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Regional Road transfers now being reconsidered to instead burden councils

Presently in Eurobodalla we have several regional roads that are co-funded for maintenance and reconstruction by the State Government. Durras, Long Beach, Beach Road, George Bass Drive, North Head Road, South Head Road, Hector McWilliam Drive, Mort Avenue..... all regional roads that receive annual funding from the State because they are classified as Regional. As an election promise the State Governement said it would actually reclasify more roads to remove the burden to Councils. This made the councils happy. It now appears that the State Government have looked at this promise and decided that they needed a re-think. NSW Labor has discovered the Government’s plan to reclassify regional and rural roads that will strip millions of dollars in maintenance funding from local Councils.

The Shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Mick Veitch said: “There’s a real risk the Government will slash funding from Councils to make this work.”

A Transport for NSW report confirmed the Government is looking to rip more than $151.5 million in grants from rural and regional Councils every year when 15,000 kilometres of Council-owned roads is transferred to the State.

“They’re going to take money currently allocated to Councils to fund road maintenance work,” Mr Veitch said, “Councils will still have to maintain a large network of roads.

“Local Councils use this money to support local jobs and the State Government should not touch it.”

The report also confirms the intended transfer rate is only 2,000 kilometres per year. Even if the process begins as soon as possible, Mr Veitch said it would likely take until 2029 to complete.

However, there are serious doubts about whether the project will go ahead.  The report said the transfer of roads to the State is “almost certain” to fail without additional funding. This is partly due to a growing $3.8 billion blowout in roads maintenance.

Mr Veitch said “Clearly the Government doesn’t have a handle of managing roads in NSW. It’s a mess.

“Not only are they looking at taking money from councils to fund their election promise, they’re also talking about blowing out the timeframe to make it happen. You have to question the Government’s commitment to the reclassification process.”

The Shadow Minister for Roads, John Graham said: “Every council in regional NSW should be up in arms about this proposal. It will destroy local jobs.  We need an economic stimulus, not a slowdown.”

The Shadow Minister for Local Government, Greg Warren, said every regional and rural Council is affected.

“Councils across NSW welcomed this election commitment to transfer 15,000 kilometres of road to the State to help ease their financial burdens. Now they’ve learned the Government is trying to wriggle its way out of its commitment.  And if it does go ahead, they stand to lose millions. Whichever way this goes, it will hurt regional and rural communities,” Mr Warren said. Mr Veitch told the Beagle "the NSW Government insists on Council's being Fit for the Future. So much so that if you are not Fit it impacts on you ability to gain TCORP loans for Council infrastructure. Adding regional roads to the asset base and providing no financial support will only increase the financial burden on the community. This will result in either an increase in rates or a reduction in services in order to remain Fit for the Future."

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