4.3 MAJOR PROJECT PRIORITISATION Any local government undergoing substantial population growth will be dependent on the delivery of a sequence of regionally significant projects, funded in part by the national and state governments and the private sector. Ipswich is no different, with critical rail and road infrastructure needed to meet growing population, as well as a range of civic and community facilities. It is entirely reasonable for Ipswich residents and ratepayers to expect that your council has a robust evidence-based process of defining which regionally significant projects should be prioritised over others, and that council has a rational and effective advocacy strategy in place to secure funding commitments from other levels of government. BEFORE ADMINISTRATION Project prioritisation and advocacy efforts for regionally significant projects (i.e. the key transformational infrastructure projects for the city that required multiple levels of government to invest in) were previously undertaken in an ad-hoc and disjointed manner. This led to inconsistent and diluted investment reasoning provided to key stakeholders such as state and federal governments. The outcome was delayed or non-existent investment and not achieving any significant funding commitment by other levels of government. WHAT WE DID A Transformation Project team set out to determine a consistent and evidence-based approach to regionally significant project prioritisation and advocacy. The team undertook significant research, reviewing current processes and consulting with state government departments to determine best practice, and sought to apply these lessons to the Ipswich context. New processes were developed for prioritisation that demanded rigorous exploration, examination, and verification of solutions that adhere to best practice planning requirements of state and federal governments through business case development. In support of these rigorous planning requirements, new advocacy processes demand a planned and coordinated approach. It is intended that a project will not be advocated for as a regionally significant project until it has been endorsed by council.
New processes are being implemented, and supported by an Advocacy Policy for Regionally Significant Projects as well as a forthcoming Advocacy Framework for Regionally Significant Projects to be presented to council in the near future. When “regional significance” status is determined by council, individually-tailored advocacy plans will be developed to guide messaging and approach to funding bodies. NOW The community can expect a coordinated, evidenced-based approach from council staff and elected representatives towards regionally significant projects. This will include greater emphasis on business case development, community consultation and a focus on projects that facilitate long-term economic and social benefits. Council staff are now expected to be part of a coordinated whole-of-council approach to planning and advocacy of regionally significant projects. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect to be asked by council staff to endorse a number of regionally significant projects in mid-2020. SUPPORTING LINKS: Ipswich.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0010/118639/City-of-Ipswich-Operational- Plan-2019-2020.pdf Ipswichfirst.com.au/report-cements-importance-of- ipswich-central-to-springfield-central-rail-line/ Ipswichfirst.com.au/experts-sought-to-ramp-up- north-ipswich-stadium-bid/