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Athletics legend de Castella says community infrastructure a key asset

Athletics legend de Castella says community infrastructure a key asset
June 21, 2016

Community infrastructure is an asset that plays a key role in promoting active lifestyles in communities and Australians should find more ways to utilise it to encourage healthy living, former World Champion marathon runner and Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Robert de Castella AO MBE, has said on the third day of the National General Assembly of Local Government today (21st June).

In his speech, De Castella (pictured below) explained “through my involvement in different projects such as the Canberra bushfire recovery taskforce after the 2003 bushfires, I could see the value in not just replacing community infrastructure, but also in how it could be used to make communities a better place for healthy and active lifestyles.

“We need to find ways to make it easier for people to be active – particularly our youth – and improving our community infrastructure, such as sporting fields, running tracks, bike paths and parks, and making them more accessible and appealing offers a way to do this.”

Mayor Troy Pickard, President of the Australian Local Government Association, said that well-located, well-designed and properly-maintained community infrastructure enhances the quality of life and enriches the experience of citizens every day, but that a significant proportion of Australia's local community infrastructure is currently at risk of disrepair.

Mayor Pickard stated “the 2015 National State of the Assets: Roads and Community Infrastructure Report estimated that 11% - or around $27 billion - of community infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition and in need of replacement, maintenance or upgrades, with some infrastructure being physically unsound or beyond rehabilitation.

“These findings show that councils do not have the financial resources to bring community infrastructure up to a reasonable condition and are facing the ongoing challenge of a decades-long backlog and underspend on community infrastructure, which has limited their capacity to contribute to important social and regional policy outcomes.

“More Federal Government support is needed to restore our community infrastructure and I urge political parties this election to support ALGA’s Local Government Community Infrastructure Program of $300 million per annum for five years to fund the renewal and maintenance of existing community infrastructure.

“In many cases, community infrastructure projects are either already planned, or planning is well advanced, and only funding is required for the projects to commence.

“Not only would this program stimulate local economic opportunities by creating an estimated 3,700 new jobs by the program’s third year and boost the nation’s economy by adding $1.41 billion to GDP over three years, it would also ensure that our communities’ most important infrastructure can continue to underpin community wellbeing and community resilience.”

The National General Assembly of Local Government is being held in Canberra from 19th to 22nd June. Click here for more information.

Top image courtesy of Polytan.

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