Australian Government announces transport infrastructure commitments in 2011-12 Budget

THE Australian Government has allocated additional resources to renew Australia's infrastructure and to improve the way cities work in the 2011-12 Budget.

The 2011-12 Budget, released last Tuesday, allocates $954.3 million in new funding and accelerated investment for the Nation Building Program, in addition to $394.4 million for projects under the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Investment in the nation's transport infrastructure will reach about $7 billion next financial year to progress a long list of large and smaller scale projects.

"The Government's unprecedented capital works program now comprises over 120 major road, 32 major rail and 6 urban public transport projects - including all the commitments we took to last year's general election," said Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.

Among the projects to receive funding are:

  • Planning and works to duplicate the Pacific Highway, with an aim to complete the full duplication of the highway by 2016;
  • The Mackay Ring Road Study;
  • Completion of the remaining section of the Townsville Ring Road;
  • The Gladstone Port Access Road; 
  • The WA Gateway project upgrading the road network around Perth Airport and nearby industrial estates; and
  • Upgrades to the Peak Downs Highway.

The government will invest $74.5 million to eliminate 292 dangerous black spots on local roads and $28 million to build roadside facilities for truck drivers.

The 2011-12 Budget provides $1 billion for the nation's 565 councils and shires to assist them in maintaining and upgrading local roads.

The Minister also said the government wants more freight being transport by rail.

"That's why we are providing $3.4 billion over the life of the existing Nation Building Program [2008-09 to 2013-14] to rebuild 3,771 kilometres of existing track and lay a further 235 kilometres of new track."

"In the coming financial year, work will start on the following projects re-railing and re-sleepering the 239 kilometres line between Albury, Melbourne and Geelong as well as upgrading the older bridges," Mr Albanese said.

The Budget also contains measures to attract private investment in nationally significant projects, with the Minister saying that "modernising Australia's infrastructure is ultimately a task too big for government alone."

"It will require greater involvement from the private sector, most notably superannuation funds."

"The 2011-12 Budget puts in place new tax measures to attract up to $25.0 billion of additional private investment in nationally significant projects identified on Infrastructure Australia's National Priority List as 'Ready to Proceed' or 'Threshold' and likely to deliver the greatest economic benefits," Mr Albanese said.

The Budget also includes changes and increased funding for Infrastructure Australia, aiming to strengthen its capacity to "drive further lasting improvements to the way our nation plans, finances and builds the infrastructure it needs."

"Given the important role it will play in directing such a significant level of new investment, as well as the ongoing budgetary decisions of government, the Budget also increases funding for Infrastructure Australia by around 40 per cent and strengthens its independence while improving transparency in the national infrastructure market," Mr Albanese said.

Peak infrastructure industry group, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, welcomed the Budget's initiatives for Infrastructure Australia and moves to incentivise superannuation investment in infrastructure but urged the Government to get on with the job of bringing forward major projects.

The group said that while the Budget makes sound policy contributions, "Australia has a long way to go to deal with its infrastructure challenges," with action needed on new projects.

During the 2011-12 financial year, the Australian Government will provide $2.4 billion to infrastructure projects in New South Wales, $1.2 billion to Queensland, $1.1 billion to Victoria, $920.5 million to Western Australia, $585.4 million to South Australia, $143.5 million to Northern Territory, $121 million to Tasmania and $82.2 million towards projects in ACT.

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