A big investment in natural disaster response, more road funding, money for transport infrastructure in the cities and the bush and measures to allow the development of key regional economies are the highlights of the 2019 Federal Budget for local councils.
The Local Government Association of Queensland said the Budget went some way to meeting the needs of local communities but councils would continue to push for more investment from Canberra in key areas such as protection of the Great Barrier Reef, indigenous housing and flood mitigation.
Tonight’s Budget confirmed a $100 billion infrastructure spend over the next 10 years, including the Government’s announcement last week of $2.2 billion road safety package, which contains an extra $1.1 billion in funding over 10 years for local governments under the Roads to Recovery program and another $550 million in Black Spot funding, which targets known high-risk locations.
In another welcome boost to transport infrastructure, the Budget also confirmed an additional $1 billion is being provided for the next phase of the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative to help upgrade key freight routes.
The Budget contained a $3 billion increase in the Urban Congestion Fund, including $500 million for a new Commuter Car Park Fund.
The Government is also creating a new $3.9 billion Emergency Response Fund to respond to future natural disasters beyond existing state and federal programs.
In addition, the Budget announced $104 million for a new National Partnership Agreement to support states and territories in reducing disaster risks.
The Government is also continuing investment in key regional programs such as the Building Better Regions Fund and investing $100 million in upgrading regional airports.
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said it was fitting that the needs of local communities featured prominently in tonight’s Budget announcements.
“Local councils are significant drivers of regional economies, builders of valuable infrastructure and major employers in the regions,” he said.
“Investing in council priorities means investing in the interests of local communities and unlocking the potential of regional Australia.”
“That is the message local councils will be pursuing right up to the federal election as we continue to push for untied grants to local government to be boosted to at least 1 percent of total Commonwealth tax revenue.”