2011 National Local Roads and Transport Congress Communiqué
Mount Gambier, SA - 18 November 2011
More than 300 representatives of councils from across Australia meeting as the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Mount Gambier, South Australia, passed the following resolution calling on the Federal Government to:
- recognise the successful delivery of the Roads to Recovery Program by local government since 2000;
- continue the Roads to Recovery Program on a permanent basis to assist local government meet its responsibilities of providing access for its communities;
- continue the Roads to Recovery Program with the current administrative arrangements; and
- provide an increased level of funding under a future Roads to Recovery Program that recognises the shortfall of funding on local roads of $1.2 billion annually.
In passing this resolution delegates committed their councils to an ongoing campaign to achieve the objectives of the resolution.
Delegates stressed that much more needs to be done and reminded the Government of the estimated funding shortfall of $1.2 billion annually on local roads just to maintain current conditions. They expressed concern that continued under-investment in local roads will increasingly hinder social and economic development at the local level and ultimately the nation as a whole.
Delegates also confirmed their support for annual indexation of Roads to Recovery funding, to reflect increased construction costs and for the reinstatement of a program to fund investment in regionally strategic roads.
Delegates reaffirmed the obligation of councils to manage assets effectively and noted the significant efforts councils have made to improve the management of local road assets. Delegates also reminded the Federal Government that improved asset management alone could not meet the backlog of funding on local roads.
Delegates expressed dismay at the level of death and injury on Australian roads and committed local government to striving to achieve a 30% reduction in deaths and injuries by 2020 set in the National Roads Safety Strategy 2011-2020. Delegates reminded the Federal Government that one of the best ways of improving road safety is to improve roads- better roads are safer roads. This is recognised in the safe systems approach that underpins the National Roads Safety Strategy 2011-2020.
Delegates expressed concern that no substantial additional funding had been committed by the Federal Government to achieving the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 and called on it to devote additional funding to meet the road safety objective of 30% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.
Delegates noted that the Federal Government's own analysis of the outcomes of Roads to Recovery funds by councils shows a strong emphasis on safety.
The Congress acknowledged the significant contribution that the Roads to Recovery Program funding has made to improving local roads and the economic, social and community benefits the program has achieved to date and congratulated the Federal Government for continuing the Program to 2014.
Delegates noted the compendium of Roads to Recovery Program funded projects as a small sample of the good work undertaken by local government with Federal funds.
Delegates welcomed the working arrangements for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator which aim to continue local government's control over heavy vehicle access to local roads and looked forward to additional technical support from the Regulator. Delegates also raised concerns that current legislation does not ensure that local government has control over access to its roads. Delegates committed their councils to working cooperatively with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to establish effective and efficient access arrangements. They expressed a desire to see productivity gains achieved by improved access for heavy vehicles shared between the industry and local road authorities by the return of additional funds to those authorities.
Delegates reminded the Federal Government that:
- Over 80% of roads are local roads;
- 36% of all kilometres travelled in Australia are on local roads.
- 30% of kilometres by medium vehicles and 16% by heavy vehicles occurs on local roads;
- local roads are predominantly funded by councils from their own revenue sources;
- all Australians are entitled to expect adequate transport infrastructure to enable reasonable access to basic facilities;
- social cohesion and inclusion is dependent on access to social, medical and educational facilities in both urban and regional Australia and is critically dependent on an efficient and effective transport system;
- in regional areas the movement of people depends on good roads because of reduced rail and aviation services;
- rail is important in both urban and regional Australia and there is a need to strategically develop rail infrastructure and resolve access problems to enable the appropriate modal distribution of freight;
- there is a need for adequate funding to replace ageing bridges on local roads; and
- any future road pricing arrangements should ensure that charges cover the actual full cost of the local road network rather than just recovering current inadequate levels of expenditure, and that all this revenue be spent on roads.
Finally, delegates confirmed the need for local government to be recognised in the Australian Constitution to ensure that the Federal Government can provide direct funding to local government, for example through the Roads to Recovery Program. Delegates noted the importance of bipartisan support and called on all major political parties at the federal and state level to support constitutional recognition of local government.