By Jane Garcia in Canberra
Australian local government has created a five-part plan asking the Federal Government to build on the successful Roads to Recovery partnership on roads funding and broaden the agenda for a joint approach to the transport challenges affecting communities over the next ten years.
The Local Government Roads and Transport Strategy was launched this morning (November 30) at the National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. It evolved from a strategy developed at the Local Roads and Transport Congress in Launceston in 2005 and was refined at the same event in Alice Springs in July this year.
The strategy focuses on five key areas of the transport system:
* local road funding and management;
* urban transport;
* mobility and access for regional Australians;
* freight management; and
* long-term financial sustainability of local government.
“Urban councils are increasingly concerned with providing the type of infrastructure that is suitable for an aging population, congestion and the conflict between urban amenity and trucks noise and pollution,” Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Paul Bell told delegates.
“Regional and rural councils continue to have a very strong interest and need for road funding. They also have concerns about access for their ageing populations, congestion and conflict with trucks particularly in major regional centres.
“Regional councils also recognise that decisions outside their control, such as railway closures, have direct impacts on their road systems. Many of these councils also have had airports thrust on to them and are no left with the financial burden of maintaining them.”
These issues have been refined into “a very eye-catching booklet which we aim to have on coffee tables all over Parliament House and the corridors of power”, he said.
According to Cr Bell, the strategy will remind Australian Government that the freight task facing Australia will not only occur on the main interstate routes but also on local roads. Just about every freight journey begins and ends on a local road, irrespective of whether the interstate or inter-regional part of the journey is by road or rail, he said.
“Transport however is more than freight. It is about providing access for our people as well as our industries. With the aging of the population there is a need for increased access to transport alternatives both in urban and regional Australia ,” Cr Bell said.
The roads and transport strategy emphasises that Federal funding of transport infrastructure is not just a grant – it is an investment that will pay a dividend of improved economic efficiency and meeting community expectations. It also promotes that local government has the expertise, local knowledge and a proven record of delivery on transport issues, as demonstrated by the Roads to Recovery Programs.
ALGA, the state local government associations and individual councils will use the Local Government Roads and Transport Strategy to lobby their local members and the Federal Government directly, he said.
The strategy will be presented to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads and the Treasurer and Finance Minister on Monday. It will also be sent to ministers of the Federal Opposition in a bid to receive bipartisan support.
For a copy of the strategy see the ALGA website at www.alga.asn.au
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