The Australian Government has agreed to provide a financial package of A$1.8bn ($1.17bn) for road and community projects through local governments across Australia.

By providing this package, the Government of Australia intends to help local councils in creating new employment opportunities, as well as delivering priority infrastructure projects.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Our funding boost will help councils accelerate priority projects that will employ locally and support local business and also stimulating our economy.

“These projects will cut travel times, make our communities safer and upgrade the facilities we all enjoy while also getting more people into jobs. 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.”

Morrison further added that the local governments were playing a key role in responding to the impacts of the Covid‑19 pandemic.

The government expects the A$500m from the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program and the A$1.3bn from the 2020-21 Financial Assistance Grant payment to benefit the communities that are battling the effects of the pandemic.

Australia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said: “This package will improve road safety and bolster the resilience of our local road networks, which will get Australians home sooner and safer, no matter where they live.

“Projects could include constructing or improving bridges and tunnels, street lighting and heavy vehicle facilities such as rest areas.

“Providing support for social infrastructure projects such as new or upgraded bicycle and walking paths, community facilities, picnic shelters and barbecue facilities at parks, will help communities, especially those in regional and remote areas, stay connected.”

McCormack further explained that supporting councils to improve local roads and community infrastructure would create economic and social benefits for communities.

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton said that investing in infrastructure and jobs is crucial in helping regional communities to rebound from Covid-19.

He said: “Our package enables councils to continue their proven track record of partnering with the coalition government to deliver opportunities for locals to be employed and businesses to benefit by providing materials and services.

“The package takes commonwealth investment in local governments through the Financial Assistance Grant program to $2.5bn this financial year, with a further $1.2bn being distributed through other programmes to deliver infrastructure, and provide relief from drought and bushfires.”

Guidelines for the Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program will be provided directly to local governments by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.