Transport infrastructure to get $7.5 billion in the Federal Budget

The Prime Minister has announced a $7.5 billion boost for national transport infrastructure to deliver roads and create jobs.

As part of the Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan the infrastructure funding includes key investments across all states and territories.

An additional $1.2 billion has also been announced to support Australian businesses to employ 100,000 new apprentices or trainees. From 5 October 2020, businesses that take on a new Australian apprentice will be eligible for a 50 per cent wage subsidy.

Infrastructure funding 

In a press release the Government stated the $7.5 billion funding would build on the series of infrastructure investments already announced in response to the pandemic. More information on the funding will be released later today in the Budget announcement.

Major project specific investments include:

  • $560 million for the Singleton Bypass on the New England Highway in New South Wales;
  • an additional $490.6 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass in New South Wales;
  • $528 million for the Shepparton and Warrnambool Rail Line Upgrades in Victoria;
  • $750 million for Stage 1 of the Coomera Connector (Coomera to Nerang) in Queensland;
  • an additional $80.0 million for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network in Western Australia;
  • $88 million for the Reid Highway Interchange with West Swan Road in Western Australia;
  • $200 million for the Hahndorf Township Improvements and Access Upgrade in South Australia;
  • $136 million to progress the Main South Road Duplication in South Australia;
  • $150 million for the Midway Point Causeway (including McGees Bridge) and Sorell Causeway as part of the Hobart to Sorell Roads of Strategic Importance corridor in Tasmania;
  • $65 million for the Tasman Bridge Upgrade in Tasmania;
  • $120 million to upgrade the Carpentaria Highway in the Northern Territory;
  •  $46.6 million for National Network Highway Upgrades in the Northern Territory; and
  • $87.5 million for the Molonglo River Bridge in the ACT.

 

Major investments 

The Federal Government remains committed to its $110 billion, 10 year infrastructure plan. In addition to the projects above the government will add $20 million to its $10 billion development of the Bruce Highway in Queensland.  There is also $100 million set aside for upgrades to the Strzelecki Track in South Australia and $16 million each for upgrades on the Goldfields Highway and the Broome-Cape Leveque Road in Western Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Federal Budget would deliver funding for infrastructure which supports the Government’s JobMaker plan and helps the nation recover from COVID-19.

“We have been working closely with state and territory governments to invest in the infrastructure that is ready to go and can help rebuild our economy and create more jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“These projects will keep commuters safe on the road, get people home to their loved ones sooner and provide better transport links for urban and regional communities.”

He said the investment was part of the government’s plan to support an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Government is focused on delivering priorities and boosting local jobs as part of Australia’s road to recovery.

“We will draw on local businesses to stimulate local economies through these projects,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Infrastructure means jobs, it means livelihoods, it means stronger local communities and it means building a better and more secure future for our nation.”

This funding announcement has been criticised by shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King who claimed in a media stand up that previous budgets have seen the government underspend on projects it had promised.

“The problem is that the Government makes the announcement but isn’t spending the time and the effort on actually delivering,” King said.

When asked by a journalist whether she thought a big spend on infrastructure would produce the best results for people who had lost their jobs, King said there are a number of things to do.

“The first is, of course it is really important for the economy in the longer-term to be investing in those large-scale projects, those visionary projects, that are really going to boost productivity across the country,” she said.

“They are long term projects that do take some time, but there are also projects that are equally very important in local communities, whether it be small-scale road projects or social infrastructure…”

Road safety program

The Federal Government will deliver the next National Road Safety Strategy for 2021-2030 and have committed an additional $2 billion for road safety in addition to the $500 million being delivered now. This will include upgrades such as the installation of wire rope safety barriers and rumble strips.

To monitor and evaluate road safety progress the Government is allocating $5.5 million to create a National Road Safety Data Hub. This will assess the effectiveness of all road safety efforts by all Australian governments as the nation moves towards its agreed target of zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said working towards zero fatalities and serious injuries on Australian roads was a core priority for the Government, which is why the Budget was funding this significant investment.

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and the Government is playing our part by investing in road safety projects to get people where they need to be sooner and safer,” McCormack said.

“We are committing an additional $2 billion over 18 months under a new Road Safety Program to deliver an estimated 3,000 kilometres of lifesaving road improvements and support thousands of jobs right across the country.

The program will be delivered in a use it or lose it basis over three, six month tranches.

“Funds that States and Territories do not spend will be re-allocated to those that can, with jurisdictions required to provide road safety data as a key condition of funding.”

Local works

The Federal Budget set aside an additional $1 billlion for local governments to access in the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, building on the initial $500 million announced in May 2020.

This investment and the Road Safety Program are expected to support 10,000 jobs over the life of the projects.

Apprenticeships

The Federal Government announced that the 50 per cent wage subsidy for apprentices or trainees will apply regardless of location, occupation, industry of business size. It will be available for any businesses who engage an Australian apprentice or trainee from 5 October until the 100,000 cap is reached.

The Prime Minister said apprenticeships are an important pathway to get young people into jobs and to ensure there is a skills pipeline to meet the future needs of employers.

“During this pandemic the Federal Government has been focused on supporting and creating jobs as well as identifying the skills we need in the economic rebuild,” he said.

“Whether it’s the manufacturing, housing and construction, arts or mining sectors – this new wage subsidy gives businesses certainty to hire and provides a career path to aspiring, young tradies.”

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy for a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee from the period up to 30 September 2021, with a cap of $7000 per quarter.

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