The newly-formed Rural Roads Alliance has given evidence to a parliamentary inquiry today, reiterating its call for an emergency funding package totalling nearly $5.5 billion in next week’s Federal Budget.
The latest call comes as the Government commits to a review of infrastructure spending – a process the Alliance hopes will not lessen rural road funding.
Appearing before the House of Representatives Standing Committee this morning, NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar warned that the current situation for rural road users is dire.
“Severely damaged roads are dramatically increasing the time and cost of moving freight to and from our rural production centres.
“It’s holding back development of our regional communities and undermining safety and welfare for all users of country roads,” Mr Mahar said.
The Alliance – which represents diverse stakeholders from across regional Australia including farmers, transporters and local councils – was formed in response to the critical challenges facing Australia’s rural road network in the wake of flooding and high rainfall.
The Alliance includes GrainGrowers, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA).
In the lead up to the Federal Budget, the Rural Roads Alliance is calling for an emergency funding package totalling nearly $5.5 billion, including:
- A one-off injection of $1 billion over four years directed at regional road and infrastructure reconstruction for councils impacted by flooding and other natural disasters to ensure the rebuild is to a standard more resilient to future disaster events;
- $800 million a year over four years for the Roads to Recovery Program;
- $300 million a year over four years to address first and last mile freight productivity; and,
- targeted funding through the Roads of Strategic Importance program to improve the long-term climate resilience of freight networks.
GrainGrowers Chair Rhys Turton said the funding would be a smart investment in the future of our regions.
“This funding package is an opportunity for the Federal Government to stem the rapid deterioration of Australia’s rural road network, and to reduce the cost to the budget of future climate events.”
Executive Director of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, Mathew Munro, spoke to the impact on his members.
“It’s harder on our vehicles, it’s harder on our drivers, and it’s harder on our livestock. At the end of the day it’s a basic safety issue that needs to be addressed,” Mr Munro said.