Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has welcomed additional funding being directed to local road maintenance following the Australian Government’s announced increases to two key local roads investment programs.
Funding for the Roads to Recovery program will rise gradually from $500 million to $1 billion per year, while the Black Spot program funding will increase from $110 million to $150 million per year.
“I’ve long called for increased funding for councils to maintain local roads. While I welcome the Government’s announcement, I want to see this funding hit the ground as soon as possible,” said Dr Haines.
“Regional and rural roads across the North East have been battered by severe weather events resulting in dangerous potholes and lane closures. These roads are disintegrating before our eyes and need to be prioritised.
“Regional and rural communities spend most of their time on local roads, and we deserve to feel safe using these roads to get to and from home, work and school.”
In Question Time on Thursday, Dr Haines called on the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King to explain how the Government was going to improve the ‘dire’ state of regional and rural roads.
“I wanted to know what the Government was going to do to improve the state of regional and rural roads following the axeing of road infrastructure projects such as the McKoy Street overpass and the Rutherglen Heavy Vehicle alternative route,” Dr Haines said.
“Everyone who uses our local roads understands the problems we face in regional Victoria. Right across my electorate, dangerous roads and potholes are the leading issue people tell me about.
“As a member of the parliamentary committee investigating the impact of severe weather events on regional and rural roads, I worked hard to ensure our region had its voice heard, and the committee members understood the experiences of local road users.”
The increases in funding, announced on Sunday, will be phased in over four years with the Government committing to working with local council stakeholders in the lead-up to the Federal Budget in May 2024.
“The Minister says funding will be provided to local councils for road maintenance based on population, road distance and how damaged the roads are. We know that regional and rural councils are responsible for extensive road networks yet have smaller ratepayer bases than big cities from which to raise revenue,” Dr Haines said.
“I will be working to ensure our local councils get a fair and adequate share of this road funding, and that they’re not given short shrift in favour of larger, wealthier city councils.”
Watch Dr Haines’ question to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government here.