AU$ 22 billion earmarked for infrastructure

By Richard High13 May 2009

Wayne Swan MP, Treasurer of Australia

Wayne Swan MP, Treasurer of Australia

Unveiling the 2009-2010 Budget this week Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia, said the government will invest more than AU$ 22 billion (US$ 16.9 billion) for ‘Nation Building Infrastructure' - rail, road, port, education, health, energy and broadband access.

The budget earmarked AU$ 3.4 billion (US$ 2.6 billion) for roads, AU$ 4.6 billion (US$ 3.52 billion) for metro rail, AU$ 389 million (US$ 298 million) for ports and freight infrastructure, and AU$ 4.5 billion (US$ 3.45 billion) for the Clean Energy Initiative, which includes AU$ 1 billion (US$ 765 million) of existing funding.

There was also AU$ 2.6 billion (US$ 1.99 billion) available for projects focused on universities and research from the Education Investment Fund, AU$ 3.2 billion (US$ 2.45 billion) for projects focused on hospitals and health infrastructure from the Health and Hospitals Fund, and partnering with the private sector to build the AU$ 43 billion (US$ 33 billion) National Broadband Network.

Mr Swan listed 15 infrastructure projects of "national importance", 10 of which were outlined in a shortlist of projects compiled by the government's Infrastructure Australia advisory body last week.

These include metro rail projects, including the Regional Rail Express project in Victoria - AU$ 3.2 billion (US$ 2.45 billion), the Gold Coast light rail project, Queensland - AU$ 365 million (US$ 279 million), the Gawler rail line modernisation - South Australia - AU$ 294 million (US 225 million), the Noarlunga to Seaford rail link, South Australia - AU$ 291 million (US$ 222 million), the Northbridge rail link, known as "the Hub", Western Australia - AU$ 236 million (US$ 180 million), the West Metro Sydney project, New South Wales - AU$ 91 million (US$ 70 million), the O-Bahn track extension, South Australia - AU$ 61 million (US$ 47 million) and the East-West Rail Tunnel, Victoria - AU$ 40 million (US$ 30.5 million).

Other projects earmarked by Mr Swan include the Brisbane rail feasibility study, Queensland - AU$ 20 million (US$ 15 million), the Hunter Expressway, New South Wales - AU$ 1.5 billion (US$ 1.15 billion), the Ipswich Motorway, Queensland - AU$ 884 million (US$ 676 million), the Kempsey Bypass, New South Wales - AU$ 618 million (US$ 473 million), the Bruce Highway - Cooroy to Curra, Queensland - AU$ 488 million (US$ 373 million), Oakajee Port, Western Australia - AU$ 339 million (US$ 259 million), and the Port of Darwin expansion, Northern Territories - AU$ 50 million (US$ 38 million).

The budget also outlined plans to part fund a raft of projects and offered seed capital to a plethora of others.

Mr Swan said investment in critical infrastructure projects would support an estimated 15000 jobs a year, peaking at 18000 in 2011-12.

However, Mr Swan also revealed that Australia will post a record AU$ 57.6 billion (US$ 44.1 billion) deficit in 2009-10. Mr Swan said the government therefore needed to borrow money for stimulus measures to kick-start the ailing economy and offset a AU$ 210 billion (US$ 160.5 billion) shortfall in revenues caused by the crisis.

"The global recession has been unleashed on Australia with a brutal, uncompromising force," said Mr Swan.

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