A Wagga councillor has backed a new lobby group's call for billions of dollars to be pumped into fixing crumbling rural and regional roads, including a local thoroughfare labelled an "absolute death trap".
The Rural Roads Alliance - which includes the GrainGrowers, the National Farmers' Federation, Australian Local Government Association and Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association - has called on the federal government to spend $5.5 billion on road repairs.
The alliance told a parliamentary inquiry into the implications of severe weather events on the national regional, rural, and remote road network that natural disasters had left roads in a "dire" state. It said the economic and personal impacts of crumbling transport infrastructure warranted the emergency funding package.
The alliance is calling for a one-off injection of $1 billion over four years directed at regional road and infrastructure reconstruction for councils impacted by flooding and other natural disasters to ensure the rebuild is to a standard more resilient to future disaster events.
It also wants $800 million a year over four years for the Roads to Recovery Program, $300 million a year over four years to address first and last mile freight productivity, and targeted funding through the Roads of Strategic Importance program to improve the long-term climate resilience of freight networks.
Appearing before the inquiry last week, NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said roads were both a welfare and an economic issue.
"Severely damaged roads are dramatically increasing the time and cost of moving freight to and from our rural production centres," Mr Mahar said.
"It's holding back development of our regional communities and undermining safety and welfare for all users of country roads."
Wagga councillor Richard Foley welcomed the proposal and said "anyone with half a brain" could see funding was inadequate to meet the needs of local road repair.
"I've just come back from Sydney and couldn't believe how much infrastructure they had - we've got s--t out here," Cr Foley said.
"Even some of the roads people don't think of - like Brushwood Road is an absolute death trap at the moment.
Cr Foley said if the government adopted the Rural Roads Alliance proposal, his top priority would be trying to leverage technology and innovation to improve the speed of repairs and durability of roads.
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