$4.7bn package to fast-track road, rail projects

Rudd Government unveils $4.7 billion infrastructure package to accelerate key road and rail projects

The Rudd Government has unveiled a $4.7 billion infrastructure package to accelerate key road and rail projects to offset the impact of slowing economy.

Rudd says the package will increase GDP and create up to 32,000 Australian jobs.

The money will be spent across three areas, with $1.2 billion going to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), $711 million for roads and the Black Spots program and $1.6 billion will be spent on university and TAFE infrastructure.

The infrastructure package also changes business taxes, with the Government putting in place a 10 percent temporary investment allowance to encourage businesses to invest.

It will also cut by 20 percent the next quarterly pay-as-you-go tax instalment for 1.3 million small businesses.

The funding is designed to build on top of previous spending initiatives for councils, the car industry and the $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy.

In announcing the package, Rudd said more infrastructure projects would be announced from the Building Australia Fund next year.

The $1.2 billion for the ARTC will be spent over the next two years on 17 projects to improve the reliability and competitiveness of the rail freight network.

Multi-million dollar rail upgrades

Rudd says $580 million will be spent expanding the capacity of the rail corridors connecting Hunter Valley coal mines to the Port of Newcastle.

He says the $1 billion project will more than double the amount of coal being transported to export markets from 97 to 200 million tonnes a year.

Other Rail projects funded today include:

• $55.8 million for Queensland border to Acacia Ridge track upgrade
• $45.1 million for Sydney to Brisbane line – new, extended and upgraded loops
• $29.7 million for Melbourne to Junee line – passing lanes
• $45 million for Seymour to Wodonga track upgrade
• $91.5 million for Cootamundra to Parkes track upgrade
• $105.7 million for Western Victoria track upgrade
• $50 million for Wodonga Bypass duplication
• $42 million for Cootamundra to Crystal Brook line – new and extended loops
• $76 million for Melbourne to Adelaide line – extended loops
• $23 million Adelaide to Kalgoorlie line – new and extended loops
• $45 million towards the $90 million Advanced Train Management System (ATMS) trial set to bring train management into the digital age

$711 Million for road projects

The $711 million for road funding will be brought forward to accelerate 14 projects, and more than doubles funding for the Black Spots program from $50 million to $110 million.

Other road construction projects bought forward by this package include:

• NSW Hume Highway – Woomargama Bypass
• NSW Hume Highway – Tarcutta Bypass
• NSW Pacific Highway – Bulahdelah Bypass
• NSW Pacific Highway – Sexton’s Hill, Banora Point
• QLD Ipswich Motorway – Dinmore to Goodna
• QLD Pacific Motorway – Springwood South to Daisy Hill
• QLD Bruce Highway – Douglas Arterial
• VIC Western Ring Road Upgrade
• VIC Goulburn Valley Highway – Nagambie Bypass
• VIC Western Highway – Anthony’s Cutting
• VIC Princes Highway – Traralgon to Sale
• WA Mandurah Entrance Road
• SA Northern Expressway
• TAS Midland Highway – Brighton Bypass

The Government will also use $195 million to invest in agricultural and social infrastructure around Kununurra following a government assessment.

The $1.6 billion set aside for education will be used fast-track investment, with $580 million going to 11 projects related to research facilities.

A one-off $500 million injection into public skills and training infrastructure will also be granted.

Rudd says the second of the tax breaks will provide much-needed cash flow to small businesses over the summer period.

Industry reaction>

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomed the ivnestment, saying it will go a long way in fixing bottlenecks described by the ALC in a previously released report.

"Today’s announcement is an important step towards addressing the backlog of work required and will be targeted to clearing the blockages on our rail network," ALC Chief Executive Hal Morris says.

"However, it should be remembered, that a lot more will need to follow to deliver a truly competitive and efficient rail system."

Morris says the decision to also bring forward road funding recognises the majority of freight still needs to be carried on road.

But he called on state governments to follow Rudd's lead in committing extra funding for supply chain infrastructure.

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