May 21, 2014

Abbott drives up council rates

Tony Abbott’s senseless cuts to funding of local roads are set to force councils to lift municipal rates in the latest fall-out from last week’s Budget.

Despite claiming to have increased road funding in the Budget,  Mr Abbott in fact froze financial assistance grants to the nation’s councils – the equivalent of almost a $1 billion cut across the forward estimates.

Mayors across the nation are warning the move will force them to cut road funding, reduce services or increase rates, while the Local Government Association has condemned the change, which comes on top of Mr Abbott’s attempt to cut health and education funding to the states by $80 billion.

As the dust settles on the Budget it is becoming increasingly clear that Mr Abbott want to re-ignite the old inter-governmental blame game that plagued the Howard Government, in which he was a senior minister.

Local councils rely upon Commonwealth road funding to maintain local roads.

What’s more, this size of the cut will only grow year by year, as it is designed to do.

Indeed, after six years the cut will be the equivalent of the entire Roads to Recovery program funding.

In the seventh year, the cut will exceed the value of the Roads to Recovery program.

These cuts will be higher for the more disadvantaged local government areas which rely on the funding and will therefore have a particularly harsh impact on rural and regional areas.

Reducing funding will make roads less efficient when it comes to moving produce to market and will also reduce road safety.

Labor believes in working with other levels of government to provide the services and infrastructure that communities require.