The Australian and NSW Governments have joined forces to turbocharge a program which will improve local roads in New England and create more jobs in the region.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall today announced a $16,498,778 funding package for 19 projects in the Gwydir, Tenterfield, Inverell, Moree Plains, Glen Innes Severn and Uralla Shire local government areas.
The funding was made available through the first round of the NSW Government's $500 million Fixing Local Roads program, of which the Australian government has contributed $191 million.
In this round, Inverell Shire received $2.6 million, which will go towards eight projects, including maintenance of Copeton Dam Road, Coolatai Road, Bukkulla Road, Mount Russell Road, Elsmore Road, Pindari Dam Road, Gragin Road and the asphalt paving of Old Bundarra Road.
Gwydir Shire Council also received $5 million for the sealing of Horton Road.
Mr Marshall said the major funding injection would act as a giant economic stimulus for the region, allowing councils to bring forward road projects they already had on their books or start new works they did not have the finances to undertake.
"These 19 projects will help generate and retain jobs, helping our region to rebuild and recover from the effects of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19," Mr Marshall said.
"This is a massive win for our local councils and for everyone in the community who can look forward to better quality and ultimately safer travels.
"These projects will also be instrumental in getting our agricultural sector and rural communities back on their feet after years of hardship.
"I don't think anyone will mind the inconvenient of road works over the next little while, knowing that the end result is going to be higher quality local roads.
Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the funding is to ensure even more regional communities benefit faster.
"This is about getting shovels in the ground on local construction projects to maintain jobs and economic growth in New England," Mr Joyce said.
"Every single job that we support makes a huge difference and will ensure we have the safe transport connections needed to keep moving now, and as we navigate out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Australian Government's funding injection was about generating jobs, encouraging spending and stimulating local economies.
"The injection will see $382 million of joint funding allocated to shovel-ready projects able to start in the next 12 months, driving an estimated 3,500 jobs in regional NSW," he said said.
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the NSW Government was also accelerating its funding for the program to get more projects to seal, maintain and repair local roads under way faster.
"We're not just putting our foot down in terms of delivering this package - we're turbocharging it to ensure we create jobs and create better journeys on the roads that really matter to local communities," he said.
Mr Marshall said he viewed today's funding splurge as an indication of things to come.
"This is only the first round of this program, with many more to come in the next two years," he said.
"Today, our region secured $16.5 million - just imagine what we can scoop up in future funding rounds and the good it will do for our region's roads and the local economy.
"These works will mean smoother, safer trips along the roads our community use every day to conduct business, transport their produce to market and get their children to school.
"In this COVID-19 world every job matters and so next time you are stuck on any road works take the time to notice the local faces employed on these important projects.
"I'll continue to work with all of our region's local councils, not just on the delivery of these exciting projects, but looking ahead to the next round for more funding to upgrade even more roads."
Projects will need to be delivered within two years of receiving funding, to ensure that local communities are benefiting sooner.
The initiative is part of the Federal Government's $1.5 billion infrastructure stimulus package.