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Fifteen Councils Added to Drought Communities Program

A $15 million extension has been added to the Drought Communities Program, with 15 additional councils now eligible to apply for funding under the program.

Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Bridget McKenzie said the extension brought the total funding for drought relief projects in the worst-affected local government areas to $96 million.

“We have identified which local government areas across Australia are the most drought-affected, taking into account Bureau of Meteorology data and the proportion of the workforce employed in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector to assess the impact of drought in the region,” Minister McKenzie said.

“As a result of this review, 15 more councils were identified to be heavily drought affected, taking the total number of councils eligible for this program from 81 to 96. Minister McKenzie said the newly eligible councils span across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

“These councils will have until the end of 2019 to apply for and complete their projects,” she said.

“We know that drought is felt as hard on the main street as it is in the back paddock which is why our drought response is designed to help farmers as well as the towns and communities that surround them”.

“This funding targets some of the worst hit areas, making it possible for councils to implement important infrastructure projects and other drought-relief activities.”

Funding has been used for a wide variety of projects that assist farmers and residents such as the Bollon Town Common Fencing Upgrade, which will renew fences for better management of stock close to main roads in the Balonne Shire, and the Unsealed Road Infrastructure Upgrade, which will install water filling stations closer to farmers and upgrading cattle grids in the Tamworth Shire. Becoming eligible for the DCP Extension also enables farmers, farm workers and suppliers/contractors to apply for the Drought Community Support Initiative (DCSI).

The DCSI provides up to $3,000 per eligible drought-affected household. Arrangements are being finalised to ensure this valuable support can become available as soon as possible through providers including St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army.

Further information on the program and a list of eligible councils is available at https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/drought-communities-programme

Road Safety Funding Boost

The Government has announced a boost to road safety funding for Local Governments will be include in next Tuesday Budget. In total the Morrison Government will deliver an additional $2.2 billion for road safety over the coming ten years. The announcement will include:

  • An additional $1.1 billion in funding for local governments under the Roads to Recovery program, which allows investment in road safety infrastructure in regional Australia.
  • An extra $550 million for the successful Black Spot Program, which targets known high‐risk locations and reduces serious crashes by 30 per cent, on average.
  • A further $571.1 million to improve the safety and efficiency of heavy vehicle operations through the Bridges Renewal Program, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiatives (HVSI).

A new Office of Road Safety will also be established to provide a national point for collaboration and leadership on key road safety priorities. The Office of Road Safety will work closely with states, territories, local government and key road safety stakeholders.

The measures also include a new $12 million Road Safety Innovation Fund to support research and development in priority areas such as regional road safety, driver distraction from mobile devices, protecting vulnerable road users and reducing drug driving.

The additional funding announced today builds on the Australian Government’s current investment of around $2.6 billion in safety‐enhancing projects, bringing the total investment to $3.1 billion per year over the period 2019–20 to 2022–23.

ALGA is working with the Deputy Prime Ministers Office to break down as much as possible what this announcement means for individual councils.