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An $11.4 Billion Boost For Australia's Roads And Railways

Australian Coat of Arms

The Hon John Anderson MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of The Nationals
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Senator the Hon Ian Campbell
Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads

TRS1/Budget 11 May 2004

The Australian Government has today announced $11.4 billion in funding to transform the way Australia plans and funds its roads and railways.

Today's announcement consists of almost $11 billion in road and rail funding over the next five years and a one-off, $450 million grant in 2003-04 for investment in the rail system.

It is a $1.9 billion increase in funding for Australia's major roads and railways, and a $3.1 billion increase when the extension of the Roads to Recovery programme is included.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Senator Ian Campbell, announced the massive increase in funding today.

"The increase is due to AusLink, the Government's new land transport plan. Today we are announcing the funding arrangements for AusLink, which will incorporate the National Highway system and many Roads of National Importance into a broader and more strategic network of transport corridors, including Australia's key rail links," Mr Anderson said.

"The Government will announce the new AusLink National Network in a detailed White Paper to be released on 7 June.

"The White Paper will set out a series of major new land transport projects beyond the ones detailed in today's Budget. The new projects will start to give effect to the Government's strategic vision for the AusLink National Network. They will improve the safety of Australia's major highways, and make it quicker and cheaper to transport freight around the country."

The Australian Government's funding for the new projects is included in the allocation for land transport infrastructure announced in this Budget.

More land transport funding under AusLink

Senator Campbell said the highlights of the Government's funding included:

  • An additional $1.9 billion in funding for Australia's major roads and railways, including the $450 million grant in 2003-04 for the Australian Rail Track Corporation;
  • $1,453.1 million for the Roads to Recovery programme, which the Government has extended until 2008-09. The programme helps local councils maintain and upgrade their local roads. From 1 July 2005, it will include a strategic component to help councils to work together on local transport projects of strategic regional importance;
  • $2,550.3 million in untied local road grants; and
  • $90.0 million under the National Black Spot Programme, to eliminate crash sites on our roads.

Mr Anderson said the ARTC was the Australian Government-owned corporation that managed a substantial part of Australia's interstate mainline track. The Australian and New South Wales Governments agreed last year that the ARTC would lease the New South Wales interstate and Hunter Valley rail networks for 60 years.

The ARTC is already planning to invest $872.0 million over the next five years in the NSW interstate and Hunter Valley rail networks. The $450 million grant is in addition to its existing investment programme.

"The Government's forecasters predict that the amount of freight on our roads will double over the next 20 years; interstate road freight will almost triple. Passenger travel is forecast to rise by 40 percent," Mr Anderson said.

"It's essential that we increase the proportion of freight carried by rail, particularly between Melbourne and Brisbane, where it only accounts for 20 percent of the land transport market. The extra $450 million that we are providing in 2003-04 will mean that the ARTC can carry out important new rail projects, which will be set out in the White Paper."

Senator Campbell said the funding incorporated $810.0 million over three years, commencing in 2006-07, that would be saved through the Government's decision to wind up the Fuel Sales Grants Scheme. The Scheme provides grants to fuel retailers of between one and three cents per litre on fuel sold outside metropolitan areas.

"The Fuel Taxation Inquiry in 2002 noted that in practice it had been difficult to ensure the scheme's benefits were actually passed on to consumers. We believe that the best way to reduce transport costs in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas is to improve travel times by upgrading our roads and railways," he said.

The AusLink funding includes $1,500 million over five years for maintenance work on the road component of the AusLink National Network.

A factsheet on the AusLink funding arrangements is included in this kit.

Media contacts:

Paul Chamberlain Deputy Prime Minister's office 02 62777680 / 0419 233989
Wayne Grant Senator Campbell's office 02 62777060 / 0407 845280