May 13, 2008

$20 Billion for Nation-Building Projects

$20 Billion for Nation-Building Projects


The Hon Anthony Albanese

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

May 13 2008

The Rudd Labor Government has used its first Budget to make a substantial down-payment of its pledge to fix and modernise the nation’s infrastructure.

The Government has taken the far-reaching decision to allocate an initial $20 billion to its Building Australia Fund, money which in the years to come will be used to build critical economic infrastructure such as roads, rail, ports and broadband.

These funds will be sourced from the budget surpluses expected in 2007-08 and 2008-09, with the possibility of further deposits being made from future surpluses. The Communications Fund will also be rolled into the Building Australia Fund.

Having determined the quantum of our initial deposit, the Government will now spend the coming months finalising the Fund’s governance arrangements.

We expect to have the Fund up and running by 1 January 2009, with the first allocations to be made in 2009-10.

Allocations from the Fund will be guided by Infrastructure Australia’s national audit and infrastructure priority list the first of which will be presented to the March 2009 meeting of COAG.

As well as being a key element to our macro-economic strategy for tackling inflation and boosting national productivity, the Fund will:

 Help our manufacturers, farmers and miners get their goods to market as quickly and cheaply as possible;

 Equip households and businesses with the tools to take full advantage of the Internet and the information revolution it has sparked; and

 Improve the functioning of and quality of life within our major cities and major regional centres.

For too long there has been a lack of investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

We are now living with the consequences of this underinvestment as well as the lack of national leadership and poor planning: higher business costs; and inflationary pressures.

Inadequate or poorly planned infrastructure also produces a social cost. For example, as a result of urban congestion at least one in ten working parents are spending more time commuting in their car than at home with their kids.

We are determined to overcome the legacy we’ve inherited and unlike our predecessors we will use the financial dividends of today’s mining boom to secure tomorrow’s prosperity.

The creation of the Building Australia Fund, together with the establishment of Infrastructure Australia, confirms and builds upon Labor’s tradition as a nation building party.

The Commonwealth Government is back in the business of nation-building.