Thursday, February 29, 2024

LGNSW calls for rethink on infrastructure cuts

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) is calling on the Federal Government to reconsider recently announced infrastructure cuts, saying the move could increase Australia’s housing crisis.

LGNSW President, Broken Hill City Councillor, Darriea Turley AM said the move to shelve a swathe of projects would disproportionately impact NSW, which continues to grow despite severe accommodation shortages.

“This is a short-sighted decision when so many of these projects are exactly what is required to accommodate population growth and provide the enabling infrastructure for increased housing supply,” President Turley said. 

“We will lose the expected productivity gains and jobs associated with the projects, over and above the long-term benefits for the regional communities the projects were designed to serve.”

“This decision came out of the blue without any consultation with councils and communities on the projects to be cut and I would urge the Federal Government to take another look at the list of projects and reconsider,” said President Turley.

Federal Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, last week announced the Government’s Infrastructure Policy Statement, which she says will guide Commonwealth funding of “properly planned and targeted” infrastructure across the country.

“We are committed to working in partnership with the states and territories, who are our primary infrastructure delivery partners,” the Minister said at the time of the announcement.

She said the Government had three priorities for investment: productivity, liveability and susteainability.

To be successful under the new framework, projects will need to have at least two of the following characteristics: Federal contribution of at least $250 million and/or; align with Federal priorities outlined in the Policy Statement; be situated or connected to the National Land Transport Network and/or other key freight routes; support broader national priorities such as housing or minerals.

President Turley said the new policy was a bitter blow for communities hard hit by natural disaster over the last few years.

“The only positive our communities are being offered is the long overdue increase in road funding,” she said.

“While we are horrified at the infrastructure cuts, we do very much welcome this critical increase which doubles Roads to Recovery funding from $500 million to $1 billion each year, and the $40 million increase in annual Black Spot funding.

“These funding programs are critical to the maintenance, improvement and safety of our local road infrastructure, and we hope it will help us chip away at a roads maintenance backlog estimated by the NRMA to be as high as $2.6 billion.”

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