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Rudd hands local governments $300m -

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Rudd hands local governments $300m

Broadcast: 18/11/2008

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It's a task to warm the heart of shire councillors everywhere: spend money
and spend it fast.

That's the challenge the Federal Government has set its local cousins, as the Prime Minister looks
for new ways to prop up the slowing economy.

Kevin Rudd met the nation's mayors today with $300 million burning a hole in his pocket.

Most local government authorities will receive around $500,000, but some are in for millions.

Dana Robertson reports from Canberra.

DANA ROBERTSON, REPORTER: The world economy's melting, but local governments never had it so good.

LOCAL MAYOR: How was Washington?

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: Oh, it was good, good.

DANA ROBERTSON: The latest instalment of the Government's plan to boost the economy is aimed
squarely at the grass roots. $300 million is being splurged to give local communities a shot in the
arm.

KEVIN RUDD: These initiatives might include upgrades to local sporting grounds, refurbishing a
local community centre, or a local swimming pool, upgrading a streetscape, building a tourism
information centre or building or repairing and indoor sports centre.

DANA ROBERTSON: The nation's biggest local council, Brisbane, gets $2.9 million dollars. The
smallest handful get just $100,000.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER: The average council will receive about $450,000.

DANA ROBERTSON: But no one's complaining.

LOCAL MAYOR II: I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity.

KEVIN RUDD: Oh, I'm happy to do it.

LOCAL MAYOR III: Thankyou, Monsieur le Premier Ministre.

DANA ROBERTSON: The Prime Minister expects the infrastructure spending will create thousands of
jobs and he's not prepared to wait.

KEVIN RUDD: By immediate, I mean immediate. Immediate means now. It's ready to go now.

(Audience applauds).

DANA ROBERTSON: But there are some caveats. Councils must start spending the money by June next
year, with building to be finished by September. And it can't be diverted into projects that were
already in the pipeline.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It can't be projects that they've budgeted for. They can't simply take the money
and use it to do - for spending on something they were going to do anyway.

DANA ROBERTSON: There's no problem there. The mayors have a wish list as long as the lunch table.

WENDY TUCKERMAN, BOOROWA COUNCIL: Sporting showers, change rooms for our recreation oval and
storage areas. Little things like that.

JO SHEPPARD, PAROO SHIRE COUNCIL: We've got a civic centre which has severe structural damage.

GEOFF GOUGH, MANNINGHAM CITY COUNCIL: Stadium development for sports stadiums and things within our
region.

DANA ROBERTSON: But with everyone going away a winner, the Government's anxious to avoid
accusations that its stimulus package is pork-

barrelling in disguise. The Infrastructure Minister insists there's been no political interference
in deciding where the money goes.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It's all up on the website to see. There's no committee appointed by a minister,
meeting in some backroom somewhere.

DANA ROBERTSON: The Opposition has backed the spending, but says Kevin Rudd's missed an opportunity
to link it to approved

accountability.

SCOTT MORRISON, OPPOSITION LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: There needs to be a quid pro quo for what
the Federal Government is putting into local government. I think taxpayers and ratepayers expect
standards to be raised.

DANA ROBERTSON: This is already part three of the Government's economic rescue package and the
Prime Minister's given a hint that it's not over yet.

KEVIN RUDD: But in terms of the challenge ahead, we got to do whatever we can to support domestic
tourism.

DANA ROBERTSON: Smiling as the surplus slips away. Dana Robertson, Lateline.