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The highly anticipated 2020-21 Federal Budget has been released and features significant funding for Australia’s infrastructure industry, with a $7.5 billion investment in transport infrastructure around the country as part of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has committed to invest an additional $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure projects over the next four years. These projects will support a further 40,000 jobs during their construction.

Some of the key infrastructure funding announcements from the budget include: 

  • $7.5 billion for transport infrastructure around the country
  • Funding for “shovel-ready projects” including $2 billion for road safety initiatives and $1 billion for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program
  • Additional $4.5 billion investment in NBN Co
  • An investment of $2 billion for new projects under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund

Of the $7.5 billion the Government is investing in key transport projects across all states and territories, this includes: 

  • $2.7 billion in NSW
  • $1.3 billion in QLD
  • $1.1 billion in VIC
  • $1.1 billion in WA
  • $625 million in SA
  • $360 million in TAS
  • $190 million in NT
  • $155 million in ACT

The funding builds on a series of infrastructure investments from the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which now total more than $11.3 billion. 

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the Federal Budget would deliver funding for infrastructure,  which supports the Government’s JobMaker plan.

“We have been working closely with state and territory governments to invest in the infrastructure that is ready to go and can help rebuild our economy and create more jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“This investment through the Budget will boost the national economy and is part of our plan to support an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs across the nation.”

Transport infrastructure 

The 2020-21 Federal Budget includes funding for key transport infrastructure projects across the country. Here is the state-by-state breakdown: 

New South Wales

Federal Budget funding: $2.7 billion

Expected jobs created: 8,000 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: $5 billion+

Key transport infrastructure investments for New South Wales include:

  • $560 million for the Singleton Bypass on the New England Highway 
  • $360 million for the Newcastle Inner City Bypass between Rankin Park and Jesmond
  • $120 million for the Prospect Highway Upgrade
  • $491 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass (Bringing the total Federal contribution to $1.5 billion)

Queensland

Federal Budget funding: $1.3 billion

Expected jobs created: 5,150 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: $1.7 billion+

Key investments for Queensland include:

  • $750 million for Stage 1 of the Coomera Connector (Coomera to Nerang) 
  • $112 million for the Centenary Bridge Upgrade in Brisbane 
  • $76 million for Stage 2 of the Riverway Drive Upgrade between Allambie Lane and Dunlop Street in Townsville
  • $42 million for the Mt Lindesay Highway Upgrade between Johanna Street and South Street in Jimboomba

Victoria

Federal Budget funding: $1.1 billion

Expected jobs created: 3,850 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: ~$1.6 billion

Key investments for Victoria include:

  • $320 million for the Shepparton Rail Line Upgrade
  • $208 million for Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Rail Line Upgrade
  • $292 million for the Barwon Heads Road Upgrade
  • $85 million to upgrade Hall Road in Cranbourne

Work on Stages 2 and 3 of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Rail Upgrade will also be accelerated with $605 million brought forward into the forward estimates.

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said, “These commitments will help to get the Victorian economy moving when restrictions are eased.”

Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, said the Government’s infrastructure package for Victoria would help the state economy claw its way back and provide certainty for business over the long term.

“This Government recognises the pain many Victorians are going through and we know that jobs and economic stimulus through targeted infrastructure are what is needed right now.”

Western Australia

Federal Budget funding: $1.1 billion

Expected jobs created: 6,800 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: ~$1.3 billion

Key investments for WA include:

  • $88 million for the Reid Highway Interchange with West Swan Road
  • $70 million for the Roe Highway Widening and Abernethy Road Upgrade
  • $16 million to undertake sealing of priority sections of the Goldfields Highway between Wiluna and Meekatharra
  • $16 million to undertake upgrades on the Broome-Cape Leveque Road and associated community access roads

Work on Roe Highway/Great Eastern Highway Bypass and Abernethy Road/Great Eastern Highway Bypass Interchanges, and the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network, will also be accelerated with $82 million brought forward into the forward estimates.

The Western Australian Government has welcomed the investment in the projects, which it said would help create thousands of local jobs and improve safety across the state.

The Western Australian Government is already spending $260 million a month on infrastructure, with $100 million of this funding in regional areas. 

Regional road safety is a major priority of the State Government, which is why it said it welcomed further funding for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network, and other regional road safety projects.

Funding for other major road projects, such as the Roe Highway interchange project, will allow the project scope to expand and to be progressed as soon as possible.

