Rudd commits $300 million to local infrastructure

By Angela Dorizas

The Rudd Government has announced a $300 million investment in community infrastructure for all of Australia’s 565 local government areas.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told delegates at the inaugural Australian Council of Local Government (ACLG) meeting held today in Canberra, that the $300 million investment had been brought forward to stimulate the economy during the global economic crisis.

“This initial $300-million capital injection into the program will be delivered by 30 June 2009 in two programs,” Mr Rudd said.

“$250-million will be allocated to each council and shire based on a formula that recognises need and population growth, but with minimum allocation of a $100,000.

“Second, the Commonwealth will invite bids for a further $50-million to be invested in large scale local projects such as new sports stadia, entertainment precincts and cultural centres that require a large Commonwealth contribution, $2-million or more.”

The $300 million infrastructure project will fund social and cultural infrastructure, including town halls, community centres, libraries and parks; sport and recreation facilities, including sporting grounds, stadiums, pools and playgrounds; tourism infrastructure such as tourist information centres; and access facilities, including bus shelters, footbridges and boat ramps.

Mr Rudd called on councils to begin a speedy rollout of  local infrastructure that would deliver an immediate boost to the economy, along with long-term community developments.

“Moneys from both funds will need to be expended by the end of September of next year,” he said. “Our intention is to have this spending done as quickly as possible.”

The Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, said the investment in local infrastructure would deliver both economic and social benefits to communities across Australia.

“Local government infrastructure is essentially egalitarian in its nature,” Mr Albanese said.

“It is those families who don’t have the big backyard for whom the local playground or the local park is so important. Everyone, each and every Australian, is equal when they go through the turnstiles at their local municipal pool.”

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