Roads to Recovery a key issue for new ALGA president

By: Brad Gardner


Troy Pickard will focus his energy on securing permanent funding for roads spending program.

Roads to Recovery a key issue for new ALGA president
Troy Pickard wants an end to the four-year funding cycle.

 

The newly-elected president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is planning to use his role to push for the Roads to Recovery program to be made permanent.

Troy Pickard, who was elected ALGA president this week, wants an end to the four-year funding cycle that has characterised the popular program since its inception in 2000.

The Federal Government has committed to Roads to Recovery until 2019, but Pickard told attendees at this year's National Local Roads and Transport Congress that councils needed long-term certainty.

The Government earlier this year passed legislation to remove the need for it to seek federal parliamentary approval for the program to be extended every four years.

"That helps to avoid the political machinations which almost brought the program to its knees earlier this year, but [there is] still no guarantee of future funding," says Pickard, who is also the mayor of Joondalup in Western Australia.

"We still have to champion for the program and persuade the government of the day that it should continue.

"Our case for a permanent Roads to Recovery program is well developed. Over the next two years I want to see this case strengthened and, as president, I and the ALGA board will be working to make sure every politician understands the need for the program and to secure a commitment for Roads to Recovery beyond 2019."

But federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss, who appeared at the Transport Congress, disputes Pickard's claim that future funding under Roads to Recovery is not guaranteed.

"A feature of the legislation that went through the parliament was that there is no closing date. So it is permanent. It will not require legislation to extend the program beyond 2019," he says.

However, Truss adds that funding will continue to be allocated over a four-year cycle.

"Roads to Recovery, like all government expenditure, has to go through the annual budget process, but it is really locked in for four years and will have to be considered at that time," he says.

"But that is as long as any government funding program ever has, is a four-year cycle. So the  Roads to Recovery program, unlike the previous legislation, is now permanent and you can count on it continuing into the future."

Roads to Recovery was created under the Howard government to help councils throughout Australia build and maintain their road networks.

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