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Government keeps local roads funding united



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5 .

DAVID SIMMONS MINISTER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT - MINISTER FOR FAMILY SUPPORT

GOVERNMENT KEEPS LOCAL ROADS FUNDING UNTIED

5 May 1992

The Federal Government has decided to maintain for a further three years the separate identity of the $300 million in local roads funding provided to Local Government rather than absorb the funding into general purpose assistance for Local Government

The Minister for Local Government David Simmons, said that under the new arrangements approved by Cabinet yesterday each State's share of funds would be maintained at the present proportion.

The funds will be distributed in each State on the basis of principles reflecting road needs including special roads needs where appropriate.

These principles will be agreed between the Commonwealth, the States and Local Government.

The Minister said changes to arrangements for local road funding had arisen from the 1990 Special Premiers Conference.

At that conference it was agreed that local roads funding should be untied and paid to Local Government via general purpose assistance.

"The Government adopted interim funding arrangements in 1991-92 whereby local roads funds were untied but separately identified within general purpose assistance.

"The interim arrangements provided a period of stability while consultations proceeded with Local Government and the States on the detailed arrangements to apply in 1992-93 and beyond."

Mr Simmons said that the new arrangements have been developed on the basis of detailed consultations with State and Local Governments on a wide range of options. '

"While the identity of this funding has been maintained, the funding is untied and Local Government has total discretion in determining its own expenditure priorities," he said.

Local Government has argued strongly for the continued separate identification of roads

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funds and is expected to support the new arrangements.

"The Government has also decided that all local governing bodies in the Northern Territory in receipt of Commonwealth financial assistance grants should also receive a direct local roads funding allocation," Mr Simmons said.

"This will bring arrangements in the Territory into line with those in the remainder of Australia.

"It will extend identified road funding to an additional 52 local governing bodies in the Northern Territory, the majority of which represent Aboriginal communities," he added.

Mr Simmons said that because of the timing of the Government's decision he did not expect that State Local Government Grants Commissions would be recommending any significant changes to the distribution of grants in their States for 1992/93.

"The Government has given a commitment to maintaining the aggregate level of local roads funding in real terms until 1993/94.

"The arrangements recognise the concerns of Local Government for funding stability and that Local Government is best placed to determine investment priorities at the local level," he said.

Further information: Lesley Boaden (06) 277 7240; a/h (06) 292 6658.