Mayor Karen Williams welcomes expansion of state grants program to include Redlands

COVID A GRANTS PUSH: Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said south-east mayors had often asked when the Works for Queensland program would be extended to their councils.
COVID A GRANTS PUSH: Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said south-east mayors had often asked when the Works for Queensland program would be extended to their councils.

AFTER years of council lobbying, COVID-19 has been the push needed for the Redlands to finally be included in a state infrastructure grants program.

The Redlands had previously been excluded from the regional Works for Queensland program as it is classed as part of metropolitan south-east Queensland.

This was despite mayor Karen Williams arguing that the Southern Moreton Bay Islands faced similar challenges to areas of rural and remote Queensland, like high unemployment rates and geographical isolation.

On Tuesday, the state government announced a $200 million boost to the program, which included expanding it to include south-east Queensland councils to help with COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The Works for Queensland program is designed to help councils improve livability for residents and support jobs by building or improving community infrastructure.

This could include playgrounds, swimming pools, community centres, caravan parks, sport and recreation facilities, libraries, water and sewer infrastructure, and waste management facilities.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said south-east Queensland mayors had consistently asked when the program would be extended to their councils.

"We're still finalising the details, but this program will expand to include south-east Queensland councils and will be on top of the $600 million remote and regional program," he said.

"We recognise the enormous economic impact, including unemployment, that has come in the wake of this pandemic."

Cr Williams welcomed the news, saying the announcement recognised the Redlands' regional and remote challenges.

"The Redlands has unique challenges, including islands with twice the state average of unemployment and ageing communities, in addition to connectivity challenges due to their remoteness."

Cr Williams and Redlands MP Kim Richards joined together earlier this year on a petition to state parliament calling for the funding.