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Federal Budget digs deep for infrastructure projects


The Federal Government has announced $14 billion in infrastructure spending as part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget.

The Morrison Government has claimed another 40,000 jobs will be created through the infrastructure investments.

This will increase Australia’s 10-year infrastructure pipeline to a record $110 billion.

A total of $7.5 billion of the $14 billion will be dedicated to transport infrastructure, with $2.7 billion in NSW, $1.3 billion in Queensland, $1.1 billion in Victoria, $1.1 billion in Western Australia, $625 million in South Australia, $360 million in Tasmania, $190 million in the Northern Territory and $155 million in the Australian Capital Territory.

Major projects will be funded across each state and territory, including $560 million for the Singleton Bypass on New England Highway in New South Wales, $750 million for Stage 1 of the Coomera Connector in Queensland, and $528 million for the Shepparton and Warrnambool Rail Line Upgrades in Victoria.

A $2 billion investment has also been provided in road safety upgrades across the country through the budget, and an additional $1 billion will be provided to local councils to upgrade local roads, foothpaths and street lighting.

According to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the infrastructure investment for shovel-ready projects is based on a “use it or lose it basis”.

“If a state drags its feet, another state will get the money,” he said.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox described the budget as “right for the times”.

“The 2020-21 Federal Budget handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is a budget that is right for the times: stimulatory, inclusive, confidence-building and forward-looking,” Willox said.

“While this is a big spending budget, it is spending up big on the areas required to turn around the economy and set it on the right path for the future. A stronger economy, with higher productivity, greater opportunities for employment and renewed business and consumer confidence are prerequisites for a return to widespread incomes growth in Australia. This, in turn, will re-establish the tax base on which our future fiscal strength can be regained.”

Hiring credits

The Federal Government has also announced the Jobmaker hiring credit to employers who hire people aged 35 and younger as part of the JobMaker program.

It is required that new workers received the JobSeeker payment, youth allowance or parenting payment at least one month out of the three months before being hired.

The hiring credit is set at $200 a week for employers who hire apprentices aged 16 to 29, and $100 a week for those aged 30 to 35. It is available for up to the first 12 months of a new worker’s employment.

“Treasury estimates that this will support around 450,000 jobs for young people,” Frydenberg said.

An additional $1.2 billion is being provided in the Boosting Apprenticeships Wage Subsidy for up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees.

The budget has also provided temporary full tax expensing for businesses with a turnover up to $5 billion. Under the tax incentives, businesses can deduct the full cost of any depreciable assets of any value in the year they are first used or installed ready for use. This will be available until 30 June, 2022.

Australia’s STEM workforce has also seen benefits in the budget, as the Federal Government announced it will provide $459 million to the CSIRO to address the impacts of COVID-19.

An additional $1 billion was issued to support research at Australian universities.

“Investment in the creation and translation of knowledge is critical if Australia is to have a technology and science-led recovery,” Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering chief executive officer Kylie Walker said.

“Australia’s scientists, engineers and technology experts have already enabled a world-leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This budget is an investment in Australia’s skilled, resilient, productive and clean future economy, powered by a strong STEM-skilled workforce.”

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