Road funding $1 billion short, says local government body


The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has made public its submission to the 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan. It wants more money for local roads.

The Plan is being developed by Infrastructure Australia in response to issues raised in the Australian Infrastructure Audit 2015. ALGA says it generally supports the findings in the Audit, which looked at the future demand for infrastructure over the next 15 years, but that there is a significant shortfall of over $1 billion a year in funding for local roads, which means infrastructure goals will not be achieved.

This is despite the additional funding from the $2.1 billion program Roads to Recovery scheme, which narrowly passed the Senate in 2014.

ALGA’s submission focuses largely on transport matters, though the audit took a broader view of the infrastructure challenges in Australia. ALGA President Troy Pickard said this was because transport is an important national policy priority.

“The submission also addresses water services and planning and governance issues, as well as providing summary comment on the Federation White Paper aspects. It incorporates contributions from a number of the state local government associations on a range of matters. But we have focussed on roads and other transport issues, because these are a particular focus for local government.”

Mr Pickard said the state and territory LGAs were making separate submissions, which would address telecommunications, energy and indigenous communities issues, amongst others.

The key issues raised in ALGA’s submission include:

  • local government transport and infrastructure funding
  • maintenance and asset management
  • first mile/last mile issues
  • funding and charging from a heavy vehicle reform perspective
  • planning and governance.

The submission also includes proposed strategies designed to help councils manage their infrastructure and to equalise infrastructure access across their communities. The full submission is available here (PDF).

“Local roads make up much of local government’s $354 billion non-financial assets,” said Mr Pickard. “They are the building block of our nation’s transport network. The management of these extensive local roads is no mean feat for local government and councils are doing a commendable job within limited resources.

“This task comes with some key funding challenges that need addressing to assist councils to continue to manage their local roads effectively.”

Mr Pickard said that the maintenance of the local road system is one of local government’s major tasks, and for most councils it is the single largest item of expenditure. He quoted a 2010 ALGA study which found that expenditure on local roads was less than the life cycle cost, and the shortfall in funding to simply maintain Australia’s local roads in the period from 2010 to 2025 is estimated to be around $1.2 billion annually.

“Strong financial and policy support is needed from the Commonwealth to make the necessary investments in the local roads network and enable councils to increase funding to key projects. ALGA will continue to work in partnership and collaboration with the Federal Government to address the road funding challenges.”

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