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Bourke, Bre and Walgett Councils being ripped off?

Bre Shire Council workers Stephen Salt and Thomas Conroy working on the Kamilaroi Highway between Brewarrina and Walgett. Photo TWH

If you live in Bourke, you’re paying almost $1,000 more in rates than a resident of Mosman in Sydney’s North Shore but you’re much more likely to hit a pothole on your drive home.

This is the argument of Marion Terrill and Dominic Jones at The Grattan Institute who have crunched the numbers on the federal government’s main grants program, the Financial Assistance Grants, and found that it’s leaving councils like Bourke, Brewarrina, and Walgett much worse off.

The numbers are revealed in the Grattan’s Institute’s new report, Potholes and pitfalls: how to fix local roads, published on Sunday.

In the report, Councils like Bourke, Brewarrina, and Walgett are found to be over-burdened and under-resourced, yet the federal government is sending too much scarce funding to well-off areas like Mosman on Sydney’s lower North Shore.

As an example, Bourke Shire Council manages nearly 2,500 kilometres of roads, spread over a landmass of over 40,000 square kilometres. Meanwhile, Mosman Council maintains a road network just 90 kilometres long, over a land area of less than 10 square kilometres.

For remote councils like Bourke, it’s more expensive to provide other services too. The cost of basic responsibilities such as collecting bins and spraying weeds is higher when residents are spread far and wide. And remote councils often need to step in and provide key services like childcare at a loss when it is unprofitable for the private sector. […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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