The restoration of indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) announced in last year’s budget was warmly welcomed by our sector, but we were left picking up the pieces after the three-year freeze permanently reduced the base level of the FAGs payments.
Will this Tuesday’s Federal Budget help fill the gap?
With the permanent dent made to our core grant stream, this year ALGA urged the Government to help local communities build their economic resilience by investing in infrastructure, investing in job creation and providing continued support for essential community services. In its Budget submission, ALGA called on the Government to:
- help maintain living standards and local economic growth by restoring the quantum of the FAGs to a level equal to at least 1 percent of Commonwealth tax revenue
- establish a Local Freight Productivity Investment Plan, funded at $200 million per annum for five years, to ensure that first mile/last mile and freight connectivity issues are addressed
- improve the safety and management of local roads by doubling Roads to Recovery funding, and
- fund community infrastructure at a cost of $300 million per annum for four years to stimulate growth over the longer term and build community resilience.
Of course, the reality of the pressures on the Commonwealth Budget is not lost on us. We know first-hand the challenges of managing the balance between prudent fiscal management and investment in our communities.
This is why I’ve worked hard during my advocacy in Canberra to make it clear that, if supported, each of our proposals will boost local economies as well as the national economy by – when considered together – adding more than $9.5 billion to Gross Domestic Product and more than 24,000 new jobs, with most jobs created in the regions.
As well as advocating in Canberra, I put the call out to councils in March to add their voices to our advocacy. To the councils that were able to reinforce our budget priorities with their local Federal Members – I thank you!
We will see on budget night whether the Government heard our combined calls for greater investment in local government, local communities and local jobs.
Mayor David O’Loughlin