NSW names panel to oversee road reclassification
JUST days after the opposition slammed them over inaction, the NSW Government has announced its expert panel to identify up to 15,000km of regional council-managed roads to hand back to the state.
In February 2019, the NSW Government announced more than $1b towards helping NSW councils manage roads, repair NSW's worst bridges and reclaim up to 15,000km of regional roads.
While Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has been putting pressure on the government on when it would deliver on the promise and how, NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole had yet to provide a time frame.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the new panel will conduct a review of the road classification framework and recommend roads for transfer to the State Government.
"This is about delivering on our election commitment to take the financial burden off local councils and ratepayers, and builds on the record investment we are making in roads in the bush," Mr Barilaro said.
"Everyone in a regional area has a story about a road that isn't up to scratch and turns their knuckles white when driving on it - and that isn't good enough.
"This project is even more important now, with the drought and bushfires heavily impacting regional councils. Road maintenance is something they shouldn't have to manage on their own."
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said former NRMA president Wendy Machin would chair the panel and would be supported by five other members with expertise and experience in roads, transport, engineering, local government and other sectors.
The members of the panel are:
•Ms Wendy Machin
•Mr Peter Duncan AM
•Ms Jillian Kilby
•Mr John Roydhouse
•Mr Michael Kilgariff
•Mr Peter Tegart
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said the panel announcement offers an important chance to enhance freight movement in NSW.
"ALC warmly welcomed the election commitment made by the NSW Government last year for the state to assume responsibility for up to 15,000km of roads currently managed by local councils," said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
"The initiative presents an opportunity to eliminate some of the inconsistencies, cost-shifting and administrative delays that arise by having different sections of the one road owned by multiple local councils.
"Smaller councils in regional areas often do not have the revenue base or the personnel required to maintain road infrastructure to the standard freight operators require to support the safe and efficient movement of goods through the supply chain."
Mr Coningham said moving key regional roads to state government management will also help to ensure that decisions around road access can be made promptly and applied consistently, so that freight movement is not needlessly delayed by administrative holdups.
"It will be important that the Expert Panel has a particular focus on freight transport as part of its remit.
"To that end, ALC is especially pleased that the Expert Panel will be chaired by former NRMA President Wendy Machin, who is widely respected throughout the road transport sector. We similarly welcome the appointment of former ALC Managing Director and now Roads Australia CEO Michael Kilgariff to the panel."