President’s Column

The Government will deliver its second Budget next week against the backdrop of a soft Australian economy and an uncertain political environment. The Prime Minister has foreshadowed a budget which will be "dull", "boring" and "frugal", with a focus on restoring trust with families. This suggests a relatively low-key budget with few surprises and no major initiatives beyond what has already been signalled for families. It now appears unlikely that the Budget will contain any new initiatives in the area of local infrastructure, an unfortunate outcome and a missed opportunity for the Federal Government. Indeed, now is the time in the economic cycle when we need to invest in infrastructure which will drive future productivity improvements and growth at both the national and local levels.   

The major initiatives ALGA is seeking in this Budget include an end to the freezing of the Financial Assistance Grants, which will end up taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of local communities, the establishment of a new Community Infrastructure Program to provide $300 million per annum over the next four years for local infrastructure and a new $100 million annual program focused on strategic regional roads which will enhance regional productivity by improving access for freight vehicles and connectivity between local roads and preferred state and national freight routes.  These initiatives lay the groundwork for future prosperity and if they are not addressed in this Budget they will form the core of ALGA's advocacy in the lead up to the 2016 Election.   

The good news for councils in the Federal Budget will be delivery on the Government's commitments to double Roads to Recovery in the next financial year and also increase Roads Safety Blackspots funding from $60 million to $100 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17.  In addition, I hope the Government will also respond positively to our joint advocacy with the Australian Airports Association and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to ensure the continuation of funding for regional and remote aerodromes under the Regional Aviation Access Programme. These aerodromes play an important commercial and social role that needs to be recognised and supported through the continuation of the Programme.



Mayor Troy Pickard
ALGA President