Imagine all local and regional roads throughout NSW improved to a satisfactory level.
That’s at the heart of a Labor promise of $900million over five years should it win the upcoming state election.
Labor spokesman for regional roads Peter Primrose was in Bega on Wednesday to help announce the election pledge and to speak with the mayor and general manager about local roads funding.
He said his party’s commitment and dollar figure was based on a recent report by the NRMA highlighting the state of council-administered roads across NSW.
“It’s the NRMA’s recommendation, but we looked at that report, we did our own calculations and said ‘yes, we will support that, we think it’s vitally important’,” Mr Primrose told the Bega District News.
"Three weeks ago NRMA released their report into the backlog of maintenance on council roads and how dangerous that is.
“Councils can’t keep up and local and regional roads are just getting worse. Councils can’t plan ahead when year to year they have to find funding.
“We’re guaranteeing this funding, we’re not allowed to announce anything that hasn’t been ticked off by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.”
Mr Primrose and Labor’s candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson said the $900million would be sourced from redirecting money slated for roads in Sydney.
“What stands out for me is the city-country divide is getting bigger,” Ms Atkinson said.
“A lot is being spent in Sydney at the expense of regional areas like Bega and I want it redirected.”
Mr Primrose said, in line with NRMA recommendations, the current state spending of $542million over five years with a focus on trucking and freight was “vital”, but that Labor would add to that the $900million for council roads in ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ condition.
“We’re not picking individual roads – we’re saying every road,” Mr Primrose said.
“This will hopefully make it safer for families, for taking kids to school, for ambulances to get access to those who need urgent attention – that is why we are making this commitment.”
The NRMA outlined in its report released in January that regional roads in NSW are “of the utmost importance in the short term” to improve safety, “with a disproportionate number of reported crashes”.
“Over the period 2013-17, the regional and local roads network accounted for 68.9 per cent of all fatalities and 77.6 per cent of all injuries, costing the NSW economy $3.9billion,” the NRMA report, Funding Local Roads, stated.
“This over-representation of crashes...requires immediate attention
“Throughout regional NSW, $300million worth of works is required to replace roads classified as ‘very poor,’ with a further $600million required to replace roads classified as ‘poor.’
This $900million investment would bring all regional roads up to ‘satisfactory’ condition, meaning, according to assessment criteria, that only ongoing infrastructure maintenance is required.”