23 April 2019
The Federal Election is now in full swing. Federal Budgets are one measure of how well the Government is looking after our regions.
Although there were modest announcements across the entirety for Australian Local Governments, the question is how will this translate to the South Burnett?
The Federal Budget included an increase in next year’s base funding for the Roads to Recovery program from $400M per annum to $500M per annum from 2019-20. Council received $1,454,458 this financial year from Roads to Recovery. In addition, Roads Safety Federal Blackspots and Bridges Renewal programs achieve additional injections of funds. This additional infrastructure funding is essential and although well short of what is needed, it is always welcomed.
Additionally, there is an allocation of $6M in funding for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to assist councils by funding engineering assessments for Local Government roads. Local Government is responsible for 75% of our road network, more than 650,000 kms in length. We just cannot maintain this large asset with only 3.6% of the nation’s tax revenue.
The big disappointment with the budget is its failure to address this fundamental mismatch of revenue and responsibility.
The Federal Coalition Government did not respond to the Australian Local Government of Australia’s call to restore FAGs (Federal Assistance Grants) to 1% of national tax revenue given that it has now fallen to just 0.55%. Regrettably, neither has the Labor Opposition given support for this increased funding. The restoration of this funding would make a huge difference to the South Burnett. Nevertheless, we intend to continue to support our National and State peak bodies to continue our discussions with the Government and the Opposition regarding restoring a fairer share of the taxation revenue for all local communities in Australia.
It is a matter that we continue to lobby both sides of politics. I would encourage everybody to speak to their local candidates about this matter. It is critically important to help carry the huge financial load that Local Government is expected to deliver. The alternative is that pressure will continue on rate increases.