New study is proof

POINT PROVED: A new study confirms Colac Otway Shire Council concerns about the state of country roads.

Colac civic leaders have been saying it for years.
But now they have proof country roads will fall to bits without a massive injection of Federal Government money.
The Australian Local Government Association has released an independent study estimating that Australia’s country roads need an extra $1.2 billion each year just to maintain their current standard.
The ALGA says council rates can’t pay for the work, mirroring comments from Colac Otway Shire mayor Lyn Russell.
Cr Russell said country roads were deteriorating and councils across the nation didn’t have enough money to repair them.
She said the $1.2 million was just the amount needed for road maintenance, not upgrades.
“We can’t put the amount of rates on our community that is needed to upgrade our roads.
“It would be impossible for them to pay it.”
Cr Russell said the focus for roads funding had previously been on regional highways and urban roads, but the government needed to put the focus on rural roads.
“The study identified that the gap hasn’t been looked at for many years,” she said.
Cr Russell said people in rural areas fed and clothed the nation by producing food and fibre.
“They deserve to be looked after just as well as people in the city,” she said.
“The country is your food bowl.”
The ALGA study found Australia’s 565 councils managed 650,000 kilometres of “local roads”, or more than 80 per cent of the entire Australian road network.
ALGA president Geoff Lake said government funding was necessary for the roads.
“The Australian community is being dudded by successive state and federal governments who are happy to throw billions of dollars at new toll roads and national highways but who are not prepared to properly fund the basic local road infrastructure which connects every Australian to home, work, schools, farms, markets and tourist destinations,” Cr Lake said.
The study also found that while councils had increased rates to meet funding shortfalls, there was not enough money from rates for roads.
“What this study makes crystal clear is that the magnitude of funding local roads is now well beyond cash-strapped and resource-constrained councils and a dramatic increase in commonwealth investment is desperately needed,” Cr Lake said.

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