Broad call for road fix as locals bear the brunt
The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has renewed its ongoing call for better financial and policy support from federal, state and territory governments to keep local roads running.
The safety and efficiency of regional life depends on its roads being in workable condition, but ALGA says small town councils are being lumped with big bills to keep state and territories on the move.
Speakers at the recent 2014 National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Tamworth said the road and transport agenda was a huge commitment, as local governments manage more than 80 per cent of Australia's road network, by length, with an estimated value of $165 billion.
ALGA President Mayor Troy Pickard said an estimated $7.5 billion per annum is spent on behalf of the nation on the local road component of the national network.
However, this is not enough to meet the backlog and underspend on local road and transport infrastructure, he said.
Mayor Pickard said the Federal Government has highlighted the need for Australia to face up to the productivity challenge if it is to maintain competitiveness and increase economic growth.
“Our Congress in Tamworth has highlighted that local roads are critical to meeting the productivity challenge and they must be adequately funded at the national level,” he said.
“The way we fund our roads must change so that there is a better alignment between the needs of road users and the funding available to councils.
“The release of the State of the Local Road Assets Report highlights the scale of current under investment in local roads, with 11 per cent of local roads and one in five timber bridges in a poor or very poor condition.”
Councils have called upon the Commonwealth and state/territory governments for support in achieving an appropriate balance between providing access to local roads for heavy vehicles, while preserving the asset for all users.
“The Government has stressed that all of the additional revenue raised from the increased fuel excise will go to roads, some of those funds need to flow onto our local road network.
“On behalf of local government I will be actively seeking opportunities to engage the Treasurer, reinforcing Minister Truss’ advocacy, to highlight the national benefit of increased investment in local roads and the risk of these benefits not being realized because of the ongoing revenue constraints faced by councils,” Mayor Pickard said.