Federal parties called on to fund local communities
Local government collects just 3.6 per cent of all taxes nationally, yet its small budgets are responsible for maintaining $354 billion in local roads, facilities and infrastructure relied upon by communities every day.
(Media release courtesy of the Municipal Association of Victoria - original post 14 June)
Victorian local government is calling on political parties to commit to eight priorities ahead of the federal election that invest in local roads, community infrastructure, and services for children and older people.
Cr Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said local government’s plan for investment in local roads and facilities could deliver tangible benefits to all communities.
“Party leaders have been sent our list of six priorities identified by local government nationally, plus two Victorian local government requests to continue federal funding for kindergartens and aged care programs.
“Local government collects just 3.6 per cent of all taxes nationally, yet its small budgets are responsible for maintaining $354 billion in local roads, facilities and infrastructure relied upon by communities every day.
“Core financial assistance grants provided by the Commonwealth to local government have not been indexed for three years, representing an estimated loss of $118 million to Victorian council budgets.
“We want the incoming government to restore indexation in 2017 and increase the total quantum of financial assistance grants to at least one per cent of Commonwealth taxation to ensure all communities can enjoy the provision of basic municipal services regardless of where they live.
“Local roads make up 75 per cent of the entire national road network and are a huge cost for councils to maintain and upgrade. Commonwealth Roads to Recovery funding will provide $163.8 million to Victorian councils this year, with a total investment exceeding $1.4 billion since the program first began in 2001.
“The base funding has been around $71 million for Victorian councils, but additional funding was committed by the Commonwealth over three years using funds generated from the reintroduction of fuel excise.
“This has been a welcome additional investment into our local roads, and we’re calling for the Roads to Recovery funding to be permanently doubled in the Federal Budget to improve road safety outcomes.
“Other commitments sought from political parties include $300 million a year for a community infrastructure fund and $200 million a year for a national freight strategy and local government higher productivity plan.
“Investing in local projects across the national will help the Australian Government to improve productivity, create local jobs and boost economic development which could add $7.46 billion to Gross Domestic Product.
“The national 15-hours kindergarten program has also received Commonwealth investment of around $109 million a year since it began in 2013. However, Victorian families and kinder programs again face uncertainty, with federal funding not committed beyond December 2017.
“Without federal funding, parents face potentially exorbitant fee increases, pricing many families out of being able to access an affordable kindergarten program for their child.
“National aged care reforms commencing on 1 July will also see the Commonwealth take over responsibility for Victoria’s home and community care program which provides care, meals and support services to more than 300,000 older Victorians.
“We want all political parties to commit to honour the transition plan to ensure the continuation of home and community care services and funding until at least 2019.
“By investing in local communities, the Australian Government can achieve its own economic goals,” he said.