By Mitchell Clarke
Cardinia Shire Council will receive almost $1.7 million in Federal Government funding to boost “priority” road and community projects.
The funding forms part of a $1.8 billion package aimed at supporting local jobs and businesses by boosting the local Cardinia economy, which has taken a hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than $7 million alone will be distributed across seven councils in Melbourne’s southeast.
Cardinia Shire Council was allocated $1,691,139, while the Casey City Council is set to receive $1,633,695 and the City of Greater Dandenong will get $1,017,807.
Funding allocations were calculated by taking into consideration road length and population.
The Gazette contacted Cardinia Shire Council to ask what type of projects the funding would be spent on.
According to the Federal Government, the money should be used to make improvements to road projects, such as constructing bridges and tunnels, improving street lightening or building heavy vehicle facilities.
The cash can also be put towards new bike and walking paths or picnic shelters and barbecue facilities at local parks.
Victorian Senator David Van said he would work alongside the councils to ensure projects were underway as soon as possible.
“Every single job we support makes a huge difference in our local communities, now and as we navigate out of the coronavirus pandemic,” Senator Van said.
“Not only will this package support jobs, construction businesses and the economy across southeast Melbourne, it will improve our local roads and provide for new and upgraded amenities to help communities stay connected.”
It’s understood $500 million of the funding is part of a new Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program, while the remaining $1.3 billion has come from the 2020-21 Financial Assistance Grant Program.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding would provide assistance to local governments, who had been playing a “critical role” throughout the pandemic.
“Our funding boost will help councils accelerate priority projects that will employ locally and support local business,” the Prime Minister said.
“These projects will cut travel times, make our communities safer and upgrade the facilities we all enjoy while also getting more people into jobs.”
Ratepayers Victoria (RPV) said whilst they welcomed the funding announcement, “it will do nothing” to ease the rates burden on homes and businesses.
“There is no ‘rates offset’ condition attached to the funding so it will simply improve existing state and local council infrastructure and enable councils to use their normal funding for other items of their choosing,” RPV president Dean Hurlston said.
“The Federal Government is simply funding the improvement of state assets and it seems to be a ‘political stunt’ to keep up with Daniel Andrews. There is no meaningful benefit to ratepayers whatsoever in this.
“What would be welcome is some genuine rates relief or a pool of funding to further assist genuine ratepayer hardship.”
Guidelines for the program will be provided directly to local governments by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.