|Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressing a meeting of local government in Canberra. Image: ACLG.|
By Angela Dorizas
Local government will receive $100 million in federal funding for regional and local community infrastructure.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the new funding at the Australian Council of Local Government (ACLG) meeting at Parliament House in Canberra.
It is the third round of the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program (RLCIP) funding, bringing the Rudd Government’s total investment through the program to more than $1.1 billion since November 2008.
“Today I’m proud to announce that the Australian Government will continue to be partners with you in the future,” Mr Rudd said.
“Consistent with our Government’s fiscal rules we’ll be making a further investment, an initial investment of $100 million, in the RLCIP.
“It brings additional benefits for families who rely on their local community’s facilities and infrastructure in all parts of Australia.”
The RLCIP has so far funded more than 5000 community infrastructure projects, including swimming pools, bike paths, sports grounds and facilities and environmental and disability-access infrastructure.
Mr Rudd said local government would be allocated the same amount of funding as the last round of the RLCIP, with shares determined by a transparent process based on data collected by state and territory local government grants commissions.
The surprise announcement was welcomed by the sector’s two peak representative bodies, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA).
Funding of community infrastructure was a key component of ALGA’s 10-Point Plan of local government policy priorities, released earlier this week.
In the document, ALGA called for an ongoing community infrastructure program modelled on the Roads to Recovery scheme, providing regular annual funds to councils.
Although that recommendation was not taken up by the Federal Government, ALGA president Geoff Lake welcomed the third round of RLCIP funding.
“What we’re interested in is results,” Cr Lake told Government News.
“We would like to see an annual program, but we’d prefer to see the actual money hitting the ground in the councils and communities.
“That’s what we’ve seen over the last two years, albeit in the absence of an annual program.
“We’re happy with what we’ve got. We’ll be unhappy if there is no more money between now and the next five years or so.”
Cr Lake said ALGA would continue to push for an annual funding program for community infrastructure.
LGMA national president Paul West said the third round of infrastructure funding reflected the improved relationship between the Commonwealth and local government.
“The fact that they’re going to put another $100 million into local projects is just more evidence that the Government is very serious about working with local government,” Mr West told Government News.
“I look forward to the roll out of the program.”
Mr West said local government management was “acutely aware” of community infrastructure backlogs and was working to address the dual challenge of ageing infrastructure and demands for new assets.
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