Sky First Edition

PETER STEFANOVIC:

The Federal Government has announced a $1.8 billion boost in funding for local councils to fast track projects to support jobs during the Coronavirus crisis. $500 million will be spent on local roads and community infrastructure while $1.3 billion in financial assistance grants will be brought forward.

Well, joining me now to discuss this is Minister for Regional Health and Local Government Mark Coulton. Mark, good morning to you, thanks for much for joining us.

So, how do you decide who gets what here?

MARK COULTON:

Good morning Peter. Thank you.

So, the funding is along the guidelines of the Roads to Recovery Program. There is a formula that is across the 537 councils, so not exactly the same as the funding they get for the Roads to Recovery but that’s the formula that was used to distribute the money fairly.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, what’s the modelling on how much or how many jobs this may create?

MARK COULTON:

Look it’ll depend on different areas.

The scheme is quite broad, so it can be infrastructure like roads but in some areas, it might be more labor-intensive type activities, community infrastructure and the like and obviously the idea is for the Commonwealth Department with local government to provide that stimulus.

People are looking to get out and find work and so through this program we’re hoping that jobs will be created in local areas by local government.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Okay. What guarantees can the government give that the system won’t be rorted like the Sports Grant Scheme?

MARK COULTON:

So it’s not competitive. Every council knows exactly how much money they’re going to get at the start and the guidelines are quite broad but they will need to be ticked off by the Commonwealth before they’re undertaken.

We have a good relationship with local government, we trust local government, we’ve gone to them before through stimulus for drought, bushfires, floods and the like, so we’re very confident that local government will choose projects that suit their communities and I think it’s probably the best way we can actually get stimulus into individual communities is through local government.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

So, does every council get the same amount or does the size of the amount depend on the size of the council?

MARK COULTON:

Yeah, the amount is decided by the formula that's used for Roads to Recovery, so it's not every Council gets the same amount.

You know there's big variation in the size of councils, but they will have an idea of what they're getting because it'll be on the same guidelines as the Roads to Recovery formula.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Right. So essentially, the money gets handed out to councils and then they do the spending? Is that how it works?

MARK COULTON:

Yeah that's exactly how it works, So the money will be available from early July.

Councils will submit their projects there will be a pretty quick turnaround to get them ticked off.

They can be as I said from community infrastructure projects that have a high level of local employment.

Obviously, local procurement is important and then councils will get on with the job of implementing those projects over the next 12 months.

PETER STEFAOVIC:

Okay, so that's when it begins? Anytime over the next 12 months?

MARK COULTON:

Yeah, we'll have that money available in a month's time. A little bit more in July and obviously we'd like to get this going quickly as possible.

It is a stimulus. It is designed to get local communities up and running and I think that people will be very keen to take part in it and I think councils from my conversations that I've had so far about what they would like to do are very keen.

The Deputy Prime Minister wrote to councils back in March asking them to think about projects that would be suitable to provide a stimulus for their local regions and so there's already a lot of work done by councils because they've been asked to actually be prepared for something like this coming.

PETER STEFANOVIC:

Okay, Minister for Regional Health and Local Government Mark Coulton appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for joining us.

Media Contact:

Mr Coulton – Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920