President’s Column

The Federal Budget is now less than two weeks away and it will be delivered by a Government promising tight fiscal management and facing strong pressure to act to ensure the economy stays buoyant.

With slow economic growth and unemployment across many areas in Australia, ALGA has called for a strong investment in community infrastructure in its submission to the federal budget and will continue this call if required up to and throughout the 2016 federal election campaign. Specifically ALGA is calling for a regional and community infrastructure fund of $300 million per annum for the next four years to address our infrastructure backlog and to stimulate growth over the longer term and build community resilience.

As part of the stimulus response to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the Federal Government heeded ALGA's calls for significant spending in community infrastructure and established the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program. Under this program $1 billion was invested in council community infrastructure projects from 2008-09 with over 3,000 projects across Australia funded. The program aimed to renew local community infrastructure with projects ranging from visitor information centres to playgrounds, bikeways, swimming pools, laneways and footbridges. The program demonstrated that local infrastructure is an important area of national investment and that the councils are both pragmatic and quick to move in delivering these renewal projects for their communities.

The 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers Report into local government financial sustainability highlighted that many councils, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas, do not have the resources to fund critical local infrastructure improvements without assistance from the Federal Government. The PwC report estimated that there was an infrastructure backlog totalling $14.5 billion in local government, and that an extra $2.2 billion per annum in infrastructure spending was required to bridge the gap and maintain local infrastructure.

To update these figures and underpin the call for a community infrastructure funding program, ALGA has commissioned Jeff Roorda and Associates to prepare the National State of the Assets (NSoA) Community Infrastructure Report. Councils have been asked to contribute to this process by providing data on their community infrastructure and I ask all councils to respond to this call so that we can strengthen the case for further Commonwealth investment in this vital area.



Mayor Troy Pickard
ALGA President