Labor promises an extra $900 million for rural and regional roads

Mid North Coast councils have a huge deficit when it comes to road infrastructure maintenance
Mid North Coast councils have a huge deficit when it comes to road infrastructure maintenance

Labor has announced that if it wins government, it will assist local councils to clear their road maintenance backlog by investing an extra $900 million in regional and rural roads.

This would almost double the existing $500 million fixing regional roads program, bringing the total investment to $1.4 billion.

The announcement comes as the NRMA revealed that the local roads infrastructure backlog has soared almost 30 per cent since 2014-15, including backlogs of $25.1 million in Bellingen Shire, $16.2 million in Kempsey Shire and $6.9 million in Nambucca.

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 would invest an additional $900 million over five years to fix regional local roads that have been rated ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’, Country Labor candidate for the NSW seat of Oxley, Susan Jenvey, said.

"Rural and regional roads are where most accidents occur and the funds would help get roads throughout Oxley’s four local government areas back to an acceptable standard," Ms Jenvey said.

However, when the NRMA report was released in January, the Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, said that since 2011 the government has granted Oxley councils over $3 billion dollars to fix country roads, replace timber bridges and maintain or improve local infrastructure. 

“Of course, there is more to do, but let’s remember this government has doubled the roads budget and we are working our way through the backlog that Labor left us,” Mrs Pavey, who is also minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, said.