Annual Local Roads Congress in Alice Springs
The announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, the Hon Warren Truss MP via video to the National Local Roads and Transport Congress (‘the Congress’) in Alice Springs on 13 November 2013 of funding for the Outback Way was welcome. The government will fund $11M for three years and councils from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland will use this Commonwealth Government commitment as leverage to attract dollar for dollar funding from State and Territory Governments to bring greater resources to the project and enhance its completion. The Outback Way links Perth with Cairns and cuts some 1500km off the journey over roads current sealed roads between the two locations.
The significance of local government having access to debt at costs that are affordable was discussed at the Congress. The financing of transport infrastructure including the problematic area of regional airports (50% operate at a loss) in Australia were also dealt with. Many of these airports are owned and operated by local governments with councils struggling to keep up their commitments with them particularly in light of reduced airline competition, the haphazard nature of route networks for aircraft and the increased costs of compliance.
Business models for regional airports including case examples from overseas were mentioned. Most airports now charge a ‘head tax’ for passengers, landing charges, including those for defence aircraft, aircraft parking, advertising and leasing of property were also mentioned as revenue sources. The greatest expenditure cost identified was that of compliance required by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Aviation strategies for each State and Territory were proposed as potential solutions as is the need for councils to develop master plans with a strong emphasis on land use planning to cater for potential growth. Councils were advised to gather empirical evidence in line with current asset management practices as a means of aggregating data which could be used to engage with other spheres of government.
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