The newly minted sign held up this morning on Waterworks Rd, Ashgrove by a volunteer for the LNP candidate’s campaign for the seat of Ryan said: Will fix local roads.
A welcome commitment you might think. But it depends on what you understand by the term “fix”.
Waterworks Rd, for example, is Brisbane City Council’s responsibility, not the federal government’s. Certainly, the council would welcome any help from Canberra in paying for its maintenance, but it remains a local government road.
Across the country, local roads suffer a significant under-investment which is having an increasing impact on both the efficiency of freight movements and the quality of road safety.
That federal candidates have taken the trouble to address local roads in their campaigning for the 18 May election shows that the voting public regard the issue as important.
The Morrison Government last month announced a substantial funding increase for road maintenance, a decision that was welcomed but in truth it only went part of the way towards repairing the road infrastructure deficit around Australia.
For example, the Government revealed a 25 percent boost to Roads to Recovery funding over the next five years, which translates into an average $20 million a year increase in funding for local roads in Queensland.
However, the Australian Local Government Association’s State of the Assets report estimates that around 11 percent of local government transport assets, with a replacement value of around $20 billion, are in poor or very poor condition and in need of urgent maintenance or renewal.
So, a welcome boost to necessary funding but not enough.
ALGA and the LGAQ are calling on all parties contesting the poll to commit to investing $800 million a year into Roads to Recovery to help plug the deficit in road infrastructure funding in local government.
That deficit represents an overall underspend of $1.2 billion a year, an outcome which directly affects road safety in Australia.
A commitment to improving road safety is included in the LGAQ’s seven-point federal election plan. With its pre-Budget announcement last month, the Liberal National Party coalition has addressed the issue, albeit only partially.
While Labor has signed up to some big spending road and transport infrastructure programs in Queensland if it wins the election, not a lot of them involve local roads, where half of road crashes happen. Moreover, far more deaths occur on rural and regional roads than on metropolitan roads.
Time for Labor and the other parties to come clean on where they stand regarding specific commitments to Roads to Recovery, the Black Spot program and other vital road safety programs.