Victoria Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu
Victoria Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan
Coalition Announces $100 Million Local Govt Infrastructure Account
Victor P Taffa
Local Councils will be given greater authority and support to fund priority community projects under a Coalition Government $100 Million Local Government Infrastructure Account, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
Mr. Ryan, who announced the initiative at the Municipal Association of Victoria Annual Conference in Melbourne today, said Regional and Rural Councils across Victoria were struggling because John Brumby had starved them of funding and overburdened them with State Government responsibilities.
“The Coalition’s $100 Million Local Government Infrastructure Account, funded through the Coalition’s $1 Billion Regional Growth Fund, will supplement, not replace current Government expenditure and provide greater certainty for Regional and Rural Councils in Victoria.” Mr. Ryan said.
“The Local Government Infrastructure Account has the flexibility to support a range of local council initiatives including Roads Projects, Bridges, New Community Assets such as Halls and Theatres, Sporting Grounds, Grand Stands, Pools, Libraries, and Upgrading Existing Facilities.”
Mr. Ryan said the funding would help to address the infrastructure backlog that had developed in Regional and Rural Victoria after 11 years of Labor Government.
“The Local Government Infrastructure Account will be administered so as to give councils a clear understanding of the funding they are likely to receive in future years and the flexibility to allocate the money to projects that reflect local priorities.” Mr. Ryan said.
“Allocations to individual councils will be based primarily on need and population to ensure smaller, financially struggling rural councils receive their fair share of funding.”
Mr. Ryan said it would also enable smaller councils to effectively plan their future infrastructure investment programs.
“Councils will not be forced to chase grants or use resources liaising with Government Departments regarding grant opportunities.”
Leader of the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Ted Baillieu said funding allocations would recognise the financial sustainability pressures faced by councils with large geographic areas and small populations.
“The detailed methodology for allocating funds to individual councils will be developed in consultation with local government, and it will be published.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“Projects will be determined via a transparent and accountable process, which is vastly different from Premier John Brumby’s track record of cover-ups and withholding funding from communities when they need it most.”
Mr. Baillieu said more than 30 Rural Councils were suffering from additional cost burdens imposed by Labor and Premier John Brumby throughout the past 11 years.
“An independent report recently named 18 small rural councils in Victoria that no longer had capacity to service their communities because of a lack of Government Support.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“Under Labor, the distribution of Regional Infrastructure Development Funds to individual councils is haphazard and lacks transparency, but local councils are reluctant to speak freely about deficiencies in government policy for fear it will jeopardise their future project funding.”
Mr. Baillieu said under a Coalition Government, councils would work with Regional Development Committees rather than Melbourne-based government departments to apply for priority project funding.
“The Coalition’s $100 Million Local Government Infrastructure Account will help reverse the damage inflicted on councils by City-Centric Labor through cost shifting and under-funding.” Mr. Baillieu said.
“Regional and Rural Councils is the cornerstone of this state and only the Coalition is willing and able to stand up for Local Government.” Mr. Baillieu said.