ABC QLD Country Hour

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

Now staying with the Federal Government, it has announced a $1.8 billion support package for road and community projects.

$1.3 billion is funds bought forward as part of next financial year's financial assistance grant payment.

But the rest of it is new. Local government Minister Mark Coulton says the new $500 million local road and community infrastructure program will help local councils support jobs and businesses plus improve Road Safety.

He says the program will help local council stimulate their economies during the Coronavirus pandemic.

MARK COULTON

It's quite broad, but it is a stimulus and so it can be used on obviously constructing roads. But probably more importantly; local community infrastructure, fixing up painting at halls, maybe cycle ways or footpaths or something like that. The idea is to provide employment into individual, local towns and particularly those people who have been caught by the Coronavirus that found themselves out of work.

You know, maybe in the hospitality tourism sector that's done it particularly tough in the bush in the last couple of months and so, we've got a good relationship that Commonwealth does with local government.

And we think that's the best way to get a stimulus into each and the individual community.

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

Is this new money and where's it come from?

MARK COULTON

It's comes from the broader infrastructure budget, that's been budgeted over the next 10 years.

But it is it actually new money into this particular project and so it's not money that councils have been expecting, its extra money.

It is not designed to enable them to continue on with their normal work program. It is designed to construct new infrastructure and employ local people.

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

So it's over and above.

But in terms of the government spending, was it aligned with the roads to recovery money?

MARK COULTON

We use the roads to recovery formula because it's a tried and true formula, it recognises the different sizes of local governments, the 537 across Australia.

So that's the formula we've used and, and the payment is very similar to what a council would expect for their annual roads to recovery funding to be.

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

And so, administered via councils; are there any key stipulations for this new program?

MARK COULTON

There is obviously guidelines, but they're fairly broad.

We obviously want local councils to come up with their own projects that are important to them, but it would need to provide a stimulus to the economy.

It would need to have local procurement so that things are goods to purchase in local stores and it would need to have a longer effect than the time of the project. But, they can be things like from beautification of parks to more solid infrastructure to roads and so that after this project is completed, there will be a more permanent benefit to the community.

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

And when will this be available? This money be available?

MARK COULTON

The money will be available from early July, so we're encouraging councils, the guidelines will be emailed out to all councils today. They would be a little bit prepared for this because the Deputy Prime Minister did contact them back in early March and got them to be thinking about what sort of projects that they might find that would be useful to stimulate their local towns.

And so, you know, there is a considerable list, but that wasn't an application process, so they now can, that this money is there, can come up with their own list and priorities, and provided it’s within the very broad guidelines, they’ll be ticked off as quick as possible.

ARLIE FELTON-TAYLOR

That's Mark Coulton. He's the minister for Local Government, Regional Health and Regional Communications, speaking with me a little bit earlier.

Media contact:

Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920