No surprises for local government in latest Federal Budget

The Turnbull Government’s 2018/19 Federal Budget has left local government funding untouched with funding in key programs such as Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) and Roads to Recovery (R2R) to continue at current levels.

The Federal Budget also delivered a continuation of the Bridges Renewal Program, the Black Spot Program, the Building Better Regions Fund and Safer Communities Fund.

The Government additionally committed $29.7 million to deliver up to 500 local community sporting infrastructure grants of up to $500,000 to improve community sporting facilities.

President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Mayor David O’Loughlin, welcomed the Government’s commitments but said that it has missed an important opportunity to strengthen its freight measures by failing to address first and last mile connectivity issues.

“The Government’s strong focus on upgrading key freight routes reflects the need to unlock the productive potential of our arterial networks,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

“But we know almost every freight journey starts and ends on a road built, owned and maintained by local government, and with the freight task set to double by 2020, the nation can’t afford to have a substandard local road network and we can’t afford to upgrade it on our own.

“We need a complementary commitment to invest in first and last mile projects for the freight industry to fully realise gains across the arterial road network. Higher productivity vehicles need to be able to operate straight out of the farm or factory gate, not just on the highway.”

Mayor O’Loughlin said that a stronger partnership between the Commonwealth and local government can go a long way towards decreasing the existing inequality across Australian regions and delivering positive outcomes for Australian communities.

“The Government has committed itself to addressing productivity and growth issues but their reduction in investment at the local level flowing from the recent freeze on indexation of FAGs has not been remedied in this budget and needs to be addressed. The Government, and the Opposition, will have the opportunity to do this at the forthcoming election,” Mayor O’Loughlin said.

“It is important that local government’s priorities are addressed to advance the growth potential of both country and metropolitan regions.”