A range of Federal Budget funding announcements will help NSW councils, including Central Coast council, drive a locally-led economic recovery– but there is still more to do, says Local Government NSW (LGNSW).
President Linda Scott said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was writ large on the Federal Budget handed down on October 6 by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“The economic devastation wreaked by drought, floods, bushfires and COVID has hit all levels of Government, including councils,” Scott said.
“Councils provide a vast range of community infrastructure and services and are ready to drive a locally-led recovery which creates local jobs and keeps money flowing through local economies.
“It would have been great to see a boost in Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) beyond the $1.24B allocated, to support this process.
“But local government recognises the pressure on federal funds and there is still a lot in the Budget that will directly benefit councils and the communities they serve.”
Scott said of particular significance were a range of road and local infrastructure packages.
The Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program will deliver an extra $1B over two years, taking total funding of this initiative to $1.5B.
The National Road Safety Program saw a $2B commitment over two years to improve safety conditions on roads.
Infrastructure Investment NSW saw $2.7B from 2020-21 for priority road and rail projects in NSW to support economic recovery and jobs, of which the Central Coast receives an additional $16.7M for the region’s roads package.
The budget also saw $137M committed to the Black Spot program and $89.7M for the Bridges Renewal Program.
More than $590M was committed to the Roads to Recovery program for national roads maintenance.
“NSW councils manage and maintain 90 per cent of the State’s roads, so this funding is lifeblood for them, while the investment in community infrastructure recognises the critical role played by councils in keeping local workers in jobs,” Scott said.
She also welcomed the $190M Recycling Modernisation Fund – designed to complement state funding for new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture waste.
“Building a circular economy with homegrown waste solutions is a critical component of LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign, and I would urge the NSW Government to come to the party through the use of the $800M Waste Levy collected each year,” she said.
Scott said councils would also benefit from an additional $300M in funding for the Building Better Regions Fund, $100M to support long-term drought resilience for councils and $1.6B over four years for an additional 23,000 home care packages.
“More than half of NSW’s councils deliver aged care services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, so these additional packages are certainly a good start,” she said.
Scott said the Budget was another step towards recovery, with further progress expected in the NSW State Budget next month.
“There is no quick fix – economic recovery will be an ongoing process, and each tier of government is working hard to play its part,” she said.
“LGNSW is committed to supporting councils so they can do what they do best: lead their local communities in a desperately needed financial recovery.”
Media release, Oct 6
Local Government NSW