Road net­works need state help

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Vic­to­ria’s mu­nic­i­pal peak body be­lieves 2017 lo­cal govern­ment com­mu­nity sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey re­sults re­in­force a need for greater State Govern­ment sup­port to help coun­cils main­tain and up­grade road net­works.

Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria pres­i­dent Mary Lalios said sur­vey re­sults showed a cor­re­la­tion be­tween high-per­for­mance scores where the state was in­vest­ing in mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture.

The re­sults also showed a de­cline in coun­cil per­for­mance scores where the state had with­drawn in­vest­ment.

“Metropoli­tan coun­cils scored higher over­all in the sur­vey re­sults than ru­ral and re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” Cr Lalios said.

“In par­tic­u­lar, in­ter­face coun­cils have re­ceived higher over­all per­for­mance scores from res­i­dents, buoyed by strong state in­vest­ment in lo­cal com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture needed in growth ar­eas.

“How­ever, state fund­ing for ru­ral lo­cal roads con­cluded in 2015, along with a ded­i­cated state fund­ing pro­gram for ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture.

“This loss of $360-mil­lion over four years has been a dev­as­tat­ing blow to ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.”

Lo­cal govern­ment main­tains 129,735 kilo­me­tres of Vic­to­ria’s roads, rep­re­sent­ing 85 per­cent of the state’s road net­work, and 10,500 bridges and cul­verts.

Ma­jor­ity are in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas, with coun­cils spend­ing about $885-mil­lion on roads and bridges in 2014-15.

Cr Lalios said main­tain­ing road net­works was a con­stant chal­lenge fac­ing coun­cils.

“It’s a mas­sive fund­ing obli­ga­tion that is sim­ply be­yond the means of many ru­ral shires given their small ratepayer base, de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tions and lengthy road net­work,” she said.

“Ru­ral coun­cils lack the ca­pac­ity to in­vest more rev­enue into clos­ing the as­set re­newal gap, which means their lo­cal roads are de­clin­ing faster than they can be main­tained or up­graded.

“With­out ad­dress­ing the back­log in road main­te­nance, there could be se­ri­ous con­se­quences for fu­ture road safety and Vic­to­ria’s eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness.

“Ten per­cent of the Port of Mel­bourne lease – worth $970-mil­lion – was com­mit­ted by the state for rein­vest­ment back into ru­ral and re­gional Vic­to­ria.

“We re­new our calls for the govern­ment to al­lo­cate fund­ing from this com­mit­ment to ru­ral lo­cal roads.”

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