The traffic congestion experienced by many of Australia's major cities is a symptom of a larger infrastructure funding issue that is taking its toll on Australia's productivity, Mayor Troy Pickard, President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), has said at the launch of a joint statement signed by ALGA and seven other peak bodies in Sydney today.
"Years of under-investment in public infrastructure, particularly transport infrastructure, means that we now have a national infrastructure network that is struggling to meet the needs of Australian businesses and communities, with traffic jams set to cost the nation an estimated $53 billion a year by 2031," Mayor Pickard said.
"The Government’s plans to accelerate major infrastructure projects is progress in the right direction, but with trends showing that infrastructure spending is tracking downwards, more needs to be done to ensure that we have the appropriate infrastructure to support Australia’s economy to remain competitive."
ALGA and the signatories of the joint statement – the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, Planning Institute of Australia, Australian Logistics Council, Urban Development Institute of Australia, Property Council of Australia, National Farmer's Federation and Green Building Council of Australia – are calling for a commitment ahead of the July 2 election from the government and all Federal political parties to ensure ongoing investment of no less than five per cent of GDP into productive infrastructure projects that support continued economic growth and boost national productivity.
"We must move away from the fragmented infrastructure funding habits of the past and start taking a long-term, strategic and planned approach to infrastructure investment, and local roads must be considered as part of this approach," Mayor Pickard said.
"That is why, as part of its election plan, ALGA is proposing to unlock the local and regional productivity of local roads through a strategic investment of $200 million a year for five years, which would improve access for freight vehicles and enhance connectivity between local roads and preferred state and national freight routes, adding an estimated $1.07 billion to Australia's GDP by just the third year of this investment.
"Maintaining and improving our standard of living in the future will depend on increasing our productivity. A greater level of investment in productive infrastructure in our cities and regions will benefit communities across the country and the nation as a whole."
Sharon Akinyi, Director Public Affairs, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) 0418 415 649, firstname.lastname@example.org