Australia is and has been the lucky country throughout our history.
But when it comes to the economy and our unbroken 28 years of growth, it has taken more than luck to get us to where we are now and where we’re going.
Expanding Australia’s road and rail network is an area of policy that delivers tangible benefits to everyday families – getting people to and from work sooner and safer so they can spend more time with their families, but also driving jobs and investment that help grow the economy.
That economic growth isn’t some abstract concept – it’s what helps fund the schools, the hospitals, the aged care and childcare that we all rely on. And investing in infrastructure is a key plank to supporting that economic growth.
In fact, my government’s plan for a stronger economy means we can boost investments in new and expanded roads and rail.
This week I announced we would be bringing forward or committing new federal investment to $3.8bn worth of infrastructure work over the next four years. That includes $1.8bn this year and next.
It means more jobs and a stronger economy – without the kneejerk fiscal responses that defined the Labor years and that the opposition these days runs around tearing at their hair and calling for.
We’re getting people home sooner and safer: whether it’s the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the Tonkin Highway in Western Australia, the Princes Highway in NSW, the Monash in Melbourne or the North-South Corridor in Adelaide among hundreds of projects already under way or in the planning phase.
And we’re doing it with careful, considered investment that will not only boost jobs now but that will help the economy and the liveability of our regions and cities well into the future.
In Queensland we’re bringing forward nearly $650m in funding for 20 projects – including key upgrades on the M1, Bruce, Warrego and Cunningham highways, and the north coast rail line – and providing more than $680m in new funding. This is on top of extra funding for the Gold Coast light rail, ensuring the next stage of the project is now fully funded.
The South Australian package includes the acceleration of more than $328m in federal funding across six projects as well as extra funding for the Darlington upgrade and Flinders link projects as part of the North-South Corridor, while bringing forward funding for the Eyre Highway and Horrocks Highway corridors, Victor Harbor Road duplication and a major rural roads safety upgrade.
In Western Australia, we’re bringing forward $817m of federal infrastructure investment for eight vital projects over the next four years, including the Tonkin Highway Gap, the Port Augusta to Perth corridor and the Bunbury outer ring road.
In NSW, we’re bringing forward funding of about $510m for three major projects: the Princes Highway (including the Milton-Ulladulla bypass) and upgrades to the Newell Highway and the NSW section of the Toowoomba to Seymour road corridor.
We’re putting $24m of new funding into two existing projects, including the final link of the vital Pacific Highway upgrade. We’ve also locked in $8.8m for the Brig O’Johnston Bridge at Clarence Town and $7.9m for the Davey Road interchange in Albury.
And on Thursday we announced a $514m boost for the Victorian economy to accelerate projects that will reduce congestion and make regional roads safer – from the Monash Freeway to the North East Link and several railway car park projects.
There will be further announcements to come on projects in the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania. Around the nation, we want to get things happening now because that’s what the Australian people elected us to do.
It’s why straight after the election I sat down with all the premiers and chief ministers and asked them to tell us what projects could be brought forward and how quickly.
Our government is committed to dealing with challenges to the economy – like all issues – practically and soberly: with real and proper projects that have been carefully considered and carry long-term benefits.
It’s the opposite of what we saw from Labor’s panic and crisis stimulus: cash splashes, overpriced school halls and the like.
The last thing our economy needs is reckless spending, dressed up as a sugar hit. This disrespects the taxpayer and smacks of panic. Such spending is here today, gone tomorrow, with the only legacy being the debt that it leaves behind. Instead, delivering critical road and rail projects sooner – as part of our $100bn pipeline – will put more money in people’s pockets now and in the future.
With the fast-tracking of our infrastructure funding, the government will have injected an extra $9.5bn into the economy over this year and next, including $7.2bn in legislated tax relief and $550m more in supporting regional and rural communities through the drought.
My focus is on backing the stability and certainty that supports jobs, grows our economy, protects our environment, delivers world-class services – and enables Australians everywhere to plan their future with confidence.
Originally published in The Australian