It was encouraging to see our call for the extension of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program rewarded in last week’s Federal Budget, with a two-year $500 million extension.
This program has supported councils to deliver nearly 7,900 projects, created an estimated 9,000 jobs, and helped shield our economy through the worst of the COVID downturn.
However, we will continue to advocate for a four-year $500 million extension for this program that would create 4,000 jobs across the country.
While Financial Assistance Grants to be paid to councils rose slightly, they actually fell as a share of Commonwealth taxation revenue, from 0.6 percent in 2021-22 to 0.55 percent next year.
In the 1990s these grants were equivalent to 1 percent of total national taxation, and we need to reverse this slide.
Restoring Financial Assistance Grants to 1 percent would provide a $2.3 billion boost for our communities, resulting in more libraries, skate parks, community centres, bike paths and playgrounds.
The Budget also confirmed that spending on flood recovery will climb to $6 billion over the next four years, but much-needed funding for disaster mitigation was missing.
The Opposition has committed to establishing a $200 million per year mitigation program if elected, and we are continuing to push for a matching commitment from the Coalition.
There is a strong chance we will see the Federal Election called this weekend, with polling day likely to be 21 May, the last possible date for a standard election.
That leaves us just six weeks to engage with federal parties, MPs and candidates to secure the funding and support we need to build stronger, healthier, more prosperous and resilient communities.
It’s not too late to get involved and tell your local member and candidates what your council could do with increased federal support.
This year’s National General Assembly has been generating enormous interest, with more than 220 motions submitted by councils for debate.
This year’s event will also be our first opportunity to explore new partnerships with a newly minted government – another compelling reason to register as a delegate.
Please take a look at our registration brochure, and I hope to see you there.