Federal funding boost for Blue Mountains council of $900,000 to tackle fires, COVID-19

Blue Mountains Council will receive almost $900,000 in federal funding to support local jobs and businesses as the economy struggles back to life after the effects of COVID-19 and bushfires.

Boost: Local roads set to receive a boost with extra federal government money.

Boost: Local roads set to receive a boost with extra federal government money.

It is part of the Morrison government's $1.8 billion boost for road and community projects to local governments across Australia.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator Marise Payne, said the $869,182 package included the establishment of a new $500 million Local Road and Community Infrastructure program and the bringing forward of $1.3 billion of the 2020-21 financial assistance grant payment.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said the council was deeply grateful for the money but would continue to need government support after unprecedented circumstances.

And MP For Macquarie Susan Templeman called it a "modest program ... $500 million is significantly less than what Labor allocated to local government infrastructure projects during the Global Financial Crisis, but I nevertheless welcome any additional funds for Blue Mountains Council to use in upgrading roads and infrastructure".

Ms Templeman added the economic crisis of the scale of COVID-19 required "a genuine plan for recovery, particularly for areas like ours that are so reliant on international tourism and had no chance to recover from bushfires before the pandemic struck".

Senator Payne said accelerating 'ready to rollout' local infrastructure projects is important for supporting jobs and the local economy, particularly following the 2019-20 bushfires. The new program is based on the Roads to Recovery program to help councils deliver priority projects with a focus on upgrades and maintenance to local roads and community infrastructure

More funding for Buttenshaw Park?

More funding for Buttenshaw Park?

"This significant new funding boost will assist council to deliver local road projects and community infrastructure which will help the Blue Mountains economy to rebound after what has been a very difficult six months," Senator Payne said.

"Importantly, this funding is on top of the $1.3 million council have already received in response to the bushfires. This is further important on-the-ground support for the community."

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill thanked the minister and the government, and said council would "continue to work with them".

"This is a time for levels of government to work together and we welcome these funds.

"While we are deeply grateful ... our community will need ongoing assistance moving forward."

Cr Greenhill said while the amount was generous, the scale of economic damage to the region was "enormous and will require ongoing stimulus even beyond what we have received".

Cr Greenhill said council would "keep the government informed on the further economic needs of the Blue Mountains as we strive to recover from the unprecedented circumstances we have experienced over the recent difficult period".

Senator Payne said she was looking forward to working closely with the council to make sure projects get under way as soon as possible.

Local road projects to be delivered under the program include but are not limited to constructing or improving bridges and tunnels, street lighting, and heavy vehicle facilities such as rest areas. A broad range of community infrastructure projects will be eligible including new or upgraded bicycle and walking paths, community facilities, and picnic shelters and BBQ facilities at parks.

Under the Financial Assistance Grant program Blue Mountains City Council has been allocated $8,907,139 for the 2019-20 financial year. Guidelines for the program will be provided by the Department of Infrastructure and council will need to complete all project works by June 30 next year.