The state of rural roads has been thrown into the limelight recently with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) speaking out about rural transport infrastructure claiming it is not up to scratch and has been an ongoing issue for some landholders.
Many rural landholders battle with ungraded and dangerous roads on a daily basis.
Craig and Susan McFetridge, Don Campion and Phil and Judi Thompson of Gilgandra Shire have been publicly requesting council to grade the roads around their properties since last year.
“They sometimes gravel a section and then don’t maintain it and you’re left with bit rocks on the middle of the road,” Mr McFetridge said.
The McFetridges are appalled because rural landholders pay the highest rates and get the least services.
“Rural landholders are paying 76 per cent,” Mrs McFetridge said.
NFF president, Brent Finlay has said in order for Australian farmers to remain competitive, rural transport infrastructure, including roads, must be up to scratch.
A report, the National Road Asset Reporting Pilot, reaffirms the need to develop mechanisms to attract private investment in rural roads, providing a much-needed boost for limited public funds.
“The report reiterates a lack of public investment in rural roads, limiting the efficiency of agricultural freight flows,” Mr Finlay said.
“Farmers do their best to maximise efficiency on farm and after food and fibre leaves the farm gate much of this value can be lost to inefficiencies in the transport system.”
Mr Thompson said the farmers on their road agreed to a council rate rise in previous years in order to get the roads graded.
“We only agreed to a rate rise to grade roads and they haven’t done it,” he said.
Combined, Mr and Mrs McFetridge, Mr Campion and Mr Thompson pay about $130,000 in rates a year.
“You can buy a good grader for $110,000” Mr McFetridge said.
Mr Thompson has appealed to the state government for help, writing to Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries.
“We’ve sent a petition in to Kevin Humphries,” he said.
Mr Finlay believes the federal government will start taking an interest now the report has been published.
“As a key pillar in the Australian economy, we will be expecting agriculture to be prioritised on the federal government’s national infrastructure and the measures in place that promote private investment to complement the government commitments,” he said.
Landholders across the region are hoping the National Road Asset Reporting Pilot will indicate how the current conditions of some roads impact on their livelihood.
o Zoe Westgarth believes it’s time rural roads became a priority.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.