Local governments call for $1.2bn in funding ‘to boost freight productivity and infrastructure’

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is seeking a $300 million a year commitment over the next four years in the upcoming Federal Budget to assist councils in improving freight productivity and infrastructure on Australia’s local roads.

ALGA is the national for local government, representing 537 councils across Australia.

It says that although local governments manage around 77 per cent of Australia’s roads by length and play an important role in authorising heavy vehicle access on local roads, councils only collect 3.5 per cent of national taxation and are heavily reliant on funding from other levels of government.

“With additional funding, councils can help support the implementation of the Heavy Vehicle National Law Reforms which have been agreed by transport ministers,” said the ALGA in its pre- 2023/2024 Budget submission.

“The effective implementation of Heavy Vehicle National Law Reforms is vital to increasing Australia’s productivity, and local roads are an integral component of Australia’s freight network.”

The pre-Budget submission points to a Heavy Vehicle Reform Package based on the advice of an independent advisor, Ken Kanofski, which was endorsed by transport ministers in late 2022.

Kanofski recommended a commitment to reducing access permits for restricted access vehicles by 50 per cent in three years and by 90 per cent in five years. “This is achievable through the delivery of a new automated road freight access system for restricted access heavy vehicles, similar to the Heavy Vehicle Access Management System (HVAMS) which has been successfully implemented in Tasmania,” said the submission.

“Local government has an integral role to play in the development and roll-out of this new system, and a new funding program would support councils to prepare for the transition and improve first and last mile infrastructure that will deliver productivity gains.

“This funding will ensure that pavement quality, bridges and culverts can support freight movements by better assessing their capacity, and through pre-approved online permits, without the need for manual assessments, ensuring that freight moves more freely across local road networks, and supporting Australian businesses to grow.”

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