Budget helps councils drive a locally led recovery

A range of Federal Budget funding announcements will help NSW councils drive a locally led economic recovery – but there is still more to do, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was writ large on the Federal Budget handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

“The economic devastation wreaked by drought, floods, bushfires and COVID has hit all levels of Government, including councils,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils provide a vast range of community infrastructure and services, and are ready to drive a locally led recovery which creates local jobs and keeps money flowing through local economies.

“It would have been great to see a boost in Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) beyond the $1.24 billion allocated, to support this process.

“But local government recognises the pressure on federal funds and there is still a lot in the Budget that will directly benefit councils and the communities they serve.”

Key among the announcements were a range of road and local infrastructure packages, including:

  • Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program – $1 billion over two years, taking total funding of this initiative to $1.5 billion.
  • National Road Safety Program – a $2 billion commitment over two years to improve safety conditions on roads.
  • Infrastructure Investment NSW – $2.7 billion from 2020-21 for priority road and rail projects in NSW to support economic recovery and jobs, increasing the Government’s total commitment to transport infrastructure in NSW to over $39 billion.
  • Black Spot Program – $137 million to improve the safety of road sites that have been identified as high-risk areas for serious crashes.
  • Bridges Renewal Program – $89.7 million to replace or upgrade bridges across the nation.
  • Roads to Recovery – more than $590 million for national roads maintenance, an increase of more than $90 million from 2019-20.

“NSW councils manage and maintain 90% of the state’s roads, so this funding is lifeblood for them, while the investment in community infrastructure recognises the critical role played by councils in keeping local workers in job,” she said.

Cr Scott also welcomed the announcement of $190 million to kickstart the Recycling Modernisation Fund – designed to complement state funding for new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture waste.

“Building a circular economy with homegrown waste solutions is a critical component of LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign, and I would urge the NSW Government to come to the party through the use of the $800 million Waste Levy collected each year,” she said.

Other positive initiatives included:

  • Building Better Regions Fund – an additional $200 million funding, including $100 million dedicated for tourism infrastructure
  • Resilience funding – $100 million in 2020-21 to support the long-term drought resilience of local governments
  • Commonwealth Home Support Program – $1.6 billion over four years for an additional 23,000 home care packages.

“More than half of NSW’s councils deliver aged care services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, so these additional packages are certainly a good start,” she said.

Cr Scott said Tuesday’s federal Budget was another step towards recovery, with further progress expected in the NSW State Budget next month.

“There is no quick fix – economic recovery will be an ongoing process, and each tier of government is working hard to play its part,” she said.

“LGNSW is committed to supporting councils so they can do what they do best: lead their local communities in a desperately needed financial recovery.”

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