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Additional $50m Roads to Recovery funding for councils a good start
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The 2016-17 Federal budget indicates that Roads to Recovery funding will be increased by $50 million per year from 2019-20, which also confirms the continuation of the program beyond 2018-19, but according to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), more is needed to address the $1.2 billion annual funding shortfall to maintain Australia's local roads and to support national productivity improvements.

Mayor Troy Pickard, President of ALGA, said: "ALGA has called for additional funding for the Roads to Recovery program and the extra funds indicated in the budget will be welcomed in helping to address the challenge of maintaining more than 640,000 km of local roads.

"But more needs to be done to ensure the local road network has the capacity required to address access, productivity and road safety issues, especially in regional areas. Additional investment in local roads must be part of the solution to increasing transport productivity on the nation's transport network."

The budget out-years also signalled an expectation that annual indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), which will provide $2.3 billion in untied funding to local government in 2016-17, will return from 2017-18. 

Mayor Pickard welcomed this indication but reiterated the sector’s call for a stronger, public commitment to the restoration of indexation.

"The three-year pause on FAGs indexation implemented in the 2014-15 budget was unexpected and had a severe impact on the sector. We sought a specific commitment from the Government and the Opposition to restore indexation. The indication that indexation is expected to return in 2017-18 is welcome although it does not completely guarantee an end to the freeze, which will reduce ongoing funding for councils around Australia by more $300 million per year."

The budget includes a commitment to maintain spending on infrastructure with major funding commitments in public transport identified.

"A commitment to infrastructure is essential and was one of the strong themes running through ALGA's budget submission and 2016 election plan, and from ALGAs' perspective the additional $60 million in funding for the Bridges Renewal Program and Black Spot Programme will be very welcome. 

"There is a need for continued investment in infrastructure at all levels of government and this should remain a priority for all parties in their upcoming election campaigns. ALGA has proposed some specific initiatives that directly address this issue in its election plan,  Local Government's Plan for an Innovative and Prosperous Australia, which outlines a broad range of initiatives expected to add a total of $7.5 billion to GDP and create more than 19,000 jobs over three years and we’re calling on all parties to consider these proposals in their election platforms."

Media enquiries:

Sharon Akinyi, Director Public Affairs, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) 0418 415 649, sharon.akinyi@alga.asn.au

 

Available for interview:

Mayor Troy Pickard, President Australian Local Government Association



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