Federal Member for Ballarat Catherine King today warned that local roads and community infrastructure would be a casualty of Tony Abbott’s budget cuts to Local Government Financial Assistance Grants.
Yesterday’s announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister of $2.3 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to local government confirms that councils will be cut in real terms this year as a result of the Abbott Government’s indexation freeze.
“The freeze will grind regional economies to a halt stripping the equivalent of almost $1 billion from local council budgets across the forward estimates,” Ms King said.
“As a result, Tony Abbott is forcing local councils to cut critical road or community infrastructure investment, reduce services or increase rates.
“Investment in regional infrastructure and services is essential to stimulate regional economies and create jobs and this requires co-investment from all levels of government.
“What we’ve seen in the first year of the Abbott Government is an entirely different approach whereby regional communities are increasingly being told to go it alone.”
The freeze comes on top of the Government’s failure to secure continued funding for the $2.1 billion Roads to Recovery programme, which expired on June 30.
Despite bi-partisan support for Roads to Recovery, the Abbott Government forgot to put legislation to the Senate allowing for the programme’s continuation prior to the June 30 expiry date.
“The combination of cuts and funding delays means councils will struggle to maintain existing infrastructure and as a result our community stands to lose new investment in vital infrastructure.”