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Spending Boost for Infrastructure for Australia's Future

Minister for Transport and Regional Services - Warren Truss
002TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

Tonight's Budget announces spending of $5.0 billion for transport infrastructure nationwide in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

The Australian Government will fund important nation-building infrastructure, including the building of many kilometres of new freeways connecting capitals with regional centres. New rail and road initiatives will improve transport links between capitals and to ports to enable them to better deliver cargo, relieve traffic congestion and improve safety in our regions and cities to ensure that freight systems operate as efficiently as possible.

"The Australian Government will boost to $2.6 billion its spending on the land transport system in 2006-07 under its coordinated AusLink strategy to help sustain national growth with much-needed infrastructure," the Australian Government Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, said today.

"In addition, an extra $2.4 billion, including money brought forward for the Tully project in Queensland, will be provided under AusLink in 2005-06 to accelerate key infrastructure projects around the country. That brings to $5.0 billion, the total amount the Australian Government is contributing to providing national road and rail infrastructure in this Budget," he said.

"Our spending on transport over the first five years of AusLink to mid-2009 has been boosted from $12.7 billion to $15.0 billion.

"We are working with the states and territories to progress 24 strategic corridor studies, covering all our major transport routes, with the aim to have them completed by July 2007.

"These cooperative long-term plans for each transport link will identify transport needs within a corridor and the priorities for meeting those needs. They will provide a basis for making decisions on future project planning and construction timeframes," Mr Truss said.

Spending highlights

The highlights of the Budget are:

New South Wales: The Government will make available $800.0 million immediately for a package of works that will dramatically speed up duplication of the Hume Highway in Southern New South Wales such that only about 20 km of the highway will remain two lane by the end of 2009. This is consistent with the Government's objective for a four lane Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne by 2012.

The Government will spend $40.0 million in 2006-07 to bring forward by three years the conversion of the F3 Freeway to six lanes all the way from Kariong to Wahroonga. Construction of the Weakleys Drive interchange will proceed, with $10.0 million provided this year.

The Pacific Highway will receive $143.9 million in 2006-07 for ongoing upgrading and for five new projects, including the Bonville Deviation, south of Coffs Harbour, and a start on the Ballina bypass. Funds of $75.0 million have also been brought forward into the 2005-06 financial year. And an extra $160.0 million has been provided in 2005-06, with matching funds to be provided by the New South Wales Government, to accelerate the duplication works.

Victoria: The Deer Park bypass will receive $47.0 million in 2006-07 to allow construction to start later this year. New rail and road links serving the Port of Melbourne will receive $30.0 million. A new Hume Highway interchange at Donnybrook Road has been allocated $5.0 million.

Bypasses of Geelong and Pakenham receive ongoing funding to maintain construction momentum. The Calder Highway duplication will receive a $40.0 million funding injection in 2006-07.

The Arcadia section duplication on the Goulburn Valley Highway will start in mid-2006. It receives $14 million in 2006-07.

Queensland: Funding for major metropolitan infrastructure projects in Brisbane rises dramatically, including $67.0 million for ongoing widening of the Caboolture Motorway to six lanes and $55.0 million to start building the Ipswich Motorway-Logan Motorway interchange and a $10.0 million allocation to start work on a four-lane upgrade for the highway through Gympie.

In 2005-06, $128.0 million is provided for Bruce Highway flood improvements near Tully (including the bringing forward of funds from later years to speed up construction). In order to improve the condition of the highway in North Queensland, the Australian Government tonight also makes available an additional $220.0 million for various highway improvements between Townsville and Cairns.

Townsville's ring road will receive $12.3 million and the second range crossing at Toowoomba $5.0 million in 2006-07.

Western Australia: $15.0 million is allocated to the Perth-Bunbury Highway. Work will start this year and the 71 km of new road will open in 2009, cutting up to 34 minutes off a journey between Bunbury and Perth. The Government will pay $1.0 million towards an upgraded rail link between the Kewdale intermodal freight facility and the Port of Fremantle. Another $16.5 million will be spent upgrading, widening and adding extra passing lanes to the Great Northern Highway north of Perth.

The Great Northern Highway and the Great Eastern and Eyre Highways will be boosted by a total of $323.0 million in 2005-06.

South Australia: In 2005-06, South Australia will receive an additional $100.0 million to upgrade the Sturt Highway between Gawler and Nurioopta. The Government will also invest $39.0 million in 2006-07 in stages 2 and 3 of the Port River Expressway and a new road and rail upgrade for the Le Fevre Peninsula to improve freight movement through the port at Outer Harbor. A $3.75 million contribution will be directed to upgrading West Avenue in the Edinburgh Park industrial precinct. Planning proceeds for a new Northern Expressway for Adelaide.

