The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed the Albanese Government’s delivery of an additional $250 million through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program, while calling on the Government to reinstate the former model that saw funding provided to all Australian councils.
Established in 2020, the LRCI program has been successful in providing much-needed funding for local infrastructure projects, including libraries, community sporting fields, parks and playgrounds for all Australian councils.
As part of Phase 4 of LRCI allocations announced today, funding has been restricted to rural, regional and outer-metro councils, and community infrastructure projects will not be eligible.
ALGA President Councillor Linda Scott said the Government’s decision to restrict the funding to regional council roads was disappointing and could limit the ability of local governments to invest in other important infrastructure projects.
“Local libraries and sporting fields matter to communities, alongside local roads,” Cr Scott said.
“Local governments are best placed to identify the locally-led infrastructure priorities in our communities and we urge the Government to reinstate the former funding model to ensure all councils – big and small – can access the funds we need to deliver important infrastructure projects.
“While we welcome the additional funding for regional council roads, dotted with pothole craters from recent storms and floods, we believe that local governments should have the flexibility to fund infrastructure programs that meet the unique needs of our communities.
“ALGA’s 2021 National State of the Assets report shows that $9.2 billion worth of our buildings and facilities – including our libraries, community halls, arts and cultural facilities and recreation centres – are in poor condition and need to be fixed or upgraded.
“Diverting money from community infrastructure to road projects is selling our communities short. We need new and increased investment in our local roads, which is why we’re calling for Roads to Recovery funding to be increased from $500 million to $800 million per year.
“ALGA is also advocating for the LRCI program to be made permanent at $500 million a year in the upcoming Budget, which would be an investment in the wellbeing, resilience and productivity of our communities.”