The Federal Government will fast-track investment in critical infrastructure projects including Inland Rail; the Marinus Link; the Olympic Dam extension; NSW emergency town water projects; and road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia, as part of its new JobMaker plan.

In a speech at CEDA’s State of the Nation Conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, announced that infrastructure investment and deregulation would play a “critical” role in the five-year JobMaker plan, as well as skills, industrial relations, housing and construction, and major reform of funding approval processes.

The Prime Minister announced the Federal Government would commit a further $1.5 billion to immediately commence work on priority projects identified by states and territories as part of new bilateral partnerships designed to expedite approvals.

As part of this package, $1 billion will be allocated to priority projects that are shovel-ready, with $500 million reserved for road safety works targeting areas across the country, not only in rural and regional areas.

Investment will be directed to transport infrastructure, but also to water infrastructure to secure supply and underpin agricultural expansion; telecommunications services; the electrical infrastructure required to remove bottlenecks in Australia’s electricity grid; and advance manufacturing, especially in regional areas.

Joint assessment teams will work on accelerating these projects, which are worth more than $72 billion in public and private investment and are expected to support over 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Prime Minister’s priority list of fast-tracked projects includes:

♦ Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane
♦ Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria
♦ Olympic Dam extension in South Australia
♦ Emergency town water projects in New South Wales
♦ Road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia

Major deregulation to streamline approvals

The Prime Minister said that the key to build the pipeline of future projects was for government to “get out of the way” and speed up progress by improving approvals processes.

“Ultimately, our objective is the streamlining of Commonwealth and state processes to a point of ‘single touch approvals’,” he said.

In an effort to drive a whole-of-government approach to how regulatory policy is prosecuted, he announced he would bring the Deregulation Taskforce into his own department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Prime Minister established the Federal Deregulation Taskforce in 2019 with his Assistant Minister, Ben Morton.

This included simplifying business registers, streamlining export documentation and making it easier for a sole trader and micro-businesses to employ people.

The next phase of the taskforce work will focus on areas to assist COVID-19 economic recovery.

The Prime Minister cited occupational licensing and registration requirements as a key example, often varying across states and territories, which increases costs on businesses and workers who operate or move across Australia.

A new bilateral model between federal and state levels

In addition to streamlining Commonwealth approvals, the Prime Minister said a new bilateral model would be implemented to speed up communication and decision-making between the federal, state and territory governments.

Under this new model, jobs will be brought to market earlier by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in federal assessment and approval times for major projects, from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months.

Construction on western sydney airport rail line to begin in 2020

Construction is set to commence in 2020 on the $11 billion Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport rail line, providing an economic boost as NSW plans its recovery from COVID-19.

The rail line will service the greater Western Sydney region as well as the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, which is currently under construction.

The project includes six proposed metro railway stations:

♦ Two stations within the airport site, at the airport erminal and at the airport business park
♦ A station serving the commercial heart of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis
♦ A station at St Marys, interchanging with the existing suburban railway station and connecting customers with the rest of Sydney’s rail system
♦ A station at Orchard Hills to service a future commercial and mixed-use precinct
♦ A station at Luddenham to service a future education, innovation and commercial precinct

Construction on the project is expected to support about 14,000 jobs, including 250 new apprentices.

Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport is a key part of the Western Sydney City Deal, a 20-year agreement signed in March 2018 by the Federal Government, NSW Government and eight Western Sydney councils.

The new metro railway line will become the transport spine for the region, connecting travellers from the new airport to the rest of Sydney’s public transport system.

Under a new agreement between the Federal and NSW Governments, a further $3.5 billion will be injected into the project in time for the opening of the airport in 2026.

Nsw gov awards two rail construction contracts worth $600 million

The NSW Government has awarded two contracts for modernisation and upgrade works on the state’s rail network, worth a combined $600 million.

The infrastructure upgrades, which form part of the NSW Government’s $4.3 billion More Trains, More Services program, will be delivered as two separate packages of work, each worth around $300 million.

The Next Rail partnership, comprising John Holland and Jacobs, will deliver all projects from Central to Hurstville, while the Transport for Tomorrow partnership, comprising Laing O’Rourke and KBR, will deliver all projects between Mortdale and Kiama.

The essential upgrades to rail infrastructure include the stabling yards, signalling, track, station platforms and power supply at key locations between Central, the T8 Airport Line tunnel and the South Coast.

These lines are being prioritised because they are among the busiest on the network, catering for 440,000 trips in a typical day – approximately one third of daily rail customers.

Construction for the rail upgrades will begin in the middle of 2020 and be completed in advance of the service improvements, which are planned for late 2022.

Further improvements will be delivered under the More Trains, More Services program in 2024, including on the T4, T8 and South Coast Lines, to effectively integrate Sydney Metro City and Southwest.

NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, said the two most recent contracts will support around 550 jobs.

The jobs will cover a range of disciplines including engineers, rail construction workers, security guards, truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, labourers, concrete workers and apprentices.

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