Strong advocacy to Canberra opens up regional funding pool for our islands

An advocacy tour to Canberra by Mayor Karen Williams and consistent lobbying to the Federal Government, has resulted in Redland City’s islands now being eligible for a share of a $481.6 million Federal Government fund designed to support regional areas.

Mayor Karen Williams said the decision to include Redland City islands in the second round of the Building Better Regions Fund followed meetings with then Minister Fiona Nash and ongoing lobbying for the Federal Government to consider the Redlands as a regional city in recognition of our unique challenges, which are in line with many regional areas.

“This decision is great news for our islands and a step in the right direction with regards to all levels of government recognising that while the Redlands is located in South East Queensland we have many of the same challenges as regional communities,” Cr Williams said.

“After seeing that we were excluded from the first round of the Building Better Regions Fund, I wrote to then Minister Nash and was fortunate to meet with her office in Canberra in June.

“During this meeting I advocated for the Redlands to be able to access this funding in recognition that the Redlands faces many of the same challenges of regional communities, including the isolation of our islands and 25 per cent unemployment on some of our islands.

“Following this meeting I then continued to lobby the Federal Government and officers have had ongoing discussions with their federal counterparts to make a case for us being included in this funding pool.”

Cr Williams said while she welcomed this week’s announcement that our islands would now be eligible to apply for the second round of the Building Better Regions Fund, she had originally asked for the entire city to be included and would continue to advocate for this to occur so projects across the city could access regional funding pools.

“I have consistently said other levels of government need to recognise that while we are geographically close to Brisbane, we share many of the challenges of regional areas, including isolation in some parts of our city, which makes it difficult to access services and employment opportunities and costly to deliver infrastructure,” she said.

“My argument has always been that the decision on whether or not to classify us as a region for funding allocations should not depend on who our neighbours are, it should depend on our city’s own unique characteristics, including one of the largest populations living on unbridged islands in the country, higher than average number of retirees and high unemployment in some parts of the city.

Cr Williams said Council officers had already started looking at eligible island projects to apply for under the next round of the Building Better Regions Fund.

“This is the thin end of the wedge in terms of us accessing regional funding and I want to make sure we make the most of it,” she said.

“Not only will we put our best foot forward to access funding in the next round, I will also be writing to the government to make a case for us accessing other regional funding pools.

“This includes returning us to our previous status under the Regional Development Area program, a program we were previously considered a region under before being reclassified as part of metropolitan Brisbane.”