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The federal government will direct $4.5bn in spending towards roads but much-heralded new public transport projects including the Tullamarine airport rail link and the Monash rail link will wait years for the lion’s share of announced funding.
In his budget speech on Tuesday night, the treasurer boasted that the government’s “$75bn 10-year rolling infrastructure plan will continue”.
Scott Morrison announced that $1bn would be directed to an urban congestion fund “to fix pinch points and improve traffic flow and safety in our cities”.
Some $3.5bn will be spent on roads of strategic importance to upgrade key freight routes in northern Australia ($1.5bn), Tasmania ($400m), the Bindoon bypass in Western Australia ($220m) and $100m to upgrade the Barton highway in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.
Of the total $75bn 10-year package, some $24.5bn has been committed to new projects in a pre-budget blitz but Treasury and infrastructure department officials told Guardian Australia that just $4.2bn of that will be spent in the next four years, reflecting the fact many are not ready for construction. Existing projects will get $17.8bn over the next four years.
Of the new projects, some $5bn is committed to the Tullamarine Melbourne airport rail link but just $250m will be spent in the next four years. Of the $475m for planning and pre-construction work for the Monash rail link, just $23m will be spent in the next four years.
Of the new public transport commitments, only Perth’s Metronet – which will get a further $1.05bn from the federal government – will see the majority of its funding ($730m) in the next four years.
Major road projects will also wait years for most of their funding, with $1bn committed to the M1 Pacific motorway on the Gold Coast but just $155m in the next four years and $971m committed to the Pacific highway Coffs Harbour bypass but just $235m in the next four years.
The budget papers confirm the newly committed $24.5bn will go towards:
• $7.8bn for Victoria including $5bn for the Melbourne airport rail link, $1.75bn for the North-East link, $475m for the Monash rail connection, $225m for the Frankston-to-Baxter rail line electrification, $140m for urban roads, $132m for the Princes highway duplication, and $50m for duplication of the Geelong rail line.
• $5.2bn for Queensland including the Bruce highway upgrades ($3.3bn), M1 Pacific motorway ($1bn), Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade ($390m), Brisbane Metro ($300m), Amberley interchange ($170m) and the Warrego highway ($64.2m).
$3.2bn for Western Australia including $1.1bn for the Metronet, $580.5m for the Tonkin highway, $560m for the Bunbury outer ring road, $144m for the Roe highway, $107.5m for the Mitchell freeway extension and $220m for the Bindoon bypass.
• $1.8bn for South Australia including $1.4bn for the north-south corridor in Adelaide, $220m for the Gawler rail line electrification and $160m for the Joy Baluch bridge duplication.
• $1.5bn for NSW including the Coffs Harbour bypass on the Pacific highway ($971m), Port Botany rail line duplication ($400m) and a new Nowra bridge ($155m).
• $520.8m for Tasmania including $461m for the Bridgewater bridge replacement and $59.8m for the Tasmanian freight rail revitalisation.
$280m for the Northern Territory including the Central Arnhem road upgrade ($180m) and the Buntine highway upgrade ($100m).
The budget papers note that although the government will give “up to $5bn” for the Tullamarine Melbourne airport rail link, there is “an option for equity investment, to be settled at a later date”, and the Victorian government will be required to chip in 50% of the cost.
Infrastructure department officials insisted the equity option would not reduce commonwealth funding for the project, but equity funding could make up 100% of its contribution.
The rest of the $75bn 10-year program includes $15bn in equity grants – which remain off budget – and $4.2bn in contingent liabilities including for the East-West link in Melbourne, which the Victorian Labor government has not committed to build.
This article first appeared on www.theguardian.com
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