Warren Truss.
Warren Truss. Contributed

Abbott concedes removal of council grants unpopular move

DESPITE conceding the Abbott government's removal of $925 million from grants to councils was an unpopular move, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has pledged not to "prolong" the pain.

Mr Truss told some 900 council officials in Canberra on Wednesday that despite the freeze on increases to financial assistance grants, there would be other money available.

Speaking at the Australian Local Government Association's national congress, Mr Truss reiterated the budgeted $2.5 billion for Roads to Recovery, as well as $300 million for bridge repairs over the five years.

However, as the High Court prepares to release its verdict on Toowoomba father Ron William's second challenge to the legality of the Commonwealth's grants system, he confirmed change may be needed.

The future of the Roads to Recovery funding - the major source of federal funding for local roads - could be jeopardised if the court decides for the second time to uphold Mr Williams's challenge.

But despite an urgent motion from councils facing the immediate effects of the removal of the $925 million worth of increases to FAGs for the government to reinstate the money, no changes are in the pipeline.

Mr Truss said the Commonwealth was asking local governments, through the budget, to help do their bit and that he had "no delight in looking at these measures".

He also told councils the funding for round one of the bridges renewal program and round four of the heavy vehicle safety program was now available.



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