The NSW State Government proposal to reclaim up to 15,000 kilometres of rural and regional council roads has been welcomed by Local Government NSW.
A panel of six experts has been appointed to identify a selection of roads to be reclassified to state control.
“Local Government NSW, on behalf of councils, has been pushing for an end to cost shifting in the road system for some time," said LGNSW President, Cr Linda Scott.
“We thank the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW and the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads for responding to our calls to work with us to reduce the administrative and financial burden.
“The management of tens of thousands of kilometres of roads by rural and regional councils is yet another example of cost shifting, in which local councils take on more responsibilities for services and infrastructure without the provision of adequate funding.
“It’s one of the most significant problems facing councils. In 2018/19, about $820 million was cost-shifted to NSW councils, part of a burden estimated at $6.2 billion over 10 years.”
Cr Scott wants the group to work closely with LGNSW and member councils and is hopeful of a fast-tracked decision.
“Councils must be consulted as the independent panel formulates its advice on which roads should be given to the state and how to prioritise each one.
“In doing so, it is our hope the panel will be able to deliver their report well in advance of July 2021, the delivery date indicated by the Deputy Premier.
“This project is even more important now, with the drought and bushfires heavily impacting regional councils. These communities simply cannot be expected to wait any longer than is necessary.”
John Roydhouse, former IPWEA NSW CEO, is on the panel.
David Jenkins, IPWEA Australasia CEO said, “I welcome this proposal, which is both sensible and pragmatic. I am sure the experts will work closely with LGNSW to generate the best outcomes for all concerned.”
The other five panel members are: Wendy Machin, Peter Duncan, Jillian Kilby, Michael Kilgariff and Peter Tegart.