ACT wants Infrastructure Australia to fund key freight project

By: Jason Whittaker

ACT Chief Minister John Stanhope has written to Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese outlining a wish list of

ACT Chief Minister John Stanhope has written to Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese outlining a wish list of infrastructure investments which include a hub to increase road freight productivity.

Following a request by the Rudd Government for state and territory jurisdictions to outline where they think the $20 billion from the Building Australia fund should be spent, Stanhope has listed the construction of the Majura Parkway as a priority.

He says the project is essential in playing a key role in any future development of the Canberra airport as a freight hub. Furthermore, Stanhope says it will deliver significant benefits to trucking operators using the Monaro and Federal Highways.

But the Majura Parkway proposal is one of a number of initiatives Stanhope wants funded. He has also listed rail projects the ACT Government believes need to be considered by Infrastructure Australia.

Firstly, Stanhope wants a light rail system that links Civic to the airport, the parliamentary triangle and major town centres. The Government estimates this will cost about $1 billion.
Coupled with this is a train linking three or four eastern capitals, including Canberra.

Stanhope’s wish list also includes requests for a major solar power station as well as funding to enlarge Cotter dam from four to 78 gigalitres, the Murrumbidgee-to-Googong project, a back-up power line and a high-pressure trunk gas main.

Stanhope indicated an expectation the initiatives will be bankrolled, saying they align with the Rudd Government’s commitment to funding key infrastructure projects.

"I believe the ACT’s identified projects match well with the Rudd Government’s stated priorities of helping Australian industry get its goods to market quickly and cheaply and improving the functioning and quality of life in cities and regional centres," Stanhope says.

A spokesman for Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese says jursidictions were to have their proposals to Infrastructure Australia by the end of the financial year.

He says the body has received proposals from all states and territories. However, only NSW and the ACT have publicly released theirs.

The Building Australia Fund was established by the Rudd Government in its first Budget. The $20 billion fund will start allocating money in 2009-10.

Infrastructure Australia, a 12-member body established by the Government and eld by Sir Rod Eddington, is currently undertaking an audit into the state of Australia’s infrastructure.

The Government intends to use the audit, to be completed by the end of the year, to prioritise infrastructure projects. Part of Infrastructure Australia’s role will be to develop a priority list to guide investment.

The former chairman of the National Transport Comission (NTC), Michael Deegan, was appointed the inaugural infrastructure coordinator to oversee the day-to-day workings of the government body. He took up the post on July 1.

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