The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has applauded today’s Federal Government decision to double Roads to Recovery funding from $500 million to $1 billion annually, calling it a “landmark win” for councils.
Federal Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King today announced the Roads to Recovery funding will rise gradually, while Black Spot funding will increase from the current annual commitment of $110 million to $150 million per year.
“This additional investment in the Commonwealth’s two cornerstone local roads investment programs will lead to safer and more productive roads across Australia,” said Minister King.
“We are also committed to delivering the funding local councils need to improve road safety and in a way that reduces the burden on them, allowing more money to be spent on projects and less on administration.
“We will merge the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) and the Bridges Renewal Program (BRP) into a new Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program.”
The amount of funding for the new program will also gradually increase, with $200 million to be available per year, up from the current $150 million total annual investment in the HVSPP and the BRP.
The changes have been recommended by the Independent Strategic Review of the Infrastructure Investment Program and the increases in funding will be phased in over the forward estimates to avoid putting pressure on inflation, supply costs and the construction labour market, the Minister said.
“We will be working with local government stakeholders in the lead-up to the Budget to ensure that changes to the programs respond to their feedback and funding gets spent where it is needed more quickly,” she said.
“The Government recognises that local governments require more funding to manage the rising costs and increased pressure on transport infrastructure due to climate change and extreme weather events.
“These changes will also help ensure funding is stable, predictable and fair into the future.”
Minister King acknowledged the battering regional road networks had taken in recent years due to severe weather events.
“This funding will help councils to fix and maintain our roads. This investment will support regional communities, and help move freight to and from our rural production centres.”
“This funding increase will give councils certainty and the ability to plan, along with a reduction in the administrative burden.
“We are doing this in a responsible way, to give councils the funding they need while also ensuring the increase doesn’t put pressure on inflation.”
ALGA President, City of Sydney Councillor Linda Scott said it was “fantastic” to see the Government recognising the importance of local infrastructure.
She said a $40 million per year increase to Black Spot Program would be welcomed by councils and will help save lives.
“Councils maintain more than 75% of Australia’s roads and this expansion of the Black Spot Program will support us to reduce Australia’s unacceptably high national road toll,” President Scott said.
She also welcomed the move to a new Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program.
“As local road managers, councils play an important role supporting the efficient movement of freight around our nation.”
“This new and expanded program will support us to improve our local roads and infrastructure that are crucial to increasing national productivity, while also improving road safety for all users.
“We thank Minister King for her strong support and commitment to our sector and our communities; and look forward to working with the Government to ensure this new funding is efficiently rolled out,” President Scott said.