Boosting road and infrastructure funding was a major focus of ALGA’s 2023 National Local Roads, Transport and Infrastructure Congress, held in Canberra this week.
With around 250 council delegates from across Australia in attendance, the Congress had a broad focus on community infrastructure, renewable energy deployment and integration, innovations in active transport, waste and recycling, affordable housing and resilient telecommunications.
ALGA President, City of Sydney Councillor, Linda Scott, opened the event by highlighting the urgent need for more funding to repair roads and infrastructure in the wake of rising inflation and costs.
“The Roads to Recovery Program is incredibly important but it hasn’t increased in years, despite the growing costs of materials and labour. So we’re advocating for an increase from $500 million to $800 million per year, that will support all councils to invest in our national local road network,” President Scott said.
“As a sector of government that collects less than four percent of taxation, this has become a big challenge.
“So ALGA continues to advocate for the extra support councils so desperately need, and this means restoring federal Financial Assistance Grants to at least one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue,” she said.
Keynote speaker, Natasha Bradshaw (pictured, above), from the Grattan Institute also presented some preliminary results from new research into local road funding, which showed that over the past 20 years, Federal Financial Assistance Grants have failed to keep pace with the rising costs of constructing and maintaining local roads.
The findings also confirmed regional, rural and remote councils face additional and sometimes insurmountable difficulties, due to smaller rate payer bases, larger geographical areas, and less staff.
Federal Assistant Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Senator Carol Brown (pictured, above) discussed national transport infrastructure and the importance of road safety.
Delegates also heard from a panel of experts who discussed innovations and the latest trends in automated heavy vehicle access and data collection in Australia.
National Emergency Management Agency Coordinator-General, Brendan Moon spoke about how councils can better navigate federal disaster recovery and response arrangements.
(Photos courtesy of the Australian Local Government Association).