The Abbott Government today prolonged uncertainty about road funding for local government by using its numbers to crush Labor’s attempt to rescue the Roads to Recovery program.
While the previous Labor Government funded the $2.1 billion scheme, the technical legislation allowing grants to be paid to councils expired on June 30.
Despite backing the scheme, bungling Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss failed to bring forward legislation to the Senate to continue it beyond the June 30 expiry.
Today I sought to correct this situation by asking Parliament to bring on debate and pass my Private Member’s Bill and give councils certainty by extending the program.
The Roads to Recovery Bill could have passed both houses of Parliament today.
However, the Coalition opposed even debating the legislation.
Average Australians must be wondering how it is that when both sides of the Parliament support Roads to Recovery, this incompetent government has not only failed to legislate to allow for its continuation, but also rejected Labor’s attempt to sort this issue out.
Roads to Recovery provides the greatest assistance to small councils in rural and regional areas, which is why it is extraordinary that the Nationals would not stand up for their electorates.
This comes on top of the Government’s $1 billion in Budget cuts to Financial Assistance Grants, also relied upon by small councils for road maintenance.
Mr Truss has played politics on Roads to Recovery for months. But he cannot escape the simple fact that as the minister, he has failed to do his job.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.