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The money was part of “an unemployment relief fund used to widen the Great Ocean Road and provide work for more than 200 returned soldiers”.
The road – now one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions – shows the legacy governments can leave when trying to boost a collapsed economy.
Almost a century later Victoria is staring at another savage economic downturn, of a magnitude not seen since the Depression, and certainly since the state’s last recession in 1991.
Premier Daniel Andrews has fronted the media almost daily since calling a state of emergency in March, with a forceful focus on staving off a health catastrophe.
But the economic woes coronavirus could wreak upon Victoria may be as big a challenge as the health crisis, with state treasury estimates this week predicting a quarter of a million Victorians will soon be out of work – twice the current number. To cope with the economic battering, Victoria will borrow up to $24.5 billion in extra cash.
Premier Daniel Andrews at Carrum Station in January.CREDIT:JASON SOUTH
Andrews has regularly said construction will be one of the ways his government digs Victoria out of the crisis. “We are going to need to do more in road and rail. It will need to,” he said this week, "go to another level”.
But with the state’s infrastructure drive already at what most thought “next level” before the pandemic, can Victoria realistically contemplate embarking on more mega-projects – builds with price tags in excess of $1 billion? Or could the pandemic provide a sort of reset, where Daniel Andrews relaxes his focus on big builds and instead turns the state towards other infrastructure to get the economy pumping again?
'We've been conned into a major projects approach'
Andrews this week said his government’s choice of projects had always been both big and little, with the state’s massive transport build packaged up so that “small firms, medium firms and large big tier-one firms” got work.
Four immense transport projects are either underway in Victoria, or might already have been signed off had the pandemic not ground the state to a halt.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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