A commitment of $2 billion for local road infrastructure and road safety upgrades in the Federal Budget has been welcomed by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA).
IPWEA President Rita Excell said the funding announcement was recognition that an effective national infrastructure needed to be a combination of both larger “big ticket” projects such as highways between major centres with more local projects.
“For a majority of people, their local roads and the infrastructure they use on a daily basis is of the greatest importance to them and makes the biggest difference to their lives,” Ms Excell said.
“We welcome the Government’s recognition of the critical nature of local infrastructure, and our members look forward to playing a key role in effectively planning and executing on this additional investment to the benefit of their communities.”
The budget includes an additional $1 billion for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, and a further $1 billion for road safety upgrades, taking the total Federal investment in the Road Safety Program to $3 billion. There is also a further $250 million investment in the Building Better Regions Fund.
Ms Excell noted that the funding for these projects was provided on a “use it or lose it” basis, and said this put the responsibility on local authorities to be proactive in their response, but may disadvantage those communities that do not have access to technical engineering support.
IPWEA’s Chief Executive, David Jenkins also welcomed the budget announcement as a positive for communities and IPWEA members.
“The investment is of course a positive, but it needs to be invested wisely and executed well, and that means leveraging but also developing the skills of IPWEA’s membership at a high level,” said Mr Jenkins.
“Now that we have this funding, the task ahead is to ensure the planning process is rigorous, and that also means developing the people to deliver on the projects.”