The Federal Government has announced a $500 million extension of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program in the 2022-23 Federal Budget, alongside record infrastructure investment, further disaster funding and financial aid for councils. 

The record infrastructure investment will deliver $17.9 billion to new and existing infrastructure projects across Australia, with the Federal Government’s rolling ten year infrastructure investment pipeline to increase from $110 billion to over $120 billion.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said that strong advocacy from themselves and Australia’s 537 councils helped to deliver the extension of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

ALGA President, Linda Scott, said this extension will help councils deliver more libraries, sporting facilities, community centres, bike paths and playgrounds in local communities, providing free and low-cost activities and delivering cost-of-living savings for all Australians. 

“Over the past two years councils have worked with the Commonwealth to deliver thousands of new local projects through this program,” Cr Scott said. 

“Working with the Commonwealth, local governments have made our cities and regions better places to live and work, and created thousands of new jobs in a tough economic climate.

“Local governments appreciate any funding, but it will be critical for whomever forms the next Commonwealth Government to increase Local Roads and Community Infrastructure funding that will help us to roll out new projects across our nation.”   

Further funding for local councils and communities announced in the Federal Budget included: 

  • $2.8 billion in un-tied Financial Assistance Grants for councils (with $2.1 billion to be paid in 2021-22)
  • $491 million in Roads to Recovery Funding
  • $131 million for the Bridges Renewal Program
  • $818 million over five years for expanding digital mobile coverage in regional Australia

Cr Scott also thanked the Federal Government for responding to ALGA’s call for disaster funding, with Budget announcements including: 

  • $150 million in new funding from the Emergency Response Fund for recovery and post-disaster resilience in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales 
  • $2 billion in support for flood-impacted New South Wales and Queensland primary producers, small businesses, not for profits, and councils
  • A further $3 billion for disaster recovery in forward estimates

Key new commitments funded in the 2022–23 Budget also include:

  • $3.1 billion in new commitments to deliver the $3.6 billion Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package in Victoria, including:
    • $1.2 billion for the Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal in Beveridge, taking the total investment to $1.62 billion
    • $280 million for Road Connections, including Camerons Lane Interchange, to the Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal
    • $740 million for the Western Interstate Freight Terminal in Truganina
    • $920 million for the Outer Metropolitan Ring – South Rail connection to the Western Interstate Freight Terminal
  • $1.6 billion for the Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast (Beerwah-Maroochydore) rail extension (Queensland)
  • $1.121 billion for the Brisbane to the Gold Coast (Kuraby-Beenleigh) faster rail upgrade (Queensland)
  • $1 billion for the Sydney to Newcastle – (Tuggerah to Wyong) faster rail upgrade (New South Wales)
  • $678 million for Outback Way (Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland)
  • $336 million for the Pacific Highway – Wyong Town Centre (New South Wales)
  • $336 million for the Tasmanian Roads Package – Northern Roads Package – Stage 2 
  • $200 million for the Marion Road – Anzac Highway to Cross Road (South Australia)
  • $145 million for the Thomas Road – Dual Carriageway – South Western Highway to Tonkin Highway and interchange at Tonkin Highway (Western Australia)
  • $140 million for Regional Road Safety upgrades (Western Australia)
  • $132 million for Central Australian Tourism Roads (Northern Territory)
  • $120 million for the Adelaide Hills Productivity and Road Safety Package (South Australia)
  • $46.7 million towards the Athllon Drive Duplication (ACT)

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the Federal Government’s record infrastructure investment was keeping Australians moving and supporting thousands of local jobs across the country.

“A strong economy means a stronger future,” Mr Morrison said.

“Continuing to provide record future funding for road and rail projects is a key part of our economic plan for the long term to keep our economy strong.

“By investing in these projects we are delivering the infrastructure that the Australian economy needs to grow, to get Australians home sooner and safer, and generate thousands of jobs and new opportunities for small businesses right across the country.

“Australia’s future success relies on a strong economy. Our strong economic recovery is being driven by our record funding for major road projects right across the country.”

This infrastructure investment will support tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs across Australia over the construction life of these projects. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said the Federal Government is building the infrastructure that will make Australia nation and economy stronger.

“We are investing in projects that will drive the growth of industries that generate the wealth our nation needs to become as strong as possible as quickly as possible,” Mr Joyce said.

“Getting more commodities to ports and sending them overseas will generate more export income, making our nation wealthier and stronger. Better roads and infrastructure will enable that.”

$2.1 billion pre-payment for councils

The Federal Government has announced a $2.1 billion pre-payment on next year’s Financial Assistance Grant to all councils across Australia.

In total, the Commonwealth has committed $2.8 billion in funding to local governments in the 2022-23 Budget; with 75 per cent being brought forward to be paid early to local governments, to help rebuild after the devastating floods and aid in the transition to living with COVID-19.

Nationals Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister and Assistant Minister for Local Government, Kevin Hogan, said pre-paying the Financial Assistance Grant means the Federal Government is backing local government when it needs it most.

“The government is committed to continuing its support to local governments, given their important role in delivering vital services and ensuring quality of life for Australian communities,” Mr Hogan said.

“These grants are untied in the hands of local government, allowing councils to spend the grants according to local priorities – a real shot in the arm for councils and local decision-making in these challenging times.

“A stable and effective local government sector is good for the nation and we will continue to do what is good for the nation through these crises.”

ALGA: more funding needed to create long-lasting benefits 

While acknowledging the Budget’s strong focus on providing immediate and short-term cost-of-living relief, Cr Scott said increased funding to local government is needed to provide longer-lasting benefits. 

