How COVID-19 has battered the Ipswich economy
IPSWICH City Council will receive $4.44 million from the State Government to aid in the city's COVID-19 recovery but the council of mayors representing the south east corner believe they have been "short-changed".
The SEQ Council of Mayors, which includes Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding, welcomed the top-up to the Works for Queensland program but believed the allocation of the funds came as a "kick in the teeth".
The south east is home to 70 per cent of the Queensland population and generates almost two-thirds of the state's gross regional product but received just 25 per cent of the $200 million funding pool.
Cr Harding said the money would "enable the council to invest in vital infrastructure, improve community facilities and create new jobs" in the next financial year.
The coronavirus pandemic has battered the Ipswich economy, just as it has towns and cities across the rest of Australia.
It is forecast to decline 10.9 per cent in gross regional product in the June quarter.
Local jobs are forecast to fall by 7.7 per cent in the quarter, which equals a loss of 5,967 jobs, and those numbers could drop further depending on JobKeeper impacts.
Youth unemployment in Ipswich almost doubled in the past year to reach 20.1 per cent due to the toll COVID-19 had taken on the retail and hospitality sectors.
"We very much welcome this new commitment which will assist our city recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic," Cr Harding said.
"As the fastest growing city in south east Queensland and after the extreme losses and waste suffered under the dismissed previous council, every extra dollar of much needed investment in infrastructure is welcomed.
"Council has turned its attention to strengthening our communities post COVID-19. We are working through our budget at the moment and the combined state and federal funding of $6.74m will benefit our capital works budget.
"That being said, we still have many tough decisions ahead of us with our operational budget."
Ipswich is recognised in the Shaping SEQ - South East Queensland Regional Plan as the region's most significant local government area for population and employment growth.
Its population is expected to double to more than 500,000 by 2040.
Infrastructure and public transport networks are a priority to cope with the rapid growth.
Cr Harding said the city needs major transport infrastructure investment by both levels of government.
"Ipswich requires significant investment if it is to meet the unparalleled demand, maintain liveability and continue to grow at this unprecedented rate," she said.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor.