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Labor announces pledge to ramp up funding on regional roads

The Albanese Government will ramp up its spending over the next decade to patch up small country roads that have fallen into disrepair amid extreme weather events due to climate change.

Roads to Recovery funding will soon double to $1bn a year and the government will spend an extra $40m each year on Black Spot funding.

The funding increases will be phased in over the forward estimates to avoid putting pressure on inflation, supply costs and the construction labour market, the government says.

In the 12 months to October, 1247 people had died on Australia’s roads – a 6.5 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Catherine King said the additional investment in the Commonwealth’s two “cornerstone local roads investment programs” would lead to “safer and more productive roads across Australia”.
“Big roads and metropolitan highways might get a lot of the attention, but we spend most of our driving lives on local roads around where we live and where we work,” she said.

“Regional road networks have been battered by severe weather events over the last few years. This funding will help councils to fix and maintain our roads.

“This funding increase will give councils certainty and the ability to plan, along with a reduction in the administrative burden.”

Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain said local councils had their local road network at the top of the agenda.
“We’ve listened and will inject more money where it counts – making it easier for local councils to access the support they need to progress their priority road projects,” she said.

“This will make a huge difference for councils outside of our big cities in particular – which have significant and ageing road networks under more demand than ever, as people flock to our regions.

“When all levels of government work together, we get better results in our communities, which is why we’ll continue to collaborate with local leaders across the country as we roll out this additional support.”
The boost, to overwhelmingly benefit regional local councils, comes after the government made major changes to its infrastructure programs this week.

Ms King came under fire from states this week after announcing the government’s response to a review into the $120bn infrastructure pipeline.

The government has cancelled funding for 50 projects.

Ms King said the previous Coalition government should bear the brunt of the blame, chastising them for their lack of proper planning and costings.

She maintained the cuts were necessary to ensure the viability of 400 projects set to be delivered in the next decade.

“It is clear that the previous government deliberately set about announcing projects that did not have enough funding, and they knew could not be delivered,“ she said.

“It can only be described, frankly, as economic vandalism.”


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