“There’s no doubt that many in our communities are struggling with rising fuel and grocery prices as well as a shortage of affordable accommodation,” Cr Scott said. 

“However, increased funding for local government will deliver long-term benefits for every community that will outlast once-off cash payments and temporary fuel excise cuts.” 

Cr Scott said that the increased Financial Assistance Grants will create thousands of new jobs across the country. 

“Supporting local governments to invest in innovative housing solutions will help address the affordable housing crisis we’re seeing in our cities and regions,” Cr Scott said. 

“Working with councils to cut local greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the rubbish we send to landfills and turn our rubbish into new products will help our environment and drive economic development.

“With more support councils could deliver safer roads and address local congestion, unlocking the productivity of our national freight network.

“Funding councils to build more libraries, playgrounds and recreation centres will reduce petrol costs for families, and improve our health and wellbeing.”  

Cr Scott said that, with the election coming up, Australia’s 537 councils are calling on all federal election candidates to commit to a stronger partnership between Federal and Local Governments; to ensure no community is left behind.

Councils Australia-wide react 

Liverpool City Council has welcomed the 2022-23 Federal Budget funding commitment of over $142 million for two key infrastructure projects in the region,  but has called for additional investment as the City prepares for future growth.

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The City of Whittlesea has also welcomed the Budget announcement of a $1.2 billion infrastructure investment for the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal (BIFT), as well as an additional $280 million in funding for upgrading and building essential supporting infrastructure. 

The Budget announcement, alongside the $400 million previously announced by the Federal Government, brings the total planned investment in the precinct to $1.88 billion.

Chair Administrator, Lydia Wilson, said the transformational infrastructure project would not only improve road access and traffic congestion in the City of Whittlesea, but was anticipated to be a major boost for employment, bringing 20,000 jobs to the region from both construction and ongoing operations.

“Securing government funding for this project was one of Council’s major priorities in partnership with Mitchell Shire Council as part of our commitment to deliver a strong local economy so we certainly welcome this announcement today,” Ms Wilson said. 

“We know this project will not only increase local employment opportunities but also encourage additional investment in our rapidly growing northern region.”

 The BIFT is anticipated to inject $3.5 billion annually into Melbourne’s North.

The City of Whittlesea said that the Federal Government announcement will assist in unlocking further economic growth and job opportunities in a region which is projected to contribute $80 billion to the national economy.

Latrobe City Council is also welcoming the continued funding for key programs to support roads and local infrastructure as part of the 2022/23 Federal Budget.

Latrobe City Council Mayor, Cr Kellie O’Callaghan, said, “Key programs such as the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program and the Building Better Regions Fund have consistently delivered great outcomes for Latrobe City and the wider Gippsland region.

“It’s also encouraging to see investment in skills and training, modern manufacturing, recycling and regional jobs creation.

“While we acknowledge the Federal Government is facing the pressures of COVID-19 management and disaster recovery, we will continue to advocate for support for the projects our community are calling for.”

Council’s Federal Budget submission called for investment across five key projects, including flood recovery support, stage three of the Moe Revitalisation Project, a new runway for Latrobe Regional Airport and funding for the establishment of the Gippsland Logistics Precinct and the Gippsland Material Recovery Facility.

Council also acknowledged new measures to tackle the cost of living pressures, including tax offsets for low-and middle-income earners, bonus payments and cuts to the fuel excise.

“We know that people have felt the squeeze of rising fuel and food costs and high property prices, which is at the detriment to the overall health and wellbeing of our community. These measures, although small, will provide some short-term relief,” Mayor O’Callaghan said. 

Hume City Council has also welcomed the $2.3 billion investment in Melbourne’s north as part of the Budget, which includes upgrading Mickleham Road and backing the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal. 

Hume City Council Mayor, Councillor Carly Moore, said the $2.3 billion infrastructure funding injection will create thousands of jobs and stimulate the economy across the north of Melbourne as we rebound from COVID-19. 

“We thank the Australian Government for these strategic investments, which reinforce our position as a powerhouse capable of driving growth in the Victorian and national economies,” Mayor Moore said.

“Hume City Council is excited to see significant federal investment in the Mickleham Road upgrade, after calling for state and federal funding for this project over many years. 

“Should the funding not be enough to get the road duplicated to Craigieburn Road, we will ramp up our efforts to call on the Victorian Government to match the Federal contribution and help relieve traffic congestion for the fast-growing communities of Melbourne’s north.”

SA councils call for more funding

Local Government Association of South Australia President, Mayor Angela Evans, has called for the restoration of Financial Assistance Grants to at least one percent of federal tax revenue – a shift from the 0.55 per cent allocated in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

“Financial Assistance Grants ensure fairness across communities by helping all councils provide vital facilities and services – they are in many ways the lifeblood for economic recovery and growth,” Mayor Evans said.

“As untied grants, they matter now more than ever as we seek to strengthen the economy and support liveability for a better and brighter South Australia.

“Along with ALGA, the national body for local government, we’re also calling for an immediate and once-off $1.3 billion injection of Financial Assistance Grants to boost local economies.

“In the switch from response to recovery, councils have brought forward projects such as road and stormwater upgrades, sports and recreational facilities, tourism precincts and community hubs – providing $290 million of investment into our economy.”

District Council of Orroroo Carrieton Mayor, Kathie Bowman, said Financial Assistance grants were essential to deliver what’s most needed in their community.

“As the smallest council in South Australia, we rely on Financial Assistance Grants to ensure Council can deliver the essential services our community require,” Mayor Kathie Bowman said.

“These untied grants empower councils with the flexibility to allocate the funding where it is needed most.”

This is a developing story, stay tuned to Council for updates. 

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