Brumby opens the kitty for transport

Victorian Budget sets aside millions in road projects along with cuts to payroll tax and premiums

By Samantha Freestone | May 5, 2010

The Brumby Government has dished out almost $5 billion to the transport and communications sectors as part of a $44.9 billon budget handed down yesterday.

Premier John Brumby says the Budget is "good for business and good for jobs."

Treasurer John Lenders announced $4.3 billion for regional rail links.

But most of the funds will go to pedestrian rail, with only $2 million secured for planning of the future network of metropolitan freight terminals.

The Government announced $129.2 for regional and rural roads, including the $35 million upgrade of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale.

Other road projects include:

• $76.9 million for Geelong Ring Road (Section 4C Surf Coast Highway Connection)
• $66.5 million to upgrade key routes in Melbourne's outer suburbs
• A state investment of $60.6 million towards a joint federal and Victorian ‘major projects’ collaboration worth $230.6 million
• $22.6 million for additional maintenance for roads
• $19.3 million for noise walls along the Monash Freeway
• $1 million for a planning study for the Dandenong grade separation
• $25.6 million to duplicate Clyde Road adding an extra lane in each direction between High Street and Kangan Drive
• $1.5 million for new traffic lights at the Calder Highway and Golden Square – Long Gully Road intersection at West Bendigo
• $2 million for intersection improvements on Ballarat-Buninyong Road at Mount Clear.

Minister for Roads and Port Tim Pallas says the 2010 State Budget delivers $19.3 million towards the Victorian Transport Plan but the only project to be funded was the upgrade noise barriers on the Monash Freeway.

"Local communities along the Monash Freeway will benefit from works to reduce the impact of traffic noise, including trialing new technologies at selected locations," he says.

"We’re taking action to address concerns about freeway noise and we’ve already spent more than $160 million on more than 25 noise wall upgrades, including from Commonwealth funded road upgrades."

New automated number plate recognition technology will be implemented at a cost of $16.7 million.

The move follows an increase in detection of unregistered vehicles, unauthorised drivers and fine defaulters.

Payroll tax will be cut by half a percentage point from 4.95 per cent to 4.9 per cent from July 1 this year.

Lenders says 31,000 Victorian businesses will benefit from $193 million worth of payroll tax cuts over the next four years thanks to the reduction.

Victorian businesses with a payroll between $5.5 million and $17.95 million will pay the lowest payroll tax in Australia.

"We said we would build on our reputation for cutting business taxes as soon as we could and today the Brumby Labor Government delivers on that promise.

"Victoria will now have its lowest rate of payroll tax in 35 years," Lenders says.

WorkCover premiums will also cut by 3.5 per cent – a $240 million cut over four years under the new budget.

Minister for Finance and WorkCover Tim Holding says this will take the average premium rate to 1.34 per cent of an employer’s rateable remuneration next financial year.

"Victoria has the best WorkCover scheme in Australia, offering generous benefits for injured workers and lower premiums for employers," he says.

"WorkCover premiums are now at a historic low, making it even more competitive to run a business in Victoria, and in an environment where premiums are increasing in other states."

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