Infrastructure remains a key issue on the Federal agenda and there have been some noteworthy developments this week with the Government announcing successful projects under the third and final round of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) and Infrastructure Australia publishing an update to its list of national priority projects.
More than half of the successful projects in this round of the NSRF were from councils and there were a wide variety of projects from restoring cultural facilities to upgrading regional airports. Out of a Round 3 funding pool of $126 million, around $96 million was allocated to council projects, with approximately $12.5 million of that going towards council road projects.
The NSRF, which replaced the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) last year, was developed to focus on areas of low socio-economic status and sought to address disadvantage. The Government is currently developing guidelines for a new regional fund to replace the NSRF, which will be known as the Building Better Regions Fund and the first round is expected to open late this year. The new fund will focus exclusively on areas outside major capital cities.
The details of the new Building Better Regions Fund will be announced in coming months.
The addition of four new projects to the Infrastructure Australia Priority List highlights the importance of infrastructure investment to productivity growth with the new projects covering a major road upgrade as well as passenger rail, freight rail and an intermodal terminal.
The role of infrastructure investment at the local level in productivity improvements is a major focus of the upcoming 2016 National Local Roads and Transport Congress, being held in Toowoomba in just under a month (9-11 November).
The congress also remains an important opportunity for councils to engage with Federal Government and Opposition politicians on road and infrastructure policies, and to influence significant change in those policies. Previous congresses have helped to influence the successful implementation and continuity of programs such as Roads to Recovery and the Bridges Renewal Program.
If you have not yet registered for the Roads Congress, I encourage you to do so on the ALGA website.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the congress.
Mayor Troy Pickard