Billion dollar ‘opportunity’ to fix Australia’s local roads

ALGA president Councillor Linda Scott.

Federal funding to Australia’s 537 local governments should be increased by $1 billion every year to address the critical state of the nation’s local road infrastructure, according to a new independent Grattan Institute report.

ALGA President Councillor Linda Scott said the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Investment Program (IIP) review provided an ideal opportunity to address the Grattan Institute’s recommendations and support councils to deliver safer and more productive roads.

“With the Government looking at our future infrastructure investment pipeline and projects, it’s important this review also considers how we maintain our existing assets,” Cr Scott said.

“Australian councils manage almost 680,000km of local roads while collecting less than four percent of taxation.

“Local roads are a critical part of our national road network, so we need an urgent national funding solution.”

The Potholes and pitfalls: how to fix local roads report recommends increasing federal Financial Assistance Grants to councils by $600 million per year, as well as Roads to Recovery funding by $400 million per year, with both federal programs to be indexed annually.

Cr Scott said: “We have consistently advocated for Financial Assistance Grants to be restored to at least one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue, and for an increase in Roads to Recovery funding.

“This new Grattan Institute research shows federal funding programs aren’t keeping up with the soaring costs of constructing and maintaining roads.

“More funding for road maintenance will also mean safer roads and will help reduce our unacceptably high national road toll, especially in rural and regional areas.”

Cr Scott said communities should not have to wait for funding to address this important national issue.

“Without urgent funding, the state of our roads will continue to decline and only get more expensive to fix.”

The Grattan Institute’s report also highlighted the impact of increased road use – by passenger and freight vehicles – on Australian roads, recommending a $200 million per year fund to help assess and upgrade local roads identified as key freight routes.