Australia

ALGA calls for investment in local infrastructure

THE rebuilding of infrastructure in flood-ravaged areas should not overshadow the need for ongoing funding in the Federal Budget for local roads, active transport, and community infrastructure to address Australia's growing infrastructure backlog, according to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

Announcing the release of the ALGA 2011-12 Budget submission last week, President Genia McCafferey said that local government is at the "forefront of the recovery".

"In the aftermath of the horrific flooding in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as the Western Australia cyclone and bushfires, it is local government that is left to pick up the pieces of shattered communities and to rebuild broken lives."

Cr McCafferey said that given the extent of the 2011 natural disaster, a number of councils may not be in a position to adequately fund the restoration of local infrastructure, requiring the provision of special payments to local governments.

At a broader level, ALGA's Budget submission calls for a review of the funding that local government receives from the Australian Government.

"The proportion of Commonwealth tax revenue that local government receives has dropped from 1% in 1996 to less than 0.7% today. With the increasing number of responsibilities shouldered by local government, a solid financial footing is essential for the continued financial viability of local councils and the diverse communities we serve," Cr McCafferey said.

Cr McCafferey said the ALGA called for support on a number of issues, including climate change risk management assessment studies, reducing the backlog of local government infrastructure spending, construction of flood levees and a national civics education campaign in the lead-up to a 2013 referendum on the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution.

The ALGA's 2011-12 Budget submission, 'Building Our Regional Capacity, and Supporting Our Urban Communities', is available from the ALGA website at <http://www.alga.asn.au/>.

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