Nationally-significant infrastructure for Australia
Australia’s local road network is the first and last mile of most Australian road journeys. Local roads represent almost 80% of all roads in Australia, when measured in kilometres.
In rural, regional and remote Australia, these roads are often the biggest single factor for business efficiency, domestic and export market success, social connectedness and community safety. Yet only 41% of Australia’s local roads are even sealed in bitumen!
By any measure, these roads are a nationally-significant infrastructure asset. But they are ageing fast and falling into increasingly poor condition. These roads are failing to support efficient agricultural business. They are not ready to support the huge development of mining activity occurring in many of Australia’s rural areas.
Nationally significant, but nationally ignored!
Together Australia’s local roads are valued at around $75 billion dollars, but Australia does not manage this asset centrally or strategically. Local roads are underfunded by around 3 billion dollars each year. Current bureaucratic structures don’t allow for current funds to be spent efficiently on road upkeep and expansion.
Canberra is in the dark about local roads. It can tell you almost nothing about them: local roads are a $75 billion dollar asset of national significance that have been mismanaged by successive governments for decades. Local roads are the lifeblood of much of the Australian economy. Their management and funding structures must change.
The Australian Rural Roads Group is a non-political organisation of over 100 rural local governments and affected rural businesses and local communities that want this problem fixed. It is dedicated to developing innovative and excellent policy research and structural reform proposals that will see Australia’s local road networks in better condition for future generations to support prosperous rural communities.
Of all the road investment levels in Australia (local state and federal), local road funding is the most complex and least transparent. Local road funding is a vast undertaking, considering the volume of road stock – but the funding attached to that road stock is meagre, in relative terms.
A glance at the numbers raises questions about the current funding outcome for local roads:
Of course, these numbers give no indication of being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but a fundamental feature of the current grant funding system (apart from its complexity) is that road funding bears no relationship to the relative productivity potential of the local roads being funded.
Who we are
The ARRG was founded in June 2010 by a number of rural local governments from around Australia tired of dealing with the local road funding and maintenance challenges and seeing no answers to the problem forthcoming from higher governments.
The group’s focus is on productivity – how can more productive investments be made in rural local road networks when grant funding does not consider or reward productivity at all? How can rural local governments fund more efficient road investments with dwindling populations of rural ratepayers, and little or no access to car park, fines and land development revenue that urban councils can draw on?
The ARRG quickly established membership of all rural local governments in Australia which produced over $100 million in rural commodities each year. There were over 110 of these local governments around the country. Together they produce half of Australia’s total agricultural output, but they are left with a broken road funding and investment system. This group has now expanded.
All members share a simple message: ‘We represent productive communities, and we can be even more productive in future! But we need a better rural road funding system to get there!’
A commitment to policy excellence
Since its foundation, the group has published leading research and recommendations on structural reform of Australia’s road funding system. Most notably, its ideas have found strong and vocal support from Infrastructure Australia, the independent statutory body that advises the Australian Prime Minister, Premiers and Head of Local Government on important infrastructure policy reform and spending priorities
The ARRG’s membership is expanding all the time. It continues its commitment to research and publication of a better way forward for local road funding and management. Visit the publications section of this website to see completed work of the ARRG and see the News section to see the latest developments.
AUSTRALIAN RURAL ROAD GROUP INC
C/- Locked Bag 5 • BINGRARA • NSW • 2404
Max Eastcott (Secretary/Public Officer) 0427 240 112
Inquiries: (02) 6724 2021 • Fax: (02) 6724 1771
John Coulton (Chairperson) 0427 297 082
Sue Price (Treasurer) 0427 169 676
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