Stimulus puts councils on front line: ALGA

By Adam Coleman

Local government has welcomed the Rudd Government’s $42 billion stimulus package and what it sees as recognition that it is the tier of government best equipped to respond to the economic downturn.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan today in a move to combat the severe global recession.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president, Geoff Lake applauded what he described as “the key role” the Federal Government identified for local government in its package.

“With this second stimulus package, it is clear that the Australian government sees local government with our dispersed and localised networks as the best placed level of government to spend money quickly and at short notice throughout all local communities in Australia.”

“The $890 million for transport and community infrastructure announced today puts local government squarely at the front line of Australia’s response to the global economic meltdown,” he said.

According to Cr Lake, the Federal Government package includes funding for a number of proposals made by ALGA in its Budget submission including $90 million for an extra 350 accident black spots; $150 million for upgrading level crossings; and $500 million for community infrastructure such as libraries, town halls, community centres and sport centres.

Infrastructure funding boost

The $500 million allocated for community infrastructure expands on the announcement last year in November of $300 million in infrastructure funding for councils across Australia.

“This injection of additional funding for community facilities at the local level is without precedent and will mean a boost for jobs in local communities hit by the economic slowdown,” he says.

“It will also mean that projects previously unable to be afforded by councils will now be able to be delivered immediately.”

Local government also welcomed the $3.9 billion earmarked to provide free insulation for 2.7 million homes and to fund an increased rebate for solar hot water.

“These decisions demonstrate that there can be benefits both for the economy and the environment from targeted investments,” he said.

The Federal Treasury estimates that the Plan will support up to 90,000 jobs in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and provide a boost to economic growth of around ½ per cent of GDP in 2008-09 and around ¾ per cent to 1 per cent of GDP in 2009-10.

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