The Federal Budget has set aside an additional $1 billion to flow through local councils in a bid to create jobs through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program.
This builds on the existing $500 million commitment made in May for LRCI which has already seen more than 1800 projects approved for funding nation-wide.
Other funding commitments re-affirmed include money for the Financial Assistance Grants program, Roads to Recovery funding and the Drought Communities Program Extension.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Budget confirmed the Liberal and Nationals Government’s commitment to partnering with the local government sector to rebuild the economy.
“Local governments employ around 194,000 people and deliver a wide range of services in the cities, regional towns and remote areas of Australia – that’s why we’re backing local government to help map the economic road back,” he said.
“Our community-led recovery plan empowers local governments to deliver roads and community infrastructure through investment in shovel-ready projects.
“By investing this extra $1 billion in local priorities under the LRCI Program, we are helping to deliver thousands of local jobs and supporting local businesses.”
The longstanding Financial Assistance Grant program has a record allocation of $2.6 billion, and regional councils are also encouraged to take advantage of a $200 million injection into the Building Better Regions Fund.
An extra $400 million of funding will support the extension of the Roads to Recovery Program by an additional year.
Local Government Association of Queensland President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson welcomed the $1 billion boost to the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCIP) over two years.
Queensland councils are expected to share in more than $200 million in extra funding over two years under this program, in addition to the more than $101 million in LRCIP funding they received when the program was first announced in May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cr Jamieson said councils would also benefit from funding through programs like Roads to Recovery, Bridges Renewal, Building Better Regions, Regional Recovery Partnerships, the Regional Connectivity program and the Transforming Australia’s Waste and Recycling Industry initiative.
“Local government can also access funding under a $1.2 billion Commonwealth program designed to fund 100,000 new apprentices,” he said.
“Queensland councils are able to offer training across more than 240 occupational areas. Allowing local government to access this funding means more opportunities for young people to find work in their local community.
“Programs like the Commonwealth’s Drought Communities Program Extension have proven that councils are best placed to ensure stimulus funding is delivered where it is needed most in their communities in order to deliver the best outcome for local economies.
“We are grateful to see this work acknowledged with the creation of further partnerships with the Commonwealth through initiatives like the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.”
Cr Jamieson said councils remained disappointed, however, with the lack of a significant increase to Financial Assistance Grants.
“The Federal Government must ensure extra FAGs funding flows in future years, so the economic sustainability of councils and their communities is maintained,” he said.
Cr Jamieson said councils would continue to advocate for the return of FAGs funding to 1 per cent of total taxation revenue.