Panel named to oversee NSW roads reclassification
Regional routes to be identified for transition from council to state control
Almost a year after announcing plans to reclassify certain council roads as state roads, the New South Wales government has formed an expert panel to choose which ones.
Panel will conduct a review of the road classification framework and recommend roads for transfer to the state government.
"This is about delivering on our election commitment to take the financial burden off local councils and ratepayers, and builds on the record investment we are making in roads in the bush," Regional NSW minister John Barilaro says.
"Everyone in a regional area has a story about a road that isn’t up to scratch and turns their knuckles white when driving on it – and that isn’t good enough.
"This project is even more important now, with the drought and bushfires heavily impacting regional councils.
"Road maintenance is something they shouldn’t have to manage on their own."
Barilaro and then roads minister Melinda Pavey announced last February that more than $1 billion dollars to help clear the council roads maintenance backlog, repair NSW’s worst timber bridges, and reclaim up to 15,000km.
Former NRMA president Wendy Machin would chair the panel and would be supported by five other members with expertise and experience in roads, transport, engineering, local government and other sectors.
The panel members are:
- Wendy Machin
- Peter Duncan
- Jillian Kilby
- John Roydhouse
- Michael Kilgariff
- Peter Tegart.
The original announcement was welcomed at the time by Australian Trucking Association (ATA) CEO Ben Maguire and Australian Logistics Council (ALC) CEO Kirk Coningham.
"ALC warmly welcomed the election commitment made by the NSW government last year for the state to assume responsibility for up to 15,000 km of roads currently managed by local councils," Coningham says of the latest announcement.
"The initiative presents an opportunity to eliminate some of the inconsistencies, cost-shifting and administrative delays that arise by having different sections of the one road owned by multiple local councils.
"Smaller councils in regional areas often do not have the revenue base or the personnel required to maintain road infrastructure to the standard freight operators require to support the safe and efficient movement of goods through the supply chain.
"Moving key regional roads to state government management will also help to ensure that decisions around road access can be made promptly and applied consistently, so that freight movement is not needlessly delayed by administrative hold-ups.
"It will be important that the expert panel has a particular focus on freight transport as part of its remit.
"To that end, ALC is especially pleased that the expert panel will be chaired by former NRMA president Wendy Machin, who is widely respected throughout the road transport sector.
"We similarly welcome the appointment of former ALC managing director and now Roads Australia CEO Michael Kilgariff to the panel.
"ALC looks forward to actively engaging with the expert panel throughout the consultation process and ensuring that its recommendations help to drive greater efficiency in the end-to-end supply chain."
Regional transport and roads minister Paul Toole sees the move as a recognition of economic developments in the state.
"The demands on our roads are changing. As we open up more regional centres and provide better connectivity across the State, it is vital that the system for managing and maintaining the network is supporting local communities, freight operators and motorists," Toole says.
"The NSW government is already making an unprecedented investment in our regional roads and will build on that by taking back the road maintenance costs for up to 15,000km of roads, easing pressure on local councils and ratepayers.
"The independent panel will provide advice on which roads should be transferred to the State and how to prioritise them."
The panel is to be conducting extensive consultations with councils and other key stakeholders, and is not expected to deliver its report until July 2021 at the earliest.
"This is a monumental task, with more than 180,000 kilometres of roads across the state’s entire road network and a complicated funding and maintenance program," Toole says.
"It’s critical we give the Panel sufficient time to talk to stakeholders and do a thorough review.
The panel is expected to meet this month and will prepare a discussion paper and consultation strategy for public release shortly afterwards.
The draft terms of reference will be distributed directly to councils for their consideration and feedback.