Tasmania: The Government allocates $2.0 million to enable planning and pre-construction work ahead of a future start on a new Bridgewater Bridge, while $18.0 million will be provided towards duplicating the last section of two-lane highway linking Devonport and Burnie on the North-West Coast. A $78.0 million rescue package for Tasmania's railways remains on the table. Tasmania will receive an additional $60.0 million in 2005-06 to upgrade the East Tamar Highway.

Northern Territory: With a schedule of works to be agreed between the Australian and Northern Territory governments, the AusLink Network in the Northern Territory receives $6.0 million for a programme of road widening and rehabilitation. The Government will invest $1.8 million developing a solution to prevent floodwaters closing the Victoria Highway at the Victoria River. An additional $30.0 million has been provided in 2005-06 to the Victoria Highway.

Australian Capital Territory: $540,000 will be provided for repairs to the Barton and Federal highways. The Government has committed $2.0 million to bringing forward project development for duplication of the Barton Highway between the ACT border and the northern end of the proposed Murrumbateman bypass.

Big boost in rail spending cuts transit times

Mr Truss said the rail infrastructure programme would accelerate in 2006-07 now that the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) had signed major alliance contracts for work in the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor.

"The ARTC receives an extra $270.0 million in 2005-06 for additional track upgrades. This investment will improve track performance, allowing heavier trains to operate faster and more safely, especially in the North-South corridor," he said.

"In addition, the Australian Government will provide $75.0 million in 2006-07 for rail track works. This expenditure will complement investment totalling $533.0 million by the ARTC on the interstate and Hunter Valley networks.

"About $320.0 million of the ARTC funds will be directed to the Melbourne-Sydney line and $136.0 million to the Sydney-Brisbane rail corridor. The ARTC will also spend $77.0 million in the Hunter Valley to ensure that rail capacity can meet the demands of the coal industry.

"The Government will invest $16.5 million in 2006-07 ($42.0 million total commitment) to build a fully interoperable communications system for the non-metropolitan elements of the interstate rail network.

"Together with other substantial improvements over the next three years, the infrastructure works on the North-South rail corridor will result in a reduction in a Sydney-Melbourne train journey from 13 hours 10 minutes to 10 hours 40 minutes for 1500 metre super freighters and 11 hours 30 minutes for 1800 metre super freighters. Transit time for Sydney-Brisbane for 1500 metre super freighters will be cut by four hours.

"These improved transit times are expected to increase rail's competitiveness in the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane freight market," Mr Truss said.

"It is now up to train operators to take advantage of the improvements in rail infrastructure being funded by the Australian Government and the ARTC to become more competitive with road transport."

Partnerships to improve local roads

The Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, said the Australian Government had earmarked $2.0 billion from AusLink for local council road improvements in the financial years 2004-05 to 2008-09. The total comprises $1.48 billion from the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme, $307.5 million to be provided in 2005-06 as a supplement to Roads to Recovery and $220.0 million under the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme.

This money is over and above annual untied Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) for roads. In 2006-07, councils will receive $515.2 million for roads through FAGs. South Australian councils receive a special local roads payment of $13.0 million in 2006-07.

"Local government has demonstrated it can be a valuable partner in spending this considerable Australian Government funding for roads responsibly, according to local priorities," Mr Lloyd said.

"The Department of Transport and Regional Services is assessing applications from councils for unallocated funding under the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme and successful applicants will be notified later in the year," Mr Lloyd said.

Saving lives by fixing black spots

Mr Lloyd said the Australian Government would also spend $44.5 million in 2006-07 fixing more than 320 crash sites and saving lives under the AusLink Black Spot Programme. "On past performance, the programme can be expected to prevent an estimated 500 casualty crashes in 2006-07," he said.

"It is unique among the suite of government land transport investments in that it targets funding to the worst crash sites, usually for remedial treatments such as traffic signals, turning lanes, roundabouts and improved lighting.

"For every dollar outlaid on black spot solutions, the community reaps a benefit estimated at $14. Averaged out, Australia's annual decrease in the number of deaths from road crashes since 2000 is about 2.1 per cent," Mr Lloyd said.

Attached is a table showing the breakdown of AusLink spending by state and territory and also by programme for 2006-07.

Media contacts:
Mr Truss' office - Kylie Butler 02 6277 7680 / 0417 652 488
Mr Lloyd's office - Fiona Telford 02 6277 7060 / 0407 908 504

Australian Government Land Transport Infrastructure Programme - 2006-07

AusLink Investment Programme
AusLink Black Spot Programme
AusLink Strategic Regional Roads
AusLink Roads to Recovery
Total AusLink Programme
Upgrade of the Main line Interstate Railway Track  
Additional funding for SA local roads        
Federation Fund  
Untied Local Road Grants
TOTAL 2006-07

Figures may not add precisely to totals due to rounding.