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Transport is critically important to the social, cultural and economic success of every Australian community, from our city centres to remote communities. With freight and passenger transport expected to almost double by 2020, the three spheres of government need to take action now.

Roads, bridges and other transport infrastructure are the building-blocks of our nation's mobility and on which transport services depend to connect communities. Local government's key role is to ensure transport services are able to be delivered directly to citizens and industry across the entire nation.

With improved services and infrastructure links, communities flourish instead of languishing and 'stranded towns' are given new life.

Local government has a highly developed understanding of the transport needs of communities—the need for a quality access road network for our industries and, with the ageing of our population, increased access to transport alternatives both in urban and regional Australia.

Local government owns and maintains about 650,000 kilometres of local road, a significant amount of public transport infrastructure and more than 200 airports.

Local government is committed to playing its role and meeting its responsibilities. It has a long history of striving to develop and maintain local transport infrastructure and a proven record of reform and adoption of technical innovation in order to provide effective services to Australia's citizens. Local government also recognises however, that despite its best efforts and commitment to reform, it does not have the resources to meet the challenges to deliver its part of the national transport system in the decade ahead.

The enormity of the task facing local government is well documented as are its funding limitations.

Local government acknowledges and appreciates the Australian Government funding through Roads to Recovery and other programs. Local government also applauds and supports the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) initiatives to bring together the three spheres of government to address the need for transport reform.

Local government has developed a five-point plan that focuses on collaboration and highlights funding needs, particularly from the Australian Government.

This strategy is about forging a partnership between federal and local governments to deliver efficient, effective, and equitable transport services and infrastructure. It outlines the steps that need to be taken to deliver the building blocks which strengthen communities and the economy and it reflects detailed considerations of the issues by local government at the 2006 National Local Roads and Transport Congress.

Without assistance, local government will not be able to deliver on its responsibilities under the COAG reform agenda nor provide the transport services that the Australian community expects and deserves. Local government will work with the Australian Government and, where appropriate, the state governments, to implement this strategy through concrete initiatives. We look forward to building on our working partnership with the Australian Government to deliver the COAG reform agenda and efficient and effective transport services to the Australian community.

1. Local road funding and management

Local government owns and maintains some 650,000 kilometres of local road and spends more than $3.3 billion of its own funds on maintaining these roads.


Permanent funding arrangements for local government to ensure a wellmanaged and sustainable local road system that provides appropriate access and levels of service for all communities.

Achieved through:

  1. Bipartisan federal support for:
    • increased funding for Australia's local roads including ongoing funding for the Roads to Recovery Program separate from, and in addition to, Financial Assistance Grants; and
    • limiting the requirement that councils contribute 30% of own source funding for projects in excess of $1 million under the AusLink Strategic Regional Program;
  2. State and territory governments increasing their local road funding effort in real terms;
  3. Federal and state governments providing local government with a fair share of road based revenues;
  4. The Australian Government providing financial support to local government to establish and implement consistent asset management standards for the local road network and maintain a data base that provides quality information on the status and performance of the network;
  5. Local Government not being disadvantaged by proposed strategic initiatives such as road pricing and infrastructure funding arrangements;
  6. Working with stakeholders in the civil engineering road construction industry to address skills shortages; and
  7. Utilizing, where appropriate, private sector funding.

2. Urban transport solutions

Local government owns and maintains significant public transport infrastructure such as bus shelters and interchanges, and makes major investment in local area traffic management. Integrated local planning underpins effective urban transport solutions.


Transport systems in urban areas that provide a balance between urban amenity, freight efficiency and viable alternatives to the use of private motor vehicles.

Achieved through:

  1. A balance between economic imperatives to protect freight corridors and the social needs of communities;
  2. A clear definition of the respective roles and responsibilities of the three spheres of government in relation to urban transport;
  3. Federal and state/territory governments implementing a whole of government approach to urban and regional transport issues;
  4. Federal and state/territory governments working with local government to accord high priority to areas of special need, such as outer metropolitan areas that are public transport poor, congestion and land use and transport planning; and
  5. The Australian Government committing to urban public transport initiatives through local government.

Partnerships diagram

3. Mobility and access for regional Australians

Local government owns and maintains the vast majority of regional roads and more than 200 airports.


Equitable access, particularly to essential services, through integrated planning and the provision of appropriate transport services for all regional communities.

Achieved through:

  1. Implementing the recommendations of the Making Ends Meet report into regional aviation, to support the viability, safety and security of regional airlines and airports;
  2. Providing regional communities with access to public transport;
  3. Revitalisation of country passenger and freight rail services;
  4. Research on locational disadvantage brought about by factors such as the centralisation of services; and
  5. Upgrading rail crossings to improve safety.

4. Freight management

Local roads, owned and managed by local government, provide the first and final link in the complex national freight management task.


Efficient movement of freight vehicles through local communities in a way which recognises community concerns for safety and amenity.

