Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton pictured with Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Mathew Dickerson.
Call for LRCI funding details to be released
I’m calling on the Labor Government to release the funding details for the next phase of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) program, to provide certainty to local councils as they plan their capital works budgets for the year.
When I was the Minister for Local Government, I helped implement the LRCI program in 2020 as a stimulus for local economies during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has proven to be one of the most beneficial programs for local councils and when I travel throughout the Parkes electorate, I can see the direct and indirect benefits the LRCI program has brought to our communities.
I was pleased when Labor committed an additional $250 million (on top of the $500 million previously budgeted by the former Coalition Government) in the 2022-23 October Budget.
However, local councils are still waiting to find out the amount of funding they can expect to receive, and the conditions attached to it, under Phase 4.
This is making it very difficult for our councils to plan their capital works budgets for the year ahead. Our councils will be even more reliant on this funding this year as they face millions of dollars in repair bills to fix local roads that have been damaged by the relentless rain and flooding.
I call on the Labor Government to write to every council advising exactly what funding they will receive from the LRCI program to enable councillors and staff to get on with the job.
Heavy vehicle safety grants on offer
There are only a few weeks left for those in the heavy vehicle industry to apply for crucial project funding through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI).
Approximately $4 million is available under Round 8 of the HVSI to support industry-led projects that address an existing issue for the transport and logistics sector and all road users.
I encourage councils, industry and community groups in the Parkes electorate with a tangible project idea to apply for this funding to help keep heavy vehicles moving safely and efficiently.
Submissions close at 5pm on Monday 20 February. For more information on the HVSI program, including the submission process and eligibility, visit www.nhvr.gov.au/hvs.
Assistance for tertiary students
With many young people in the electorate about to head off to university, I thought it was timely to highlight the financial assistance available to those who wish to further their studies.
The costs associated with attending tertiary education in another town or city is often the biggest barrier for students from our regional, rural and remote areas. The former Coalition Government recognised this and implemented a number of improvements to eligibility criteria to ensure more students from regional Australia could access tertiary education without having to face the financial barrier.
A range of assistance is available to students including Youth Allowance for students and Australian Apprentices, Austudy, ABSTUDY, the Student Start-up Loan, the Tertiary Assistance Payment and the Relocation Scholarship. Eligibility criteria for each of these payments varies, so it is important to contact Services Australia before starting a claim.
For more information about financial assistance for tertiary students, visit: www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/education or call the youth and students line on 132 490.