of how close you are to your communities but it can't go on."
Mr Crisafulli, who also is charged with community recovery and resilience, told councils they should not just cherry pick their top two priorities for rebuilding funding applications, due April 16, but rather list all "the big ideas" to become more disaster resilient.
He said he viewed the $40 million from the Federal Government, which the state had matched, as just the beginning, and the lists would help him lobby for more Commonwealth funding going into the Federal Election in September.
"That money, combined with contributions from local government, is going to drive a level of infrastructure resilience the likes of which have never been seen," he said.
"I'm confident the next time diaster strikes ... it will not be a case of if there is a betterment fund but the quantum of that fund.
"Unashamedly, I seek to use this politically to get a good deal from both sides of politics from in September.
"Wouldn't it be beautiful if come September we've lobbed in another $120 million which would just be round two?"
Mr Nicholls said local governments had switched from a net cash position of $0.84 billion in fiscal year 2009 to a net debt position of $2.06 billion in fiscal year 2012, noting 42% of that could be attributed to the Brisbane City Council embarking on a large infrastructure spend.
Mr Nicholls said local government debt had increased, on average, by one billion dollars a year since 2008-09.