Achieved through:

  1. Maximising the efficiency of freight logistics chains including use of higher productivity vehicles in ways that are consistent with safety and environmental wishes of communities;
  2. Road infrastructure pricing that takes account of the impact of freight vehicles on communities and that facilitates investment in local road infrastructure commensurate with the freight task;
  3. Revitalisation of rail so that this sector can perform to its full potential;
  4. Fully assessing the impact on the local road network when rail rationalisations or closures are proposed;
  5. Compensating local government for increased freight traffic on local roads following rail closures;
  6. Priority in road project planning for highway bypasses of towns with high volumes of heavy vehicles; and
  7. The National Transport Commission and other agencies developing a communications strategy that keeps local government fully-appraised of developments in road transport reform.

5. Long term financial sustainability of local government

Local government's capacity to maintain more than $80 billion of local road and transport infrastructure is dependent on long-term financial sustainability and effective partnerships.


The long-term financial sustainability of local road and transport systems.

Achieved through:

  1. Increased state and federal funding for local government:
    • Financial assistance grants to be at least one per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue; and
    • The continuation/implementation of separate funding programs for local roads and transport projects;
  2. Adherence by state and federal governments to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cost Shifting;
  3. Partnerships between the three spheres of government to address specific local government transport tasks; and
  4. Constitutional recognition for local government.

Case studies

Supporting the tourist industry

Augusta-Margaret River Shire, WA

The Colourpatch area of Augusta is a very popular beach and river mouth location where tourists congregate in large numbers during the holiday period. Car parking is in short supply and during the high season there is a significant potential for pedestrian and traffic conflict. The council constructed on-street parking and traffic calming devices to reduce pedestrian and traffic conflict. The project extends for approximately 400 metres of beachfront road reserve. The new work involved creating on-road parallel car parking, drainage improvements, new kerbing, resealing with Asphalt and footpath adjustments. Total cost was $183,268 and was completed in June 2006 using Roads to Recovery funding.

Kangaroo island Council, SA

Birchmore Road is an important road both for the local community and for access to major tourist attractions. A section of the road has deteriorated due to the high levels of traffic. A 6.8 kilometre section has been resealed at a total cost of $116,184, of which $109,038 has been contributed by the Roads to Recovery Program.

Improved access to remote communities

Kowanyama Aboriginal Council, QLD

The Kowanyama Council is located about 600 kilometres north-west of Cairns on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The meaning of aboriginal word Kowanyama is 'the land of many rivers'. This highlight describes the reason for the transport difficulties of the area especially during the wet season when the community is dependent on air transport.

The Roads to Recovery program has provided $62,343 to build culverts on the main access road to the community across two creeks. The culverts lift the height of the road to make vehicular access safer for an extended period during the wet season when flooding is a regular occurrence.

Work was undertaken during the 2006 dry season.

Derby-West Kimberly Shire, WA

The Christmas Creek Road traverses black soil (clay) and several creek crossing areas which are prone to being washed out. The road becomes very boggy resulting in severe rutting during the wet season restricting access to pastoral stations and Aboriginal communities (population 400 approx).

A five kilometre section of road is being raised and reconstructed under a joint funding arrangement of Roads to Recovery funding and the council's own funds.

Bridge replacement

Palerang Shire, NSW

The existing five-span timber bridge on the Araluen-Majors Creek Mountain Road across Araluan Creek had deteriorated to the point that it had become unserviceable. Its closure would have meant that an important fruit growing area in the Araluen Valley would not have been able to transport its produce to market. Investigations had shown that it was not economic to repair the bridge given its age and the difficulty of sourcing the necessary timber.

The new bridge was funded jointly by the council and the Roads to Recovery program with council taking responsibility for the design and construction. The council worked closely with the farming community on timing to ensure that farmers had continuous access during the harvest season.

Central Gold Fields Shire, VIC

The existing timber bridge on the Cushendon Road, which is 13.6 metres long had deteriorated and failed to the point where a 5 tonne load limit had been placed on it. This was seriously disrupting truck access to farm properties and increasing the cost of farming operations. The timber bridge has been demolished and replaced with a concrete culvert at a cost of $30,000.

Bicycle paths

Councils in both urban and regional Australia are providing bicycle paths for residents for both recreational and commuting purposes. Even though these are low-cost projects they deliver important social benefits to their local communities.

Brisbane City Council, QLD

Brisbane City Council is constructing a number of longer bike paths both on and off road that connect traffic generators as well as providing recreational opportunities. These routes are connecting destinations such as schools, colleges, TAFE, railway stations and shopping areas to encourage commuter use by providing safe and direct bicycle routes.

Bass Coast Council, VIC

The Bass Coast Council is building a number of short links to join schools and commercial centres to its extensive bicycle path network. These paths will separate bike riders and pedestrians from fast-moving traffic on highways, improving safety and encouraging cycling and walking.

Upgrading roads to assist with traffic management

Isis Shire, QLD

Isis Shire has recognized the need to ease the traffic in the Esplanade which is heavily used by tourists. Council's local knowledge identified the problem and was able to develop a solution that met the needs of the local community. Council used its own and Roads to Recovery funding to widen and extend Acacia Street to encourage through traffic to bypass the Esplanade.


Download the Transport Strategy as a PDF (5 MB).


Contact regarding this paper:

Andy Hrast
Director, Transport Policy
Australian Local Government Association
Tel: 02 6122 9432



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