Formative Academic Essay Example

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Commonwealth Responsibilities for Funding Road Transport in Australia

Commonwealth Responsibilities for Funding Road Transport in Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia consists of six states, two mainlands and a number of offshore territories (Lindell 2005, p.211). The constitution of Australia institutes a federal system of government. Commonwealth has a very huge involvement in funding various infrastructure projects in Australia inclusive of public transport in the country (James 1993, p.142). This board provides grant payment to both the States as well as local governments. The level of Commonwealth road funding stays on contentious. They have long been involved in both provisions of road as well as their funding. This essay will highlight whether Commonwealth has the ability to take over responsibility for funding public transport in Australia.

The Commonwealth has shown great capabilities in terms of their assistance to the States and local governments. They do this by topping up funds provided by the government. From the year 1990, Commonwealth has helped fund three programs namely: the Black Spot, Rural Highways and Provincial Cities (National Building Program 2013, p. 54). Since then, the Commonwealth has been rationalizing its funding and currently funds only national roads commonly referred to as National Highway Systems. In addition, Commonwealth also offers general assistance to the States as well as the local governments (Sims 2007, p. 12). This assistance can be utilized for various purposes, most commonly used on roads. This clearly justifies the capability of Commonwealth in taking responsibility in funding of the public transport in Australia.

Commonwealth’s position in funding the public roads in Australia has been contentious. This has also brought about numerous political tussles within the country (Wanna and Arklay 2010, p.51). This has become so since road provision in Australia has become partly contentious due to the connection of both large distances and a rather small population. This has brought about the featuring of promises about road provision in almost every elections campaign (Sims 2007, p.33). In addition, the organization of the government also plays a role in complicating matters regarding road provision. Countless disputes have arisen by regarding the level of funding as well as the appointing of funding responsibilities; for example, the dispute that existed between Commonwealth and NWS Governments about the designation of the proposed Western Sidney orbital road (Wanna and Arklay 2010, p.51).

Therefore, Commonwealth intended to fully fund the project if the road could be assigned to be a Road of National Importance (Painter 2009, p.144). This clearly demonstrates how Commonwealth can take on responsibilities for funding public transport in Australia. Additionally, since the year 1990, Commonwealth restructuring of their funding priorities has been a very important feature. From the Special Premier Conference held in 1991, it was agreed that Commonwealth should concentrate more on national highways as well as any other road that is of national importance (James 1993, p.153). Therefore, since then, Commonwealth has defined its key responsibility as a funding for national networks of roads. Furthermore, HRSCCTM strongly supports Commonwealth in its ongoing responsibility with regard to the national highway system as well as the roads of national significance in attaining its significance (James 1993, p.152). This illustrates how Commonwealth is ready to take this responsibility.

To sum up, Commonwealth has been involved in the infrastructure projects within Australia as well as their public transport. They have played a major role in both funding and road provision in Australia, although their road funding has been observed to be contentious. On the other hand, Commonwealth has been contributing almost 5 billion every year to the States and local governments for infrastructure in which roads have been dominating in these financing. In addition, Commonwealth has assisted the government by topping up. For instance, it funded three projects; the Black Spot, Rural Highways and Provincial Cities. On the other hand, Commonwealth has faced a number of huddles which include the dispute between NWS Government and themselves.

This disagreement has been due to the designation of the proposed Western Sidney orbital road. In addition, Commonwealth has also demonstrated great responsibility of both national highways and road of national importance. This is clearly shown by the support they have received from the “House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communication, Transport and Microeconomic Reform”. Therefore, from the above arguments, Commonwealth has demonstrated strong spirit of responsibility for funding public transport in Australia.


James, D 1993, Commonwealth Road Funding Since 1980, Vol. 35, issue 1993, Parliamentary Research Service.

Lindell, G 2005, Commonwealth Control of Ports as an Exercise of the Commonwealth’s first and Most General Power? Public Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 271-275.

Nation Building Program 2013, Determination of Conditions Applying to Payments under Part 8 of the Act, Retrieved from pdf/R2R_Funding_Conditions_March_2013.pdf.

Painter, M 2009, Collaborative federalism: economic reform in Australia in the 1990s, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Sims, R 2007, Infrastructure: roadmap for reform, Business Council of Australia.

Wanna, J. & Arklay, T 2010, The ayes have it: the history of the Queensland Parliament, 1957-1989, Acton, A.C.T., ANU E Press.