Councils receive $1.8b package for roads

Matt Coughlan
Councils will share in $1.8 billion federal funding for roads and other projects amid coronavirus

Councils will share in $1.8 billion for road upgrades and local projects to help communities battling the impact of coronavirus.

The federal government has brought forward $1.3 billion in assistance grants to local governments from next financial year.

A further $500 million has been injected into a new program for roads and other infrastructure upgrades, with that money coming from the government's $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack insists the program won't be the next "sports rorts" - an infamous grants scheme found to have favoured coalition-targeted seats before the election.

Money will be allocated based on the length of a council's road network and population.

"It is a formula worked out a long time ago by the department; very accountable, very transparent," Mr McCormack told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

The federal Nationals leader described local councils as the first tier of government.

Grants will flow from July 1, with roads, refurbishing town halls and other small-scale upgrades among the projects expected to be funded.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Labor had been calling for the council funding for a long time.

"Local government is in a position to roll out projects efficiently and they have many shovel-ready projects," he told reporters in Sydney.

He wants to see more money for bushfire-affected areas, saying some disaster-hit councils received $1 million in recovery funding.

"That is clearly an inadequate response," Mr Albanese said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the money would help councils accelerate priority projects to boost local jobs.

"These projects will cut travel times, make our communities safer and upgrade the facilities we all enjoy while also getting more people into jobs," he said on Friday.

"We know this is going to be vital support, particularly for councils that have faced the combined impacts of drought, bushfires and now COVID-19."