Local governments: Continuing local infrastructure funding in Federal Budget key to cost-of-living pressures

Strong advocacy from the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and Australia’s 537 councils has delivered a $500 million extension of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program in tonight’s 2022-23 Federal Budget.

ALGA President Linda Scott said this extension would help councils deliver more libraries, sporting facilities, community centres, bike paths and playgrounds in their local communities, providing free and low-cost activities and delivering cost-of-living savings for all Australians.

“Over the past two years councils have worked with the Commonwealth to deliver thousands of new local projects through this program,” Cr Scott said.

“Working with the Commonwealth, local governments have made our cities and regions better places to live and work, and created thousands of new jobs in a tough economic climate.”

“Local governments appreciate any funding, but it will be critical for whomever forms the next Commonwealth Government to increase Local Roads and Community Infrastructure funding that will help us to roll out new projects across our nation.”

Other funding for local councils and communities announced in tonight’s Federal Budget included:

  • $2.8 billion in untied Financial Assistance Grants for councils (with $2.1 billion to be paid in 2021-22);
  • $491 million in Roads to Recovery Funding;
  • $131 million for the Bridges Renewal Program; and
  • $812 million over five years for expanding digital mobile coverage in regional Australia.

Cr Scott also thanked the Government for responding to ALGA’s call for disaster funding, with Budget announcements including:

  • $150 million in new funding from the Emergency Response Fund for recovery and post-disaster resilience in the Northern Rivers region of NSW;
  • $2 billion in support for flood-impacted NSW and Queensland primary producers, small businesses, not for profits, and councils; and
  • A further $3 billion for disaster recovery in forward estimates.

“The Government has yet again skipped the need to invest in disaster prevention, and this will cost Australians and our communities more in the face of more frequent and severe natural disasters.”

While acknowledging the Budget’s strong focus on providing immediate and temporary cost-of-living relief, Cr Scott said increased funding to local government is needed to provide longer-lasting benefits.

“There’s no doubt that many in our communities are struggling with rising fuel and grocery prices as well as a shortage of affordable accommodation,” Cr Scott said.

“However, increased funding for local government will deliver long-term benefits for every community that will outlast once-off cash payments and temporary fuel excise cuts.”

“Providing councils with increased Financial Assistance Grants will create thousands of new jobs across our country.”

“Supporting local governments to invest in innovative housing solutions will help address the affordable housing crisis we’re seeing in our cities and regions.”

“Working with councils to cut local greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the rubbish we send to landfills and turn our rubbish into new products will help our environment and drive economic development.”

“With more support councils could deliver safer roads and address local congestion, unlocking the productivity of our national freight network.”

“Funding councils to build more libraries, playgrounds and recreation centres will reduce petrol costs for families, and improve our health and wellbeing,” Cr Scott said

“With the election now just weeks away, Australia’s 537 councils are calling on all federal election candidates to commit to a stronger partnership between our Commonwealth and our local governments to ensure no community is left behind,” she added.