Flood damage sparks call for road funding shake-up

Regional roads need to be upgraded, maintained better and have funding refocused to help the nation deal with natural disasters such as major flooding.

They were some of the findings of a parliamentary inquiry that recommended the government review financial assistance grants for road funding and maintenance, following widespread flooding in 2022.

The committee's final report made 26 recommendations, which included better consultation with local councils on priorities for road upgrades.

The committee's chair, Labor MP Luke Gosling, said damage to many regional roads at the height of flood disasters had a significant flow-on effect to communities.

Road damage at Sea Cliff Bridge, north of Wollongong
A parliamentary committee has called for better funding to improve roads.

"Communities were isolated and displaced, some for weeks and months,'' he said.

"National freight supply chains were disrupted, with lengthy diversions to deliver essential goods.

"Australia's climate is changing. The magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events is predicted to increase including more heat extremes, droughts, intense rainfall and floods."

Independent MP Helen Haines, who also served on the committee, said regional roads needed to be improved.

"The federal government must implement these recommendations in full," she said.

"With more than 75 per cent of Australia's road network owned and maintained by local governments, it is important that local people have a say in the planning of how we can build back better following natural disasters."

The MP said many local councils had been struggling with the mounting repair jobs to roads in regional areas following flooding and landslides.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said upgrades to roads were crucial, given regional roads were over-represented in statistics for crashes and fatalities.

"Where we have seen significant upgrades done, there have been safety benefits and improvements," he told AAP.

"We need to make sure that we're using data effectively to identify where the trouble spots are to prioritise funding."

Mr Khoury backed calls from the report urging the federal government to reprioritise regional road funding.

"We continue to collect record funding from the fuel excise and pay GST on top of it ... and we absolutely should make regional funding a priority," he said.

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