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The ALGA's National State of the Asset's report showing local road and bridge assets are deteriorating at a rate that poses safety risks and inhibits productivity is another wake up call for government to urgently address this vital issue.

GrainGrowers welcomed the report and said it focused on the serious issues facing local government as it struggles to maintain its asset base of roads and bridges.

The report found that an astounding $23.1bn of local roads are in poor condition, with unsealed roads, predominantly in regional areas, are under real pressure. Of these, 48% were rated to be in only poor to fair condition.

Bridges are also under pressure, with the report suggesting that 18% of timber bridges and 6% of concrete bridges are in poor condition. The estimated replacement cost to bring them up to the standard of modern transport fleets is $365 million and $1.7b, respectively.

GrainGrowers Policy Manager, Trade and Supply Chains, Annabel Mactier stressed that a well-maintained road network was vital for the efficient and safe transportation of grain.

Ms Mactier said the report highlights the failure of the current road funding model.

"Despite managing nearly 77% of the road network, local governments do not raise direct revenues from road users apart from parking fees in some instances. The current funding model places significant pressure on rural councils, with damaged and deteriorating roads and bridges threatening both the grain industry's economic productivity and the safety of rural communities."

Ms Mactier said rural councils in grain-growing regions across Australia often face significant challenges in managing and maintaining extensive road networks due to increasing climate variability, funding challenges (including low numbers of ratepayers), and long-term cost shifting.

"Increased climate variability, including events such as floods, bushfires, and drought in regional areas, is having a significant impact on unsealed local rural roads, which were not designed to withstand the intensity and frequency of severe climate events."

"As roads and bridges deteriorate, there is a direct impact on industry productivity and safety."

"Poor road and bridge conditions can force temporary speed restrictions or weight limits. These restrictions don't reduce the total freight task, as grain must still be transported from the paddocks for growers to make a livelihood and our grain to make its way to consumers.”

“This results in growers making more trips in smaller trucks, reducing efficiency and increasing the overall costs of transporting grain," she said.

GrainGrowers recently released its National Grain Freight Strategy which is a practical road map for government to help drive Australia's global competitiveness.

Improving regional roads is a key pillar of the strategy with some of the short-term priorities including: the development of state-based grain freight strategies; increased funding to direct funding mechanisms such as the Roads to Recovery Program; funding to critical grain freight routes under the Infrastructure Investment Program; and elevating the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy's governance structures to a National Cabinet priority to increase resourcing and accountability.


GrainGrowers Media Contact:

Chris Rowley, Media Manager

P: 0415 140 253 | ua.moc.sreworgniarg@yelwor.sirhc