Last night’s Budget reaffirmed the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to Sydney, setting out new measures to unlock billions of dollars in private investment to modernise the City’s road network and build the new infrastructure which has been long talked about and is desperately needed.
Already we have pledged $3.7 billion to ease congestion, improve passenger rail services and make Australia’s oldest, biggest and most global city work better –more than TEN times what the former Howard government spent during its twelve years in office.
In this Budget we propose to do even more.
Completing the ‘Missing Links’
Based on work undertaken by Infrastructure Australia, we will allocate up to $25 million to establish a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to put to the market proposals to finance construction of two of Sydney’s ‘missing links’: M5 East and F3 to M2.
A further $150 million has been set aside to progress the F3 to M2 project if required.
Given the multibillion price tags involved, along with the prevailing pressures on both the Federal and NSW budgets, a partnership between government and the private sector offers a realistic option for fast-tracking the delivery of these projects.
Extending the M5 and building a new road linking the F3 to the M2 would be a big win for the City’s motorists and businesses. Together, this new infrastructure would make it easier to get around the City as well as improve access to the Port and Airport.
Smarter use of our existing roads and motorways
As well as new works, we also need to make sure we are getting the most out of the roads we’ve already got. That’s why as part of Managed Motorway Program we have committed $8.5 million in new funding to begin planning on an electronic freeway management system for the M4 between Strathfield and Lapstone.
Once installed, the technology would equip authorities with the tools they need to properly manage traffic flows, respond quickly to accidents and provide motorists with the real time information they can use to better plan their journeys and avoid frustrating delays.
Indeed if applied nationwide, electronic freeway management systems have the potential to greatly reduce congestion and save Australian families and businesses more than $500 million a year.
Moorebank Intermodal: Getting trucks off Sydney’s roads
Tackling congestion, reducing harmful emissions and making Sydney work better will also require getting more freight onto trains. Here again, the 2012-13 Budget delivers new action.
We will commission the private sector to design, build and operate a major, new intermodal facility in Sydney’s south west. Work will begin shortly on preparing the preferred site at Moorebank, including relocating Defence’s School of Military Engineering to new, modern facilities at Holsworthy Barracks.
Once operational from 2017, the facility will take 1.2 million trucks a year off Sydney’s road network, prevent gridlock around the Port Botany and ultimately transform the movement of freight along the entire east coast.
A second airport: It’s time to get it done
There is one other infrastructure challenge confronting Sydney which requires us to be bold – its need for additional airport capacity. After years of delay and inaction, Kingsford Smith Airport is rapidly running out of room.
This situation is already having an impact on the economies of both NSW and Australia. That’s why in conjunction with the 2012-13 Budget we have announced a detailed investigation into the suitability of Wilton as a potential site for the new airport that’s needed, including conducting preliminary economic, social and environmental studies.
We are determined to getting the planning right.
Federal Labor’s other investments in Sydney
The new measures and additional funding in this year’s Budget builds on Federal Labor’s previous commitments to modernising and extending Sydney’s road, rail and public transport infrastructure. They include:
- Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade which will speed up the movement of freight trains through Sydney, remove up to 200,000 trucks a year off its roads and improve the reliability of passenger services.
– $840 million; UNDERWAY
- Southern Sydney Freight Line, a new line from Macarthur to Chullora which will separate freight trains from passenger services, providing for the first time 24-hour access to the Port for up to five trains an hour.
– $1 billion (ARTC Funds); UNDERWAY
- Port Botany Rail Upgrade which will eliminate dockside bottlenecks and increase capacity along the line to the Port from 700,000 to around one million containers a year.
– $172 million; UNDERWAY
- F5 Upgrade which will ease congestion by widening the Freeway from four to eight lanes between Raby and Brooks roads, and to six lanes from Raby Road to Narellan Road.
– $93 million; COMPLETED
- Safety improvements along the Great Western Highway between Mount Victoria and Lithgow.
– $200 million; UNDERWAY
- Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, a new 14 kilometre line connecting Parramatta to Chatswood including five upgraded stations and a new one at Rosehill-Camellia.
– $2.1 billion; NSW still has not confirmed status of the project
In addition, Federal Labor is improving access to Sydney from the north with a $1.5 billion investment in the new Hunter Expressway (UNDERWAY) and this year alone, we are also providing $16.2 million to assist local councils to maintain and upgrade their local roads.
Federal Labor: Building for the future
Sydney is one of the world’s great cities and Australia’s premier international gateway. But to remain so it needs better infrastructure and the Federal Labor Government wants to help build it.
We recognise that the task of modernising and expanding the City’s road, rail and public transport infrastructure is too big for any one level of government. That’s why we are offering to partner with the NSW Government, as well as the private sector, to get the job done.
Achieving such cooperation and building the new infrastructure Sydney needs will produce significant economic and social dividends for the whole of the country for decades to come.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.