Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss’ desperate attempt to conceal cuts to local roads funding reached fever pitch today in Question Time.
During a response in which he claimed yet more Labor Government-funded roads projects as his own, Mr Truss also sought to rewrite history on Roads to Recovery funding.
The 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget papers show that the Labor Government extended both Roads to Recovery funding and the Black Spots program across the forward estimates.
The Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014 did little more than eliminate the term nation building from the statue books as part of Mr Abbott’s agenda of rebadging Labor Government programs.
A simple check of the Bill and its explanatory memoranda will confirm there is no funding attached to this piece of legislation.
Labor sought to strengthen the Bill, particularly by ensuring that all major projects of more than $100 million would have cost-benefit analysis through the Infrastructure Australia process.
Worse, in making his deceptive comments today, Mr Truss has tried to conceal the Coalition Government’s $1 billion cuts to financial assistance grants to councils, used for local roads, across the forward estimates.
Indeed, after six years the cuts will be the equivalent of the entire Roads to Recovery program funding.
In the seventh year, the cuts will exceed the total 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.
If Mr Truss is serious about local roads he should follow the former Labor Government’s example of increasing funding for the program instead of making cuts greater than its entire value.
The only threats to Roads to Recovery funding are the Coalition Government’s cuts and its failure to support Constitutional recognition of local government.