Pushing for Roads to Recovery-style funding to help communities stay on their feet in drought is one action item from Friday’s national drought summit.
That’s according to Tamworth region deputy mayor Phil Betts, who attended the Canberra event with a local government perspective.
Cr Betts said the summit – involving the Prime Minister and deputy, state and federal agriculture ministers, premiers, farming group leaders, bank executives, non-profit leaders and more – had been “excellent”.
He’d had one-on-one talks with many decision-makers and brought them one “key message”: we need infrastructure projects.
Local government already had “credibility” for results under the federally funded Roads to Recovery, he said.
“Using that model, we can deliver infrastructure programs very, very quickly to alleviate the effects of the drought in the short term and also in the recovery phase when the drought does break.”
He said the reception was “very, very favourable [and] the Prime Minister ... indicated that that was certainly the sort of model they would implement”.
Read more: $5bn drought future fund headlines summit
Cr Betts said some project examples could be creating cycleways or footpaths, or upgrading local halls.
“The idea of it is to engage local contractors, to continue their profitability through the drought ... and farmers that need income as well, off-farm,” he said.
“[Our council will] be working with the Australian Local Government Association to further communicate to the federal government our capability to achieve these outcomes … delivering infrastructure using that model.”
The business chamber had collated case studies for the summit, many employers “looking at any incentive that the government might be able to provide in assistance with salaries and subsidies”, president Jye Segboer said.
He also said local projects were vital, as well as “making sure [they] pick up trades and services, and ensuring businesses were used locally instead of bringing in people from out of town”.