Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP says the Labor Government has turned its back on communities in Barker with important funding programs either scrapped or under threat.


“Regional Australia is more than just a food and fibre bowl, it is home to millions of hard-working Australians who make a significant contribution to our economy, our national identity, our culture and way of life. At the heart of regions like Barker are tight knit communities who deserve respect and support,” Mr Pasin said.


“While the former Coalition Government focused heavily on local capacity building by targeting funding to grassroots community organisations and Local Government, the Labor Government is taking a highly centralised, ‘Canberra knows best’ attitude, a hallmark of Labor Ministers who don’t understand how small communities or regional road networks operate.”


In the 2023 Budget the Albanese Government has scrapped:


Regional Airport program – a competitive grants program that has delivered funding of more than $1 million across Barker in recent years to upgrade to airports at Loxton, Waikerie, Mount Gambier, Meningie, Renmark, Kingston SE and Tintinara.


Stronger Communities Program (SCP) – Since 2016 has provided grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities. The SCP committed funding to over 15,000 community–based projects across Australia. Community led projects across Barker have shared in $1,200,000.


Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) – Across five rounds, the former Coalition Government provided $1.38 billion through nearly 1,300 projects to ensure our regions remain great places to live and visit, while helping support important regional industries create jobs.


Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program – $3.25 billion supported all Australian councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects in their region, creating jobs and long-lasting benefits for communities.


While scrapping important grant funding programs the Labor Government has also neglected to support local Government with any increase to the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). FAGs are provided directly to councils for general purpose and local roads.


The 2023 Federal Budget saw Financial Assistance Grants cut as a percentage of tax revenue from 0.52% to 0.50% in stark contrast to councils’ long-term aim of achieving 1.0% of tax revenue.


Furthermore, in disturbing revelations in Senate Estimates this week, the Roads to Recovery program, the Bridges Renewal Program, Black Spot Program & Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program are all now at risk of being axe under Labor’s 90-day infrastructure pipeline review.


The Bridges Renewal Program, established in 2015/16, is a Coalition Government initiative. Up to $85 million per year is provided to fund the upgrade and replacement of bridges to enhance access for local communities and facilitate higher productivity vehicle access. Particularly important for our agricultural freight network, it’s a ‘first mile initiative’.


The program has funded local projects such as;


  • Stockwell Road Bridge Upgrade over North Para River, at Light Pass ($418,696)
  • Two bridge culvert crossings on Moy Hall Rd, Naracoorte ($170,000)
  • Victoria Parade Bridge Replacement over Tatiara Creek – ($210,000)


The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) provides up to $65 million per year to fund infrastructure projects that improve the productivity and safety outcomes of heavy vehicle operations across Australia.

The program has funded local projects such as;


  • Upgrades to reconstruct 6.3km of existing pavements on Cypress Terrace, Maurice Rd, Hindmarsh Rd and Old Swanport Rd and upgrade five intersections along the Murraylands freight route to meet B-Double (HML) standards – $2,462,000
  • Riddoch Highway (Penola Road) intersection with Wandilo Forest Road / Ridge Road – $710,000.00
  • Taplan Road Livestock and Grain Productivity Project (Loxton Waikerie) Construction and sealing Taplan Road enabling its gazettal for B Double HML and PBS Level 2 – $1,020,000.00
  • Stockwell Road and Penrice Road Intersection – $750,000
  • Kapunda Heavy Vehicle Detour (East Terrace) – $1,900,000.00


The Black Spot Program has been fixing dangerous sections of road continuously since 1996-97 under the Howard Government.

$110 million each year targets road locations where crashes are occurring or are at risk of occurring. By funding measures such as traffic signals and roundabouts at dangerous locations, the program reduces the risk of crashes.


The program has funded local projects such as;

  • Roundabout at the intersection of Greenock Road and Samuel Road and Moppa Road, Nuriootpa – $1,950,000
  • Safety improvements along a 4km section of Naracoorte Rd from Riddoch Hwy – Keppoch – $1,301,991.00
  • Sturt Highway and Holder Top Road intersection, Waikerie – $1,520,000
  • Ruwolt Road and Yahl Road intersection at Yahl   – $235,000


“If the Albanese Government is looking for savings with their “independent” Review into road funding, they are looking in the wrong places and should categorically rule out terminating these programs that literally save lives.”


“The Federal Labor Government has turned its back on our local communities and is ripping funding from grassroots organisations and local councils and recklessly created uncertainty about the future of road safety investments to pay for their strategy for a big, centralised government.”


“Labor simply don’t understand the regions and our small communities,” Mr Pasin said.


Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8724 7730