Three peak bodies representing farmers and transporters have raised concerns about the lack of sufficient additional funding in the Federal Budget to address the perilous state of flood impacted rural roads.
In the lead up to the Budget, GrainGrowers, National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) called for an emergency funding package of nearly $5.5 billion, a call the Government answered with just $250 million in new funding.
“Given the scale of the damage facing regional Australia, the road funding announced last night was a drop in the ocean in terms of what’s needed,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
GrainGrowers Chair Rhys Turton added: “While we appreciate the financial constraints facing the Government, the current state of the roads is driving up inflation and putting regional drivers at risk.”
One of the key concerns was the lack of additional funding for the Roads to Recovery program which supports the construction and maintenance of the nation’s local road infrastructure assets, representing 87% of the nation’s road network.
“This budget increases heavy vehicle charges by $742m over three years while returning just $250m in new road funding. It is a backwards step likely to fuel inflation and hinder freight productivity for years to come,” ALRTA Executive Director Mathew Munro said.
With the 90-day review into the Infrastructure Investment Program underway, the organisations reiterated the importance of regional infrastructure.
“Rural roads must not be left behind in Australia’s $120 billion infrastructure investment pipeline,” added Mr Turton.
“We invite those making budget decisions in Canberra to come and drive these roads so they can see just what state they’re in,” concluded Mr Mahar.