November 21, 2023

Flood works delayed, contracts scrapped in $430m council savings drive

By Tony Moore
November 21, 2023 — 9.46pm
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Flood recovery and resilience projects worth more than $50 million will be postponed as part of Brisbane City Council’s $430 million savings drive.

After the Queensland Reconstruction Authority refused to contribute funding to the projects, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner revealed on Tuesday that council had decided not to go it alone.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has decided not to proceed with $50 million in flood recovery and resilience work.Credit: Twitter/Adrian Schrinner

One of the projects was a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over Kedron Brook, in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, that could withstand future floods.

“I think it [the QRA decision] is short-sighted in that respect because if we build it back better, the damage in the future will be less and cost [the authority] less in future,” Schrinner said.

“So those projects will eventually go ahead, but they will take longer than they normally would.”

Schrinner made the comments as he outlined how the council planned to reduce its budget by 10 per cent to avoid the need for rate increases.

Where the major savings in Brisbane City Council’s budget will be found

$24 million from artwork and “non-essential” signage on the Brisbane Metro project$7 million from the Breakfast Creek Green Bridge$50 million from delayed flood recovery projects$70 million in IT contracts, contractors, catering, travel, slower fleet vehicle replacements$5 million from consultants and contractors in commercial business units$3 million by reducing park lawn mowing in dry weather$2 million from Fig Tree Pocket/Kenmore Road project$1.5 million from reduced ward-office budgets10 per cent reduction in footpath repairs $1 million from reduced advertising and publications$750,000 from new Everton Park Library construction

Source: Brisbane City Council Budget update, November 21, 2023.

More than $70 million would be saved from IT contracts, consultants, slower replacement of fleet vehicles, “back-office efficiencies”, catering and travel, he said.

While Schrinner declined to say how many people would lose work with the council, a budget note suggests $5 million will be cut from commercial business units by 2024-25.


“We made it perfectly clear that permanent council staff have nothing to be concerned about,” he said.


“We said we would be reducing our expenditure on consultants’ fees and contractors, and that is occurring.”

With an election in March, council opposition leader Jared Cassidy responded to the announcement by claiming “countless council employees will be sacked just weeks before Christmas”.

“The headline figures in this review don’t add up to the whopping $400 million Adrian Schrinner said he needs to cut,” Cassidy said.

“Where is the rest of the money coming from?”

Schrinner likened the cuts to households tightening their budgets after interest rate rises, saying the LNP had a responsibility not to add to cost-of-living pressures.

Council opposition leader Jared Cassidy – pictured with Labor’s mayoral candidate, Tracey Price – claims council jobs will go, despite emphatic denials from LNP Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner.

He also revealed why council revenue would be lower than originally forecast. Among the hits to the budget are a $60 million reduction in developers’ infrastructure fees, a $14.3 million blowout in the cost of the Moggill Road upgrade to shift power and gas services, and $12 million less in parking revenue.

The council also expects to receive $6 million less from residential rates.

But Cassidy pointed to blowouts in the cost of two of Schrinner’s favoured projects, which he suggested contributed to the broader cuts, including a reduction in footpath repairs.


“Two of the LNP’s signature inner-city projects – the Metro and the Kangaroo Point Green Bridge – have blown Adrian Schrinner’s budget to the tune of $400 million,” he said.

Schrinner said the council was forging ahead with a record $1.47 billion infrastructure budget, and had identified efficiencies in projects including the Metro ($24 million), the Breakfast Creek Green Bridge ($7 million), and the Everton Park Library ($750,000), all of which would be completed.

Cassidy warned of flow-on effects from cuts to ward-office budgets, with community groups and neighbourhood sporting teams set to lose funding.

“How does a councillor choose who is more deserving, and how do they manage to do more with less,” he said.

But Schrinner said the cuts meant office upgrades would be postponed, while 90 per cent of council work would be unaffected, including public transport, waste collection and mosquito spraying.

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Tony Moore is a senior reporter at Brisbane Times and covers urban affairs and the changing city.Connect via Twitter, Facebook or email.


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