AusLink – a National Land Transport Plan
A new framework for national land transport infrastructure planning and funding was announced recently by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson. AusLink aims to introduce a longer term, integrated approach to land transport planning and funding, replacing separate arrangements for road and rail. To date, there has been an absence of a national strategic approach to an integrated road and rail network.
Road infrastructure funding responsibilities for Commonwealth, State/Territory and Local Government were established through the 1991 Inter-Governmental Road Funding Agreement. Under the Agreement the Commonwealth has full responsibility for the National Highway System, the State and Territory Governments focus on arterial roads; and Local Government concentrate on local roads.
The Commonwealth currently assists the States and Territories by jointly funding Roads of National Importance, and assists Local Governments through untied Local Roads Grants and the Roads to Recovery Programme. Forty per cent of Commonwealth road funding is directed to Local Government and the Commonwealth provides around 25 per cent of total public road expenditure.
AusLink is aimed at ensuring that the national land transport network will meet the challenges ahead. It aims to deliver more strategic spending of Commonwealth transport funding, greater opportunities for private sector involvement and a better deal for infrastructure investment in metropolitan and regional Australia.
At the Australian Transport Council meeting on 8 August 2002, held in Auckland, New Zealand, Transport Ministers for the Commonwealth, States and Territories issued a joint communique saying they had agreed to move forward collaboratively to develop a national land infrastructure plan and a Green Paper. It was also agreed that the Commonwealth would convene a meeting at the earliest opportunity with representatives of the State, Territory and Local Governments, the Australian Logistics Council and the National Transport Secretariat for consultation prior to the development and release of the Green Paper.