Federal stimulus must go beyond roads

Published on Tue 5 May 2020 12:06pm

It’s hard to think of a better delivery partner than local government, which is well-placed to prioritise community need and well-structured for the task of managing risk and securing value for money.

As the local federal representative I have been working with Councils across the Fremantle electorate to discuss the challenges they face at this time of extraordinary disruption, anxiety, and economic downturn.

While their present focus is on supporting the community, maintaining services, and assisting small and medium business, Councils are also looking to the future in terms of how local government can play the most effective role in a post-crisis recovery.

The Federal Government’s fast-tracking of local road infrastructure projects is certainly welcome, but expanding stimulus or recovery funding in partnership with local government to a wider range of small-to-medium scale capital works projects would be an effective way of boosting economic activity, business engagement, and jobs.

It’s hard to think of a better delivery partner than local government, which is well-placed to prioritise community need and well-structured for the task of managing risk and securing value for money.

There are well-designed and ‘shovel ready’ community projects on the books of the Cities of Cockburn, Fremantle, and Melville, and the Town of East Fremantle – all of which fall within the electorate of Fremantle – and these would enable local businesses and their workers to be quickly re-engaged in creating new facilities or other forms of amenity with lasting value.

Councils have a range of projects that are ready to go if funding support was provided. Among them are a major redevelopment of the Wally Hagan Sports & Recreation Centre in Hamilton Hill, the much-needed restoration of the Arthur Head precinct and the Roundhouse in Fremantle, and in East Fremantle the remediation of a large-scale drainage issue which is extensive, urgent, and impacts on the health of the Swan River.

These are examples of projects that would engage key workers and draw upon a range of local businesses and tradespeople in delivering a lasting community infrastructure benefit.

A Commonwealth-funded program that partners with local governments around Australia to deliver well-considered and job-oriented projects should be a key plank in recovery planning.

Last month I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, urging the Commonwealth to deliver a plan for our community that focuses on job creation through the revitalisation of critical public infrastructure.

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