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Oakeshott calls for GST redistribution to local councils
6 February 2012
OAKESHOTT CALLS FOR GST REDISTRIBUTION TO LOCAL COUNCILS
THE infrastructure backlog facing 550 local councils around Australia could be fixed if Labor, Liberal and National Party MPs backed a campaign to redistribute GST revenue, says Independent Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott.
Attending a roads forum in Taree last week, Mr Oakeshott said the only way to address the nation’s local road network failures was to redirect some of the Commonwealth’s GST payments straight to local councils.
“Greater Taree City Council has a $250 million backlog on local road maintenance, primarily because its annual roads maintenance program requires $27 million a year, every year, and yet it only has $10 million a year at most to spend on roads.
“With the council responsible for 90 per cent of roads in the local government area, it’s not surprising the local road network is failing.
“On top of that, the council’s desperate situation is made even worse by the failure of the NSW Government to deliver $19 million in natural disaster payments for road damage that occurred in June last year.
“It’s an appalling example of how natural disaster processes fail when the flood is over. Ratepayers in the Manning are rightly angry that this $19 million from the last flood hasn’t yet come through, let alone any requests resulting from last week’s floods,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“The GST Review needs to consider direct funding to local government now. The legal case known as Pape, or Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, is a weak argument to delay a structural change of fundamental importance to Australia.
“I can already hear the state governments squealing that ‘it’s our money’. It’s my view that it’s the people’s money and it’s about time some of it was used on the national local road network,” Mr Oakeshott said.
ENDS Media contact: Sharon Fuller - 0429 787320