An increase in federal funding for local roads has been hailed as a potential game changer for councils that have been struggling to keep up with an increasing infrastructure gap, according to the peak body for local government engineers, IPWEA (Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia).
The Federal Government’s commitment to boost funding for the Roads to Recovery program by $1.105 billion over two years will allow more councils to tackle an annual infrastructure funding gap that currently stands at $447 million. IPWEA NSW President Warren Sharpe praised the move.
“Councils have been calling for funding reform for years and this is a great sign that the Federal Government is moving towards a long-term fix,” he said. “The government’s commitment to spending the whole income from fuel excise indexation on roads infrastructure represents a once-in-a-generation chance to address a funding gap that’s constrained local communities for too long.
“It’s now up to council to maintain their own funding levels and deliver the extra works now funded. This will provide a significant boost to employment in regional areas giving local economies a kick along,” Mr Sharpe said.
Manager of the Roads and Transport Directorate Mick Savage backed those comments and called for more action to tackle the local government infrastructure funding gap. “With over 85 per cent of NSW roads managed by councils you can bet this announcement will be welcomed in town halls and council chambers across NSW, but we’re still stuck with the question of what happens after the two-year boost expires.
“Ultimately we will need to move to a best-practice funding model that provides the financial stability to plan infrastructure spending for the coming decades,” Mr Savage said.
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