Australian government unveils infra spending boost

Federal budget promises big spending in roads and rail, including up to $3.7bn for a new Melbourne Airport rail link.

The Australian government has announced A$24.5 billion ($18.2 billion; €15.4 billion) of infrastructure spending in the federal budget, taking 10-year spending on infrastructure to A$75 billion up to 2027-28.

The government announced a raft of measures in roads, rail, aviation and ports across all of the states and territories, thanks to a recent turnaround in federal finances which will see the government return to surplus a year early in 2019-20 due to favourable economic conditions.

The biggest funding packages have gone to Victoria and Queensland, which will receive A$7.8 billion and A$5.2 billion, respectively.

One of the biggest individual promises saw up to A$5 billion of funding pledged for a new rail link for Melbourne Airport, with specific funding arrangements including an option for the federal government to make an equity investment, to be determined at a later date.

On roads, the government set aside A$3.5 billion to establish a new Roads of Strategic Importance initiative to support the upgrade of important regional road corridors, including A$1.5 billion for Northern Australia (West Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland). It also promised A$1 billion to set up an Urban Congestion Fund that will support projects to remediate pinch points, improve traffic safety and increase network efficiency for commuter and freight movements in urban areas.

As well as the new measures announced, the government confirmed that the Western Sydney Airport is due to begin this year and will be operational by 2026, with the government providing A$5.3 billion of equity in the West Sydney Airport Corporation, a company the Australian Government established to deliver the project.

Preparatory work on the Inland Rail project to build a new 1,700-km rail line connecting Brisbane and Melbourne is also continuing, with the government providing A$9.3 billion in equity and grant funding to the Australian Rail Track Corporation that is delivering the scheme. The ARTC will enter into a PPP this year to deliver some of the most complex parts of the project.

Source: Budget 2018-19

Unveiling the budget to Parliament Tuesday night, Treasurer Scott Morrison said: “Our A$75 billion, 10-year rolling infrastructure plan will continue — strengthening our economy, busting congestion in our cities, making rural roads safer and getting our products to market.”

The infrastructure bonanza follows spending promises made by the Victorian Government in its state budget, unveiled on May 1.

In it, the Victorian Government promised A$2.2 billion for suburban roads upgrades, A$684 million for stage two of the Monash Freeway upgrade project, and A$540 million to transform the Sunbury to Cranbourne-Pakenham rail corridor.