Ipswich's elected representatives gathered this week for the first meeting of the Local Elected Representatives Working Group.
Ipswich's elected representatives gathered this week for the first meeting of the Local Elected Representatives Working Group.

‘Unique’ forum brings city’s pollies together

IPSWICH’S elected representatives all came to the same table this week to discuss the growing city’s needs and priorities in a “unique” initiative designed to build better bonds between all levels of government.

The forum was spearheaded by division 1 Councillor Jacob Madsen, who moved a motion at a January council meeting for councillors and the region’s state and federal politicians to meet once every three months.

“The year 2020 was a disruptive year in many ways, and as a means to improve discourse between the three levels of government in Ipswich it is necessary to facilitate greater working relationships to ensure collaborative problem solving and effective advocacy for Ipswich,” he said in January.

“All three levels of government have one special thing in common; we work for the same people.

“In that spirit we should resolve to work together and maximise any and all opportunities, be that through making better use of grant programs or advocating for the infrastructure that our growing city needs.”

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The Local Elected Representatives Working Group met for the first time at council chambers on Tuesday.

With Ipswich’s population of 233,000 set to more than double to 558,000 by 2041, infrastructure investment, waste reform and development of a new Ipswich planning scheme were on the agenda.

The city’s nine councillors were joined by state MPs Jennifer Howard, Jim Madden, Jon Krause, Charis Mullen, Lance McCallum, as well as federal Blair MP Shayne Neumann and LNP Senator Paul Scarr.

Oxley MP Milton Dick attended via online connection as he was in Rockhampton.

Mr Neumann praised the initiative and said while he was regularly speaking to his fellow elected representatives, it was productive to have everyone together in the one place.

“It’s unique,” he said.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it done in Ipswich.

“All levels of government at that level talking about the needs going forward, that’s really important going forward.

“We talked about the priorities of the council. Many of the priorities we talked about were in terms of local infrastructure that the council really wants.

“There’s a lot of agreement about what priorities we need to get done locally. There’s no disagreement at any level of government that we need to extend a rail line from Ipswich to Springfield.

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“There’s no disagreement we need better roads and upgrades to the Warrego Highway, the Cunningham Highway and the Ipswich Motorway.

“Information is knowledge and it’s really important as we go forward. It doesn’t matter which side of politics it is, it’s important to be able to lobby and have that information available.

“I was taking copious notes as the council officers were talking and it’s important to talk in a cooperative and constructive way with each other as well.”

Mr Neumann thanked Cr Madsen, a fellow member of the Labor party, for pushing the initiative.

The young councillor believed the council needed to work more closely with the state and federal governments to achieve better outcomes for the city.

“There is a time for adversarial politics and there is a time to try and resolve things,” he said.

“Everyone here today agrees that we want the best outcomes for Ipswich and the region.

“We need to keep this conversation going.

“We need to build relationships and build trust.”

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