Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has backed a new report by the Grattan Institute detailing the dire state of roads in rural and regional Australia. The report highlights that there is not enough funding in the system and calls on the Federal Government to invest at least $1 billion annually to meet the road maintenance shortfall.
The report details that under-spend on road maintenance is much greater in regional areas, with too much funding being diverted to ‘self-sufficient’ councils with substantial revenue bases.
“I back the findings of this report. It is no surprise to me, nor to people in my electorate of Indi, that the state of roads in regional and rural areas is woeful,” Dr Haines said.
“From the Upper Murray to Murrindindi, roads across the North East are full of potholes. There are lanes closed due to erosion and reduced speed limits because the existing limit is no longer safe.
“The Melba Highway is notoriously bad. A farmer from Glenburn contacted me recently to tell me he had snapped a trailer axle on a half-metre deep pothole on a blind bend on the Melba. It is unacceptable that our roads have deteriorated to a point that they are now unsafe.
“The unacceptable state of country roads burdens our regional communities. Road users are rightly upset and frustrated because they know that road surface defects increase the risk of crashes, particularly in wet conditions.”
Dr Haines has previously called on the Federal Government to increase funding to local councils to assist with regional road maintenance, pushing for a long-term focus at how to build better roads in the face of climate change and severe weather events.
“Last year’s spring flooding significantly impacted our roads, and deterioration will continue as extreme weather events batter our communities,” Dr Haines said.
“As a member of the Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport, I brought the committee to Indi to ensure our regional communities were given the chance to speak out about the state of our local roads.”
The Grattan Institute report also revealed that many councils lack the data, staff and technology to properly maintain roads.
“While billions of federal funding goes towards building mega projects and cutting ribbons in capital cities, regional communities are having their bones rattled on dangerous local roads.
“Regional councils have limited scope to raise adequate revenue for road maintenance and need bettersupport from federal and state governments to manage the vast road networks under their care.
“The longer the Federal Government kicks this can down the potholed road, the more expensive this problem will become.”
For more information on the Grattan Institute’s Report, please visit their website.