$5.5 billion needed for regional roads in federal budget, says alliance

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The newly-formed Rural Roads Alliance has reiterated its call for an emergency funding package totally nearly $5.5 billion in next week’s federal budget.

The Alliance includes GrainGrowers, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA).

Speaking at the parliamentary inquiry into the implications of severe weather events on the national regional, rural, and remote road network, ALRTA executive director Mat Munro said that urgent new funding was needed right across the rural road network.

The alliance also hopes that the government’s review of infrastructure spending will not lessen rural road funding.

“Severely damaged roads are dramatically increasing the time and cost of moving freight to and from our rural production centres,” said Munro.

“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.”

Rob Anspach, representing the Livestock and Rural Transport Association of Western Australia, spoke about problems in road construction.

“Road construction material standards differ across Australia and many engineers and contractors don’t know how to use local materials. Bitumen standards are also suffering to meet environmental goals. Roads built to minimum standards at lowest cost require constant maintenance and cost more over the longer term,” he 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.

In the lead up to the May 9 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.

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