May 10, 2011

An Australia built to compete and prosper

An Australia built to compete and prosper

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

May 10 2011

The Gillard Labor Government has allocated additional resources to renew Australia’s infrastructure and to improve the way our cities work in the 2011-12 Budget.

We want an Australia that’s built to compete, with a highly skilled workforce and modern, well-planned infrastructure

Firstly, the 2011-12 Budget 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.

In the coming financial year, we will provide record annual funding of $7.0 billion 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.

This Budget also implements new reforms to make investing in public infrastructure even more attractive to private capital.

We have also taken the opportunity to strengthen Infrastructure Australia and its capacity to drive further lasting improvements to the way our nation plans, finances and builds the infrastructure it needs.

THE NATION BUILDING PROGRAM (2008-09 to 2013-14):

With a relatively small but largely urbanised population spread across a vast continent and much of our natural wealth located in remote areas, Australia has historically relied heavily on its road and rail infrastructure to drive its economic development.

With our population continuing to grow, the resources boom set to resume and freight volumes predicted to double by 2030, that reliance is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Better, safer and less congested roads

The Gillard Labor Government is rolling out the biggest road construction program since the creation of the national network almost 40 years ago. We have almost doubled the roads budget, with three quarters of the funding earmarked for projects in Regional Australia.

Nonetheless, the 2011-12 Budget goes even further, increasing investment in the nation’s highways and major arteries to some $28 billion over the six year life of the existing Nation Building Program.

The funding will be used to:

• Further accelerate the duplication of the Pacific Highway;

• Undertake the Mackay Ring Road Study – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Undertake the Scone Level Crossing Study – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Complete the remaining section of the Townsville Ring Road – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Upgrade of the intersection between the Bruce and Capricorn Highways – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Build the Gladstone Port Access Road – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Construct a new interchange along the Warrego Highway at Blacksoils – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Upgrade the Peak Downs Highway – 2010 Election Commitment*;

• Invest in the Western Australian Government’s ‘WA Gateway’ project, an extensive upgrade of the road network around Perth Airport and the nearby industrial estates – 2010 Election Commitment*.

* Project being delivered as part of the existing Nation Building Program using funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF). See below for more details about the RIF.

Of the more than 120 major roads projects scheduled to be delivered by the end of the existing Program in 2013-14, 46 are already completed and 63 are currently under construction.

We are also continuing a range of initiatives which have made our roads safer:

• $74.5 million to eliminate 292 dangerous black spots on local roads;

• $28 million to build the safe, modern roadside facilities used by truck drivers.

The 2011-12 Budget will preserve the funding that goes to the nation’s 565 councils and shires to assist them maintain and upgrade their local roads. Over the coming 12 months they will share in $1 billion.

Faster, more reliable freight rail

Under the Gillard Labor Government, record road funding is being complemented by a much greater investment in rail.

The modernisation of the interstate freight rail network is central to our broader efforts to lift productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take the pressure off the nation’s highways.

Put simply, we want more freight being transported on the back of trains.

That’s why we are providing $3.4 billion over the life of the existing Nation Building Program 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.

At the other end of the construction cycle, the following major upgrades are expected to be completed over the next 12 months:

• Reducing the severity of the curves at some 58 locations between Newcastle and the Queensland border by realigning the existing track, improvements which will allow trains to run at higher speeds – Federal contribution: $170 million;

• Replacing all the old timber and steel sleepers with one million new concrete sleepers along the 691 kilometre line between Broken Hill and Parkes – Federal contribution: $253 million;

• Extending seven existing passing loops on the line between Melbourne and Adelaide – Federal contribution: $76 million.

Of the 32 major upgrades scheduled to be delivered across the interstate rail network by the end of the existing Program in 2013-14, 13 are already completed and 11 are currently under construction.

More productive, sustainable and liveable cities

The Gillard Labor Government is making a historic investment in urban public transport.

We’ve so far committed $7.3 billion to give the residents of Brisbane, Sydney Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and the Gold Coast cleaner, faster ways of getting around.

BEYOND THE NATION BUILDING PROGRAM:

A fairer share for Regional Australia

The Gillard Labor Government will reinvest $6 billion of the wealth created by our natural resources back into building the road, rail, port and social infrastructure necessary to support the mining industry’s future growth as well as the local communities that work for it.

Subject to the passage of the necessary legislation, a proportion of the revenue raised by the proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) will go into the new Regional Infrastructure Fund and be used to deliver projects assessed by Infrastructure Australia.

In the meantime, the 2011-12 Budget allocates monies already in the Fund to a number of important projects which can start straight away as part of the existing Nation Building Program, supplementing the record $22 billion investment it’s already making in Regional Australia.

A renewed partnership between government and the private sector

Even with new sources of revenue, 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.

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.

Better, smarter regulations

As well as improving the infrastructure which the nation’s $61 billion transport industry relies upon, the 2011-12 Budget also provides the funding necessary ($25.2 million over two years) to finalise historic reforms to the way it’s regulated.

This will ensure one set of modern, nation-wide laws to cover maritime safety, rail safety and heavy vehicles.

Following their implementation in 2013, these important microeconomic reforms will improve safety, simplify the compliance task for transport operators and boost national income.

Keeping remote communities connected

For many remote communities, particularly during the wet season, the most important piece of the infrastructure is the local airstrip. That’s why the 2011-2012 Budget provides $28.0 million to upgrade even more of them.