Funding partnerships key to repairing national infrastructure

By Melissa Coade

December 20, 2021

library
Local councils own and manage $342 billion worth of local infrastructure. (Tyler Olson/Adobe)

The Australian Local Government Association has published new research underscoring the need for better funding partnerships across all levels of government. 

The association’s ‘National State of the Assets’ report was published for the first time in 2013, and this year was prepared by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA). 

The 2021 report findings show that approximately 1 in 10 of Australia’s major public infrastructure or facilities is ‘in a poor condition with significant defects’.

ALGA president Linda Scott said that maintaining Australian libraries, recreation and sporting facilities, community centres, stormwater systems, swimming pools, local airports, bridges and roads was important for community health, wellbeing and productivity.

“This new research is a timely reminder of the importance of maintaining what we already have, as well as looking ahead to what our communities will need in the future,” Scott said of the finding that 10% of infrastructure facilities were in a poor condition, had significant defects, and required maintenance or replacement.

Scott added that councils only received 3.5% of Australian taxation despite owning and managing approximately $342 billion worth of local infrastructure. Ahead of the federal election, she said the ALGA is calling for the value of commonwealth financial assistance grants to be restored to the 1980s level of funding — equivalent to a minimum of 1% of commonwealth taxation revenue.

“We appreciate every dollar we receive in Commonwealth funding – as well as the support we receive from our state and territory governments – but often it’s tied to delivering new infrastructure projects,” Scott said. 

“The financial assistance grants all councils receive from the Commonwealth are particularly valuable for our communities as they are untied, meaning we can use this funding where it’s most needed.”

The ALGA argues that boosting grants the federal government awards councils would create more than 16,200 jobs and add an extra $2.37 billion per year.

“This would support us to maintain the local facilities Australians use every day and preserve them for our kids and future generations to use and enjoy,” Scott said. 

“We’re also calling for a $300 million increase to the Commonwealth’s roads to recovery program so we can continue to replace and renew local roads that are no longer safe or fit for purpose.”


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