COROWA mayor Fred Longmire has backed the view of his Albury counterpart Kevin Mack that being a safe Liberal seat meant state funding was scarce.
Cr Longmire said there was really no joy in this week’s state budget for Corowa, which would just have to keep doing its best to provide services to residents.
“We’re a long way from Sydney and it’s difficult to get funding,” he said.
Cr Longmire said while some rural areas had declining populations, they were still strong contributors to the state’s economic health through agriculture.
He said Corowa’s network of rural roads were increasingly being used to deliver that valuable produce to markets.
Cr Longmire said that gave greater credence to the argument for better funding by state and federal governments for rural roads.
Earlier this year the NRMA revealed Corowa Shire alone had a $23 million roads infrastructure backlog.
Cr Longmire said the demographics of the shire had changed, with a lot of properties becoming much bigger.
“The decline in the number of people who live out in the rural areas is unbelievable,” he said.
“Every second and sometimes third home has no one living in it.”
Cr Longmire said there were corporate entities and other family based companies that had put together large tracts of land.
“The people aren’t living in the bush,” he said.
“The bigger thing though is the need to service the roads, not for the traffic that used to be there, but for the producers of these commodities.
“That’s so they can get their produce, at all times of the year, for delivery.”
The council hopes to alleviate some of its maintenance burden by having two of the major roads in its area reclassified as state roads.
Cr Longmire said the Hopefield Road — from the turnoff at the Riverina Highway, just out of Corowa — was now a major feeder link for national transport companies heading to the Wagga region.
Also, the council wants the government to reclassify the section of the Riverina Highway heading from Corowa towards Finley because of the “enormous” amount of traffic it carried.
Cr Longmire said the council would just have to accept it had to do most of the work required in the shire.
“There’s a lot of things that we’ve been out in the community with, regarding our budget, which we’ll adopt next Tuesday at a special meeting,” he said.