Infrastructure backlog dogging councils

Latest annual National State of the Assets report shows $47 billion of local infrastructure was in “poor condition”.
Latest annual National State of the Assets report shows $47 billion of local infrastructure was in “poor condition”. John Gass

THE Federal Government must invest more to help fix a $47 billion backlog of works on local roads and bridges, local councils will urge today.

A call for funds over and above the Roads to the Recovery package forms part of the Australian Local Government Association's agenda as it meets to discuss infrastructure in Ballarat.

The councils' peak body released its latest annual National State of the Assets report, focused on roads and community infrastructure.

It found $47 billion of local infrastructure was in "poor condition" and needed upgrades, or about 11% of $438 billion of local infrastructure nationwide.

The backlog on local infrastructure included 22% of timber bridges, 19% of unsealed roads and 11% of sealed roads that were in either a "physically unsound" state or "in need of significant rehabilitation.

ALGA president Mayor Troy Pickard said councils were under "immense financial constraints" to manage local infrastructure, as their revenue base continues to fall and spending demands rise.

He said councils needed more help to maintain infrastructure "to a standard that is fit for a more productive economic future".

"Without an integrated plan that connects the national and state network to the local network, opportunities for strategic infrastructure investment and improved productivity will be lost," he said.

"The federal government needs to address this issue."

To deal with it, the report urged a "national infrastructure strategy" be created to help councils maintain and improve existing roads - a problem more difficult for rural and regional councils.

The report showed, as previous reports have, that rural and regional councils continue to struggle to raise enough funds to cover their costs, when compared to urban councils.

To that end, the report also recommended infrastructure funding be distributed more fairly "to address social inequity for communities with geographic disadvantages".

Mr Pickard said while Roads to Recovery funding helped with "basic maintenance" of local roads more needed to be done to ensure safe access for heavy vehicles and to improve freight movement.

Topics:  councils local government roads to recovery

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