NSW might return local roads to State

The NSW Government has established a panel to assess whether to hand back to the State management and responsibility for 15,000 km of local roads in rural and regional areas.

Led by former NRMA president Wendy Machin, other panelists include people from local government, roads, and transport sectors.

Deputy Premier Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the expert panel will review the road classification framework and recommend roads for transfer to the NSW Government.

“Everyone in a regional area has a story about a road that isn’t up to scratch and turns their knuckles white when driving on it, and that isn’t good enough,” he said.

“This project is even more important now, with the drought and bushfires heavily impacting regional councils.

“Road maintenance is something they shouldn’t have to manage on their own.”

Local Government NSW President, Linda Scott, welcomed the government’s announcement which followed years of strong advocacy by the body to reduce the administrative and financial burden on local councils.

“The management of tens of thousands of kilometres of roads by rural and regional councils is yet another example of cost shifting, in which local councils take on more responsibilities for services and infrastructure without the provision of adequate funding,” Cr Scott said.

“It’s one of the most significant problems facing councils. In 2018/19, about $820 million was cost-shifted to NSW councils, part of a burden estimated at $6.2 billion over 10 years.”

Consulting councils about which roads should be given to the state and by priority would help ensure the panel’s report can be delivered to the Government before July 2021, Cr Scott added.