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Positive start councils will look to build on

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Last night’s federal budget, the first handed down by new Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers, included significant positives for local government, headlined by a $250m expansion of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.

$200m per year was allocated for disaster mitigation from 2023-24, the importance of which has been highlighted again this week during the current flood emergency across the state.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), alongside the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), has long advocated for restoring Financial Assistance Grants to the previous benchmark of 1 percent of Commonwealth tax revenue. While an increase of $100m is welcome, we will continue our push towards 1 percent.

MAV President Cr David Clark said the budget was a positive start for the local government sector.

“The expansion of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program is a great win for councils, to ensure the continual improvement of local connections throughout our communities.”

“The new federal government came to office with a promise of ‘fair increases’ to Financial Assistance Grants, while the discussions so far have been constructive, we’re not there yet,” Cr Clark explained.

“The local government sector, led by ALGA and the MAV, will continue to advocate restore this program to previous funding levels so councils can deliver on the vital day-to-day services and infrastructure that aren’t glamorous enough for a photo opportunity with the local MP,” Cr Clark said.

Recent flooding has again highlighted the enormous challenge faced by councils – particularly regional councils – in maintaining their road networks.

“We are also pleased to see ALGA included in the landmark Housing Accord. Local Government has a key role to play in addressing housing affordability, so it is critical our voice is at the decision-making table.”

Cr Clark said the MAV will work with the federal government to ensure positive outcomes for local communities.

“The MAV will be advocating to the Federal Government to ensure that funding through the Growing Regions and Precincts and Partnerships programs is transparent and accountable, and focussed on local government projects.”