UNSEALED roads throughout remote Australia, many of which have not been upgraded since the Great Depression, will be targeted by a new $150 million program launched by the federal government today.
The Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program will offer councils between 80 per cent and 100pc of funding to upgrade unsealed roads and improve safety with works including resurfacing, removing dangerous corners and managing vegetation.
"This is not about sealing roads; it is about making them safer," Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said.
"It is about putting down gravel to stop parents getting bogged in the rain when they drive their kids to school; it is about removing dangerous corners. Many of these remote roads haven't been touched since the Great Depression.
Mr Joyce said the Liberals and Nationals Government would partner with local government in delivering the new funding to address many neglected roads that were "out of sight" to most people.
Mr Joyce said guidelines for the new program would be released by the end of the year to target unsealed roads more than 20 kilometres long.
He said the road toll in regional communities was more than four times greater than in the major cities, and ten times greater in remote communities.
"There are 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the major cities; 10 deaths per 100,000 in regional areas; and 25.1 deaths per 100,000 in remote areas," Mr Joyce said.
"Our regional towns are the lifeblood of our nation, and every Australian deserves safe and efficient roads regardless of where they live.
"It is critical we ensure everyone has equitable access to local community centres including schools and medical care and that citizens are not cut off from their local townships due to the condition of roads."
The Government will work with local councils and state and territory jurisdictions to identify projects for funding under the new commitment.
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