A book just launched at the University of New England could not be any more timely or topical, with local councils facing infrastructure renewal backlogs that they cannot afford and many having recently been described as less than sustainable. The Federation Press published “Funding the Future – Financial Sustainability and Infrastructure Finance in Australian Local Government” was co-authored by Professor Brian Dollery, Dr Michael Kortt and Dr Bligh Grant, of the Centre for Local Government at UNE. Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall officially launched the new resource.
“This is a very important book,” Mr Marshall said. “It accurately and comprehensively encapsulates the plight of local government, nationally. It also looks at constructive ways to address the financial sustainability issues confronting our councils, as highlighted by the infrastructure backlog in NSW.”
“It’s great that the expertise for this book has come from regional universities because regional councils struggle with infrastructure cost burdens more starkly.”
Professor Brian Dollery said the book does not merely look at finance issues in councils. “We look at potential solutions. We assessed various proposals for dealing with endemic infrastructure backlogs and came up with our own proposal,” he said. “We present a case for a National Local Government Finance Authority. This authority would be guaranteed through Federal Government backing. It would be financed through the sale of bonds, loans from superannuation funds and the corporate sector. Interest on loans from this authority would be lower than bank financing. The cost burden of infrastructure renewal can be spread, cost-effectively, through time.”