Mixed messages coming out of the Albanese Government on urgently needed funding for flood damaged roads will provide no solace for Councils left responsible for carrying out the repairs.
Nationals Deputy Leader, Senator Perin Davey echoed the concerns raised by local governments with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) calling the issue a state of emergency.
“Local Government needs help to get our country moving again but all they are getting is mixed messages and self-congratulation from the Government.
“During question time the Minister for Regional Development, Kristy McBain claimed the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LCRI) would be used to fix flood impacted roads.
“Meanwhile at Senate Estimates the bureaucrats responsible for the program were saying the program was not a flood response program.
“In reality if Councils were to follow Minister McBain’s advice they would have less funds to undertake routine maintenance and upgrades.
Senator Davey said it was disappointing the Minister was trying to claim credit for responding to the flood crisis through an existing, ongoing program designed to support the core business of local governments, not natural disaster response.
Acknowledging some help from the Commonwealth Government for roads damaged by floods through the Australian Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, Senator Davey said consecutive La Niña conditions and ongoing wet means our roads network is severely degraded and more needs to be done.
“At a minimum the Albanese Government should look to match the NSW Government commitment of an additional $50 million pothole fund for councils to get our roads back up to scratch.
According to LGNSW the urgent call for the NSW and Federal Governments to increase their existing road funding commitments in the wake of this year’s catastrophic floods was unanimously supported by NSW mayors and councillors attending the congress.
As part of the Statewide Roads Emergency, LGNSW is calling for:
• An acceleration and significant increase in funding for the $1.1 billion Fixing Local Roads and Fixing Country Bridges program
• A boost to Roadblock Grant funding to compensate for the damage to the regional road network
• New funding to provide councils with plant machinery and skilled workers to expedite road repairs.
“Local governments are already struggling, and many have had to raid their roads budget to bring roads up to scratch it’s vital that the Albanese Government stop claiming to be giving when telling councils to use their existing funds,” Senator Davey said.