Stalled legislative changes halt Roads to Recovery payments


Federal funding of $2.1 billion to local governments for road projects is in jeopardy.

Stalled legislative changes halt Roads to Recovery payments
No deal: Warren Truss says the Federal Government does not support amendments to the Land Transport Amendment Bill.

 

More than $2 billion in federal payments to local governments to maintain their road networks is in jeopardy after legislation to grant the funding stalled.

The Senate failed to pass the Land Transport Amendment Bill last week, meaning it will not be considered again until Parliament resumes in August.

The Bill grants $2.1 billion to councils under the Roads to Recovery program. The program expired on June 30, so the Bill is necessary to ensure the scheme continues.

"We know how important this funding is for councils, which is why we added $350 million to the Roads to Recovery Program so we could double the payment to each and every council across Australia for the 2015-16 financial year," federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss says. 

"This is why we will have to pick up the pieces and fight to get the Bill through Parliament when it resumes in late August."

The Government postponed consideration of the Bill in the Senate after it realised the Opposition had gained enough numbers to pass a number of amendments.

Labor wants cost benefit analyses to be made publicly available for transport infrastructure projects, including those under the Black Spot and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity programs.

It also wants the Government to consult with advisory body Infrastructure Australia if a transport project costs $100 million or more.

The Government does not support the amendments. Truss says the proposed amendments are unacceptable and has accused Labor of attempting to increase red tape and prevent funding for road projects to local governments.

"The amendments would have added bureaucracy to the operation of the Government’s infrastructure investment program and made significant changes to the way Infrastructure Australia would be required to operate, which are issues that are more appropriately dealt with by amendments to the Infrastructure Australia Act," Truss says.

The Greens also want the Bill amended, including requiring the Government to consult with Infrastructure Australia if a project exceeds $50 million. This includes having Infrastructure Australia evaluate the project and taking into account the agency’s infrastructure priority lists.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook