A wake-up call for Australia’s infrastructure

New research shows that around one in 10 Australian libraries, recreation and sporting facilities, community centres, stormwater systems, swimming pools, local airports, bridges and roads are in poor condition with significant defects, requiring increased maintenance or in some cases replacement.

ALGA President Linda Scott said this finding in ALGA’s 2021 National State of the Assets Report highlighted the urgent need for better funding partnerships across all levels of government.

“Councils own and manage local infrastructure worth approximately $342 billion, while collecting just 3.5 percent of Australian taxation,” Cr Scott said.

“Maintaining these facilities is very costly but incredibly important for the health and wellbeing – as well as the productivity – of our communities.”

“We appreciate every dollar we receive in Commonwealth funding – as well as the support we receive from our state and territory governments – but often it’s tied to delivering new infrastructure projects.”

“This new research is a timely reminder of the importance of maintaining what we already have, as well as looking ahead to what our communities will need in the future.”

“The Financial Assistance Grants all councils receive from the Commonwealth are particularly valuable for our communities as they are untied, meaning we can use this funding where it’s most needed.”

“In the lead up to the next Federal Election we’re calling for the value of these grants to be restored to at least 1 percent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue, which is the level they were at in the 1980s.”

“This would support us to maintain the local facilities Australians use every day and preserve them for our kids and future generations to use and enjoy.”

“It would also create more than 16,200 jobs and boost our nation’s Gross Domestic Product by $2.37 billion per year.”

“We’re also calling for a $300 million increase to the Commonwealth’s Roads to Recovery Program so we can continue to replace and renew local roads that are no longer safe or fit for purpose.”

ALGA established the National State of the Assets project in 2012 to improve the performance and management of the infrastructure portfolio owned and operated by Australia’s 537 councils.

The first research was published in 2013, and the 2021 report was produced for ALGA by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA).