Load & Haul

Federal budget promises boost to infrastructure

According to a joint media release by the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, the 2017–18 Budget will help improve connectivity, productivity and liveability throughout Australia’s cities and regional areas.

“The Australian Government is delivering a commitment of $75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing from 2017–18 to 2026–27 for critical airport, road and rail infrastructure projects,” Fletcher and Chester said.

Consult Australia CEO Megan Motto ‘welcomed the direction’ of the Federal Budget but said it was a missed opportunity to capitalise on historically low borrowing rates. Consult Australia is the peak body that represents 49,000 built environment consulting firms.

“This was a budget big on planning for longer term infrastructure dividends,” Motto said.

“More than $14 billion of direct government equity in major infrastructure delivery [has been delivered] to major projects like Snowy Hydro, Inland Rail and Western Sydney Airport,” she explained. “Yet in the short term there is a sense of missed opportunity. Real spend on infrastructure delivery will fall.”

Budget ‘centerpiece’

According to Fletcher and Chester, the Federal Government will commit $20 billion to upgrade Australia’s passenger and freight rail, describing this commitment as a “once in a generation” opportunity.

“The Government will invest $10 billion over the next decade for the National Rail Program, [which] will reduce the burden on Australian roads, provide more reliable transport networks, and support efforts to grow regional Australia,” the ministers said.

In Victoria, an additional $30 million will be provided to fund the development of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, as well as an additional $20 million for the Murray Basin Rail. According to the Federal Government, a further $460 million is “available” for Victorian infrastructure projects, to be later negotiated between State and Federal Government bodies.

Delivering on projects

According to the Federal Government, $5.3 billion has been committed to build Sydney’s second airport in the western suburbs.
The Federal Government has also stated it will “fully deliver” on the $8.4 billion Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project. This was one of the key innovative projects discussed at last year’s joint CCAA/IQA conference. The project – a 10-year, 1700km rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane – will require 20 million cubic metres of earthworks, 2.5 million tonnes of ballast and 1.6 million sleepers.

The Government’s Budget will also provide $1.6 billion towards a $2.3 billion Federal-State package to ‘kickstart’ Western Australia’s road and rail infrastructure projects. This will include $1.2 billion for Perth’s Metronet rail project and $237 million for WA’s Kwinana Freeway.

Melina Morrison, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals CEO said the Budget would provide “exciting opportunities” for regionally based and community-owned infrastructure projects.

“[This] will ensure Government funds contribute to sustainable, independent, social and economic development in regional Australia,” Morrison said.

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