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Scott Morrison announces $3.8B infrastructure cash splash

A $17.6 billion stimulus package has been announced for businesses and households to deal with challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus.

Billions of dollars will be spent to accelerate construction activity in a bid to prop up the economy, create jobs and provide nation-building infrastructure.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced $3.8 billion will be spent to bring forward major infrastructure projects around the country in a speech to the Business Council of Australia on Wednesday.

Half of the $3.8 billion spend over a four-year forward estimates period – $1.78 billion will arise over the next 18 months. Around $2.72 billion collectively is being brought forward with another $1.06 billion added.

“Shortly after the election, I wrote to all state and territory leaders asking them to identify infrastructure projects from our $100 billion ten-year program that could be accelerated. I’m pleased to announce that as a result of this process we have been able to bring forward $3.8 billion of investment into the next four years,” Morrison said in a draft speech released yesterday.

“This will support the economy in two ways – by accelerating construction activity and supporting jobs in the near term, and by reaping longer run productivity gains sooner.

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“Every state and territory will benefit, with significant transport projects to be accelerated in all jurisdictions.”

As part of this $3.8 billion spend, the Prime Minister announced a $1.9 billion package which fast tracks spending on road and rail projects all over Queensland.

Funding will be brought forward for a total of 20 projects including key upgrades on the M1, Bruce, Warrego and Cunningham Highways and the North Coast Rail Line.

Additionally, the government will contribute an additional $46.3 million to upgrade the M1 Pacific Motorway at Exits 41 and 49. This comes on top of the existing $96.3 million to upgrade both exits under the $4 billion nationwide Urban Congestion Fund.

Federal Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said the government was tackling road network pinch points across South East Queensland and beyond under the Urban Congestion Fund.

“This is about busting congestion on key routes like the M1 Pacific Motorway here in Queensland, reducing the time people are spending stuck in traffic and improving road network reliability by addressing local bottlenecks,” Tudge said.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the additional funding would cut travel times and make access to and from the M1 safer and easier.

“The Exit 41 and Exit 49 projects will complement other investments along the M1 Pacific Motorway including the Pacific Motorway – Gateway Motorway Merge and between Eight Mile Plains and Daisy Hill,” Bailey said.

In WA, $868 million from the Federal Government will bring the total funding to $5.4 billion over the next four years in WA.

In addition, the Federal and Western Australian Governments have announced a new round of road and METRONET projects in Perth to further reduce congestion, create new jobs and boost safety.

More than $200 million in federal and state contributions will fund six projects, including the widening of Mitchell Freeway southbound between Hodges Drive and Hepburn Avenue and construction of a new METRONET station at Lakelands on the Mandurah rail line.

Tudge said starting construction on $430 million worth of Urban Congestion Fund projects across Perth was a top priority.

“This string of Urban Congestion Fund projects will bust congestion to save WA commuters and business precious time and money,” Tudge said.

Commenting on the announcement, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers told The Guardian the plan was a “humiliating” backdown and an admission the economy was in need of stimulus.

“For months now, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have been saying that their policy settings are bang on, and that the fundamentals of the Australian economy are very strong,” Chalmers said.

“With this announcement today, they are conceding, in a humiliating fashion, that both of those statements were wrong.

“This is an admission that the economy has deteriorated since the election, but not a comprehensive plan to turn things around,” Chalmers said.

“It’s an admission that the Morrison government has got the economy badly wrong.”

New infrastructure projects in WA:

Mitchell Freeway (Hodges Drive to Hepburn Avenue) Widening southbound
Cost estimate: 
$76 million
Jobs created: 530
Funding spilt: $38 million Federal, $38 million State

Lakelands Station (Mandurah Line)
Cost estimate: 
$80 million
Jobs created: 200
Funding spilt: $64 million Federal, $16 million State

Great Northern Highway (Apple Street) Intersection Upgrade
Cost estimate:
 $14 million
Jobs created: 90
Funding spilt: $7 million Federal, $7 million State/City of Swan/private sector

Wanneroo Road (Morley Drive) Intersection Upgrade
Cost estimate:
 $15 million
Jobs created: 90
Funding spilt: $7.5 million Federal, $7.5 million State

Great Eastern Highway (Old Northam Road) upgrade two intersections at Wooroloo and at Sawyers Valley
Cost estimate:
 $14.375 million
Jobs created: 70
Funding spilt: $11.5 million Federal, $2.875 million State

Reid Highway (Erindale Road) project development for grade separation
Cost estimate:
 $2.5 million (seed funding)
Jobs created: TBA
Funding spilt: $2 million Federal, $0.5 million State

Project funding brought forward:

$283.6 million for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road

$82.8 million for the Albany Ring Road

$36.2 million for the Alice Springs to Halls Creek Corridor Upgrade

$16 million for the Fremantle Traffic Bridge

$156.7 million for the Karratha to Tom Price Corridor

$40.8 million for the Newman to Katherine Corridor Upgrade

$40.8 million for Port Augusta to Perth Corridor

$159.9 million for Tonkin Highway Gap

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