Roads and Infrastructure Funding

The ALGA 2020-23 Strategic Plan identifies roads and infrastructure funding as a strategic priority.

At the end of the 2019-20 financial year local government had control of an $523bn asset portfolio.[1]

The non-financial (infrastructure) component was valued at $342bn (65%), land accounted for $127bn (24%) and the remaining $54bn (11%) was attributed to other non-financial assets such as plant and equipment and financial assets such as cash, investments, and equity in other entities.

Local government infrastructure assets include local roads, stormwater drainage and community assets such as sporting, arts and cultural facilities, parks and gardens, and public libraries. These public assets contribute to national productivity and are critical for ensuring our cities and regions are great places to live, work and play.

The estimated replacement cost of these infrastructure assets is in the order of $533bn representing an investment of approximately $21,000 for each of the 25.8 million people in Australia.[2][3]

Maintenance of infrastructure remains a fundamental challenge for the local government sector. Of the three levels of government, local government has the largest relative infrastructure task in terms of asset management and the smallest relative revenue base collecting just over 3% of Australia’s total taxation revenue.

Local Governments have responsibilities for funding, planning, constructing, operating, and maintaining the road network in their local areas.  The local road network is critical for getting people and products door to door.  Most journeys start and end on a local road.

Locally controlled roads account for approximately 77% of total road length in Australia, or 678,000 kilometres[4] and could circle the earth 16.5 times.  The National Transport Commission estimates 36% of all kilometres travelled in Australia are on local roads.

Local Governments, through their provision of community infrastructure and services such as libraries, pools, arts and culture facilities, parks and sportsgrounds play a significant role in ensuring the livability, sustainability, wellbeing and quality of life of local communities.  ALGA’s 2021 State of the Assets report concluded that 10% of this infrastructure is in poor to very poor condition, despite the sector’s intensive focus in recent years on strategic asset management.

ALGA strongly supports the national focus on improved productivity and safety through investment in infrastructure. There is a need to unlock local and regional productivity improvements through investment that improves access for freight vehicles and connectivity between local roads and preferred state and national freight routes.

Local governments are committed to working in partnership with the Australian and state and territory governments to improve road safety. Fifty two percent of all casualty crashes and 40% of all road deaths occur in local roads.

Local government needs access to a dedicated grant funding programs to provide improved community infrastructure and to effectively play its role in the delivery of a national transport network fit for purpose capable of supporting growth and national productivity.

ALGAs policy priorities are:

  • Financial assistance to address the infrastructure funding shortfall include an increase in Roads to Recovery funding to $800 million per annum, permanency of the Bridges Renewal Program and targeted funding for stormwater, water, and sewerage infrastructure.
  • Significant expansion of the Road Safety Black Spot program.
  • Establishment of a mass road safety treatment infrastructure program.
  • A community infrastructure program for all councils.
  • A continued and expanded telecommunications blackspots program and regional connectivity program
  • Disaster resilient safe and reliable communications systems across the nation.
[1] 2019-20, ABS cat. no. 5512.0, TABLE 339, Total Local General Government Balance Sheet – Total Assets.
[2] The cost to replace the existing infrastructure assets with a new modern equivalent asset (not a second hand one) with the same economic benefits (ALGA, NSoA21 Report).
[3] ABS cat. no. 3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2020, TABLE 4. Estimated Resident Population, States and Territories (Number).
[4] National Local Roads Data System, ALGA.