RURAL Councils Victoria has called for a dedicated rural “Build Back Better” fund in the wake of the ongoing floods crisis across the state.
Rural Councils Victoria chair, Cr Mary-Ann Brown, said ‘Build Back Better’ should be more than just an empty slogan.
“Following the state election, we need the next state government to establish a betterment fund to ensure that roads and other assets are repaired or replaced to a standard that can withstand future natural disasters,” she said.
“Rural councils across the state – many of which have borne the brunt of the floods – are still assessing the damage, but repairs to the required standard are likely to total billions of dollars.
“Each rural council is responsible for thousands of kilometres of local roads, but don’t have the rate base to be able to afford adequate road repairs, even in normal times.
“Victoria’s food producers, manufacturers, transport operators and residents need a dedicated fund to ensure that roads are constructed, repaired or reconstructed to a standard that can withstand frequent natural disasters. This means genuine long-term thinking.”
Cr Brown said that investing up front could lower, and in some cases eliminate, repair costs after future natural disasters.
“Poor and damaged rural roads cost everyone in the state. They slow down and damage farm and transport vehicles, pushing up the cost of labour and repairs – all of which is paid for with higher prices for food and other items at the supermarket and elsewhere,” she said.
“Road users in rural Victoria are over four times more likely to die on our roads than those in Melbourne. With flooding continuing to wash away and damage roads, it is time that a Victoria-wide roads emergency is declared.”
- The investment in urgent repairs and the betterment fund are additional to the road-funding requests in RCV’s State Election Platform – launched before the floods – which calls for:
- The reinstatement of the Fixing Country Roads program ($200 million over four years).
- An additional $200 million per year over four years for Regional Roads Victoria’s upgrade and maintenance program for the regional road network, and
- A total of $10 million per year over four years for roadside vegetation management and weed control on arterial roads.