Councils to Receive $2bil for Roads

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
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Local councils will get more than $2 billion in federal funding after parliament finally agreed to extend the Roads to Recovery program.

 Government legislation, which had been held up in the Senate, passed on Thursday after Labor chose not to insist on several of its amendments.

The bill releases $2.1 billion in Roads to Recovery funding, tied up until now because the program was only legislated until June 2014.

Local councils can use the funds to build and fix roads in their communities.

The future of the program has been uncertain for several months, with Labor demanding a mandatory cost-benefit analysis for projects over $100 million and the inclusion of the heavy vehicle safety program.

Both those amendments were defeated in the Senate 34-33 but Labor supported the bill regardless.

Labor’s support came after Palmer United Party’s three senators, along with ally Ricky Muir, reneged on their agreement to back the bill at the 11th hour.

The quartet sat alone in trying to stop it being considered at all.

In lengthy debate, the government questioned why the bill had become so controversial, especially as it was extending a Labor program.

“This is a very simple piece of legislation,” government frontbencher David Johnston told the Senate.

The bill extends the Roads to Recovery program, changes its name and tidies up some aspects in line with the government’s mandate to reduce red tape, he said.

Labor’s Doug Cameron said despite his party’s demands being voted down, they would not stand in the way of funding the program.

The Australian Greens wanted similar amendments to Labor, but joined the opposition in allowing its passage.

The Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014 now goes back to the lower house for approval of a minor amendment.

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