National State of Assets 2021: Why more needs to be done

Two-thirds of all local government assets are in good condition and meet community expectations. Community infrastructure is also lasting longer, while the proportion of infrastructure assets in a poor state of repair has remained relatively constant.

The findings are contained in the 2021 National State of the Assets (NSoA) Report published by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) last week.

The report, prepared for ALGA by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), was based on survey data provided by 454 LGAs (85 percent of all councils).

At the end of the 2019-20 financial year, it was estimated the replacement cost of local government assets (excluding land, plant, and equipment) was $533 billion. This represents an investment of approximately $21,000 for every person in Australia.

These assets were rated on their condition (the value of service quality), function (how fit for purpose they are now and, in the future,) and capacity (degree of utilisation and, whether we need more or less of them).

ALGA’s Director of Transport and Infrastructure Policy, Alexandra Pamment, said the overall 2021 NSoA results are consistent with what was found in 2018.

Despite continued investment, the performance of local government community assets appears to have stabilised.

She said says the 2021 NSoA highlights the gap between what local governments currently spend on community infrastructure assets and what they would need to spend ensuring assets are properly maintained.

“This highlights the importance of continuous improvement in our systems to support our communities for the future – including helping councils invest in asset management training, technology and software enhancements, skills development, and information sharing,” Ms Pamment said.

The report also highlights the state of infrastructure planning:

  • Two-thirds of councils have an asset management plan adopted for their major infrastructure assets;
  • 86 percent of responding councils say they have adopted a long-term financial plan. This is an increase from 72 percent in 2013;
  • Of the 67 percent of councils who say they have asset management plans in place, two-thirds include financial projections from the asset management plan in the financial plan; and
  • Councils in urban areas indicate higher compliance with the legislated asset management and financial planning and reporting requirements than those in lower populated rural regions.

The report was launched by ALGA President Linda Scott at a webinar attended by Federal Assistant Minister for Local Government Kevin Hogan, Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew, National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson, and IPWEA President Myles Lind.

Click here to watch the webinar.

The full technical report and summary are on ALGA’s website.