In a revelation that underscores the complexities of asset management, Queensland councils have stumbled upon an astonishing $1.3 billion in assets, notably roads and bridges, which they were previously unaware of owning. This information, originally reported by ABC News Brisbane, throws a stark light on the systemic shortcomings in asset management practices.
The discovery was brought to light by the Queensland Audit Office (QAO), which found that over the last five years, councils had identified these “found assets” as part of their inventory. In 2021, a major metro council discovered $17 million in assets that had not been accounted for, leading to an overhaul of their asset management systems. This move towards a more granular and detailed approach to defining and managing assets is a step in the right direction, one that other councils could emulate.
This situation isn’t unique to metro areas. A prominent regional council found itself in a similar predicament, uncovering $32.5 million worth of assets, including footpaths, pipes, and culverts, that had been in their possession for 13 years without their knowledge.
The Grattan Institute’s report further illuminates this issue, revealing that a quarter of Queensland councils are unsure about the exact number of roads or bridges under their jurisdiction. This uncertainty makes effective management challenging, to say the least. Coupled with issues like funding shortages, excessive state government regulations, and recruitment difficulties – with 90% of councils facing such challenges – the task of asset management becomes even more daunting. The implications of these findings are profound, especially in remote areas where infrastructure is most underfunded.
These revelations from Queensland serve as a crucial lesson for anyone involved in public infrastructure and asset management. They highlight the need for robust, detailed, and systematic approaches to asset management. As public stewards, councils are responsible for ensuring that assets are accounted for and maintained efficiently to serve the communities that rely on them.
Read the original report on ABC News for a more comprehensive understanding of this significant issue.