The Western Australian Government has also worked to fast track approvals and cut red tape for an additional eleven major transport infrastructure projects, worth $2.37 billion and estimated to create 13,000 local jobs.

South Australia

Federal Budget funding: $625 million 

Expected jobs created: 2,600 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: $785 million+

Key transport infrastructure investments for South Australia include:

  • $200 million for the Hahndorf Township Improvements and Access Upgrade 
  • $136 million for Stage 2 of the Main South Road Duplication between Aldinga and Sellicks Beach 
  • $100 million for the Strzelecki Track Upgrade

Tasmania

Federal Budget funding: $360 million

Expected jobs created: 2,200

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: $410 million+

Key transport infrastructure investments for Tasmania include:

  • $150 million for the Midway Point Causeway (including McGees Bridge) and Sorell Causeway as part of the Hobart to Sorell Roads of Strategic Importance corridor 
  • $65 million to upgrade the Tasman Bridge

The Tasmanian State Government welcomed the funding announcement, stating that the duplication of the Sorell Causeway will ‘complete the set’ for the state’s South East Traffic Solution, making huge improvements to the lives of commuters from the growing areas of Sorell and the Southern Beaches in terms of travel times, safety and amenity.

This funding builds on the $162.5 million already committed, including the Hobart Airport Interchange, the Midway Point intersection upgrade, the duplication from the airport to the western causeway, the Sorell southern bypass and the Arthur Highway overtaking lane (already completed). 

There is a heavy reliance on motor vehicles for transport in the Sorell region, and this massive package of projects being undertaken in partnership between the State and Federal Governments will also be of significant benefit to the productivity of the freight industry and enhance the tourist experience for those travelling to areas such as the East Coast and Tasman Peninsula.

This investment complements the Tasmanian Government’s two-year, $1.8 billion job-creating infrastructure investment program across the state, which has an estimated construction value of $3.1 billion and is expected to support 15,000 jobs.

The upgrade of the Tasman Bridge is set to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and provide upgrades to support future traffic growth. 

The funding package also includes upgrades to the Bass Highway between Deloraine and Devonport as part of a $200 million package of works for the Bass Highway, and $52 million for ongoing safety upgrades to the Midland Highway as part of Tasmania’s ten Year Action Plan.

Northern Territory

Federal Budget funding: $190 million 

Expected jobs created: 1,050 direct and indirect jobs across the territory

Total Federal infrastructure funding for COVID-19 recovery: $240 million+

Key investments for the Northern Territory include:

  • $120 million to upgrade the Carpentaria Highway 
  • $47 million for National Network Highway Upgrades

Australian Capital Territory

Federal Budget funding: $155 million 

Expected jobs created: 400 direct and indirect jobs across the state

Total Federal funding for COVID-19 recovery: $180 million+

Key transport infrastructure investments for the ACT include:

  • $88 million for the Molonglo River Bridge
  • $50 million for a South West Corridor upgrade package

$2 million Road Safety Program

An additional $2 billion over 18 months will be directed towards road safety initiatives, continuing efforts to reduce road trauma in Australia.

This funding will be under a new Road Safety Program to deliver an estimated 3,000km of lifesaving road improvements and support thousands of jobs right across the country. 

The program will deliver works such as new shoulder sealing, rumble strips to alert drivers they are moving out of their lane, median treatments to prevent head-on collisions and barriers to prevent run-off-road crashes and protect against roadside hazards.

The program will be delivered in three, six-month tranches and on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.

Funds that States and Territories do not spend will be re-allocated to those that can, with jurisdictions required to provide road safety data as a key condition of funding.

To monitor and evaluate its progress in this area, the Federal Government is also investing $5.5 million to establish a National Road Safety Data Hub. 

The Data Hub will establish the first nationally available road safety data collection to assess the effectiveness of road safety efforts by all Australian governments in the move towards the nationally agreed target of zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.

An additional $1 billion will also be allocated for local governments to enhance local road infrastructure through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This will also be on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.

This builds on the Federal Government’s initial $500 million announced in May 2020.

This investment, together with the new Road Safety Program will support around 10,000 jobs over the life of the projects.

Pouring funding into water infrastructure

The Government is building on its existing investment in water infrastructure projects with an additional $2 billion in funding for projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. 

This more than doubles the fund to a total of $3.5 billion. 

