Local Government has an important role to play in the broader national productivity agenda to enable more efficient movement of freight and remove first and last mile constraints across the national freight network, according to Infrastructure Australia's 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan released today.
The report, which encourages a collaborative effort between all levels of government to support strategic investments and deliver productivity-enhancing reforms, gives prominence to the Australian Local Government Association's (ALGA) call for greater levels of investment in freight infrastructure funding to address both the challenges and opportunities in first and last mile regional roads projects and drive productivity improvements.
Mayor Troy Pickard, President of ALGA, said: "Local roads are an essential component of the national road network and, in aggregate, make a significant contribution to state and national productivity. They are the building blocks providing access to and from our front gates to local, regional, state, national and international services and markets.
"There is a need for greater Federal support and investment in local roads through Local Government. In the absence of this support, the effects of local road pinch points and bottlenecks continue to hinder local and regional economic development, ultimately affecting the development of the nation as a whole.
"Programs like Roads to Recovery help with the basic maintenance of our local roads, but with freight traffic only getting bigger and their loads heavier, more needs to be done to upgrade the local road network to handle the significantly higher volumes of freight traffic and provide safe access for all major classes of heavy vehicles.
"ALGA strongly supports the report's focus on improvements in productivity through investment in infrastructure and we have argued that, in its May budget, the Government should commit to a program directed at regional road projects, funded at $200 million per annum for five years, to ensure that freight connectivity issues and first and last mile issues are addressed to improve national productivity.
"We must unlock local and regional productivity improvements through investment that improves access for freight vehicles and connectivity between local roads and preferred state and national freight routes."
Sharon Akinyi, Director Public Affairs, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) 0418 415 649, firstname.lastname@example.org