The Budget offers part payment for Local Government

Article image - The Budget offers part payment for Local Government

The Morrison Government’s 2019/20 Federal Budget, announced yesterday, falls well short of restoring Local Government’s Financial Assistance Grants (FAGS) to the 1percent of total revenue asked for by the sector.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President, Mayor David O’Loughlin, however, said it does make good progress in addressing some of the infrastructure issues facing councils.

The Budget includes an increase in next year’s base funding for the Roads to Recovery program from $400m to $500m, and also sees increases in the annual funding for the Roads Safety Federal Blackspots and the Bridges Renewal programs of $50m and $25m respectively.

Regional Airports also benefit with a $100m package over four years to assist with essential capital works. Councils will also be eligible to apply for funding from a package of $190m over four years for upgrading community sports facilities and accommodating female change rooms.

Mayor O’Loughlin, said, “The additional infrastructure funding in this Budget is essential and although well short of what we requested is strongly welcomed. It will allow councils to make some progress in addressing our infrastructure backlog which has been put at around $30 billion with almost 10percent of local roads and bridges in poor or very poor condition.

“The increase in funding for local roads may also help to address some of the urgent access problems heavy freight vehicles have on local roads which were not built to take today’s high productivity heavy vehicles. There is an allocation of $6million in funding for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to assist councils by funding engineering assessments for local government roads.”

But this falls well short of ALGA’s request for a dedicated freight investment program of $200m per annum.

Local government is responsible for 75percent of our road network, more than 650,000 km in length, and cannot maintain this asset with just 3.6percent of the nation’s tax revenue.”

“This Budget fails to address this fundamental mismatch of revenue and responsibility. It does not respond to ALGA’s call to restore FAGs to 1percent of national tax revenue given that it has now fallen to just 0.55percent.

“The Budget also fails to restore the reductions in local government grants made in the 2014-15 Budget and more generally falls well short of ALGA’s requests across our Budget priority areas.

“Nevertheless, the increases announced while modest are a step in the right direction and we intend to continue our discussions with the Government and the Opposition regarding restoring a fairer share of taxation revenue to our local communities.”