Key funding includes:

  • $325 million for Wyangala Dam
  • $242 million to the Dungowan Dam project

The additional funding is expected to deliver increased water security, build resilience in Australia’s regions, deliver jobs and grow the critical agriculture sector.

This long-term focus will help identify and build the dams, weirs, pipelines, water recycling plants and other projects that will deliver the National Water Grid – a series of region-specific systems that will help secure reliable supplies of water for rural and regional Australia now and into the future.

Infrastructure Australia receives funding

Infrastructure Australia has received additional funding in the 2020-21 Federal Budget to provide reform and investment advice in support of the infrastructure-led COVID recovery.

This funding will ensure Infrastructure Australia is resourced to:

  • Expand the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan to respond to COVID-19
  • Lead new research on the capacity of the infrastructure sector to deliver the investment pipeline
  • Conduct an 18-month comprehensive reset of the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework, the basis for inclusion on the Infrastructure Priority List.

In an extension of work first requested by the Prime Minister and other First Ministers at COAG in March 2020, Infrastructure Australia has been tasked with delivering annual analytical assessments of infrastructure market capacity.

100,000 new apprenticeship positions unlocked

The Federal Government will also invest an additional $1.2 billion to support Australian businesses to employ 100,000 new apprentices or trainees as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

From 5 October 2020, businesses who take on a new Australian apprentice will be eligible for a 50 per cent wage subsidy, regardless of geographic location, occupation, industry or business size.

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said apprenticeships are an important pathway to get young people into jobs and to ensure there is a skills pipeline to meet the future needs of employers.

“During this pandemic the Federal Government has been focused on supporting and creating jobs as well as identifying the skills we need in the economic rebuild,” the Prime Minister said.

“Already 760,000 jobs that were either lost or reduced to zero hours as the COVID crisis hit, have come back into our economy. 

“We want to continue to recover what has been lost and get young people into work.

“Whether it’s the manufacturing, housing and construction, arts or mining sectors – this new wage subsidy gives businesses certainty to hire and provides a career path to aspiring, young tradies.”

The subsidy will be available to employers of any size or industry, Australia-wide who engage an Australian apprentice or trainee from 5 October 2020 until the 100,000 cap is reached.

Under the new measure, employers will be eligible for 50 per cent of the wages for a new or recommencing apprentice or trainee for the period up to 30 September 2021, up to $7,000 per quarter.

For more information on the apprenticeship measure, click here

Road sector responds

Roads Australia (RA) welcomed the Federal Budget’s focus on investment in transport infrastructure and workforce capacity.

RA CEO, Michael Kilgariff, said, “Investment in transport infrastructure is always important, but is especially so as Australia looks to emerge from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The suite of investments in major transport infrastructure projects included as part of the Budget will provide a vital injection of construction activity at a critical time.

“This will be central in national efforts to boost employment growth, as well as delivering the wider productivity and social benefits that flow from enhanced transport infrastructure.  

Mr Kilgariff said RA also welcomed the road safety, data hub, and local initiatives laid out in the Budget. 

“The funding commitments are also important in providing certainty to industry about a reliable pipeline of future work opportunities,” Mr Kilgraff said.

“In such a volatile global economic climate, it is essential that companies are able to plan for the future with confidence.”

Rail industry welcomes funding

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the measures confirmed the essential role rail would play in creating jobs and getting the economy back on its feet again.

“We are pleased to see rail projects across the country funded or fast tracked in this year’s budget,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The flow-on benefits of rail investment will be significant as new projects bring more jobs and sustainable infrastructure that will deliver community benefits for years to come.

“The investment in regional rail upgrades will be a huge boost for the regions, with the promise of new jobs and improved access to city centres.

“New funding for high capacity signalling will help drive efficiency and safety gains in WA as the METRONET project is rolled out.”

The transformational impact of Inland Rail was also recognised with key funding for grade separating for additional road interfaces in New South Wales, the Inland Port in Narrabri and Ettamogah Rail Hub.

Ms Wilkie also welcomed funding for further planning for faster rail from Sydney to Newcastle in NSW and Perth to Bunbury in WA, while the Gold Coast faster rail business case was brought forward. 

“The future of rail in Australia will rely first on improvements to existing infrastructure, followed by the development of new, faster rail connections,” Ms Wilkie said.

“We must get the planning for faster rail right to help realise the potential growth for regional centres if commuters can make the most of more flexible work in a post pandemic world.”

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