More NSW Budget poured into filling mining potholes

By Paul Hemsley

Deteriorating council roads and bridges in regional New South Wales suffering years of costly wear and tear inflicted by the mining industry will finally get increased financial relief worth after the O’Farrell government forked out $120 million in the 2013-14 Budget under the Resources for Regions Program.

The state government funding towards local government maintenance programs such as the Regional Road Block Grants and Repair Program has been welcomed by financially constrained councils that have been picking up the tab for elevated road maintenance expenses without reaping the royalties that flow to other tiers of government.

Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) joint-president Ray Donald said councils have been calling for an increase in funding to offset the negative impact the growing mining industry is having on local infrastructure in regional NSW.

Mr Donald said the $120 million allocation is “certainly more helpful” to councils and their communities than the $9.9 million in the 2012-13 Budget.

However the funding allocations for eight regional councils in the NSW Budget is still well short of what LGNSW and other councils have been lobbying for, which has previously included a push to introduce a national “user-pays” scheme to more accurately sheet back the costs that heavier vehicles like trucks generate for those needing to maintain roads across NSW and other states.

Although a “user-pay” scheme has received significant backing from councils and even the federal Treasury because of its potential to solve the long-term road maintenance costing problem those, industries to whom the costs would be reallocated are predictably less keen.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services Andrew Stoner said the $120 million funding will be delivered over two phases to support economic and social infrastructure projects in mining affected communities.

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