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Labor pledges to assist local councils to clear their regional road maintenance backlog

The Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Peter Primrose toured the South Coast this week to see first hand the local roads infrastructure backlog that NRMA recently revealed as having soared almost 30 per cent since 2014-15. Locally the Eurobodalla Shire Council Director of Infrastructure Services Warren Sharpe told the Bay Post on January 24th that council was working hard to address the backlog saying “It’s important to note the backlog has been reducing steadily, but under-funding from state and federal governments is one of the reasons for this backlog.” In addressing the Rural Land Strategy Committee in May 2014 of the need to consider a Special Rate Variation the Director presented the case saying there was: • significant backlog of renewal work > $20M • Significant and growing annual infrastructure renewal gap > $3M pa • Growth in assets base due to development • Capacity issues on Beach Road and at junctions due to growth in traffic from new subdivisions, increased visitation, economic growth That backlog has now compounded as per Council's own annual reports to $32 million and it appears that there is little hope if addressing it along with the equally concerning backlog that is also growing around other public assets such as swimming pools and public buildings.

The Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Peter Primrose announced this week however that a Daley Labor Government will assist local councils to clear their regional road maintenance backlog by investing an additional $900 million in regional and rural roads – almost double the existing $500m fixing regional roads program – and bringing total investment to $1.4 billion.

Above: The Shadow Minister for Regional Roads, Peter Primrose with Country Labor candidate for Bega, Leanne Atkinson inspecting first hand the evidence of infrastructure backlog in the Eurobodalla

He said "It comes after eight long years of neglect by the Liberals and Nationals, who have cheated regional and rural NSW out of almost half the infrastructure spending they were promised.

"Last month, the NRMA’s ‘Funding Local Roads’ report found that the Regional and Local Roads network, which encompasses 80 per cent of roads in NSW, was in a state of decline and failing to properly accommodate existing passenger and freight movements.

"To bring these regional and rural roads up to standard, Labor will invest an additional $900 million over five years to fix regional local roads that have been rated ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’.

The Shadow Minister said: “For too long the Liberals and Nationals have taken regional and rural NSW for granted.

“Rural and regional roads are where most accidents occur, which is why it’s so important we properly maintain them.”

Country Labor candidate for Bega, Leanne Atkinson applauded the announcement: “The Liberals been too busy focusing on stadiums in Sydney and have failed to properly support local councils.”

“These funds will help get roads throughout the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shire Council areas back to an acceptable standard”

"The Berejiklian Liberal National Government is failing to meet its own objective that 30 per cent of the Restart NSW infrastructure fund is spent in rural NSW.

"In October, the independent Auditor General report found just 17.2 per cent of this fund was being allocated to regional areas last financial year. Shadow Minister for Roads, Jodi McKay also added comment by saying “Labor will take advice from the experts and channel this funding to where it’s needed to fix local roads.”

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