NSW and SA Budgets garner industry praise


Projects tacking congestion and upgrades most welcome

NSW and SA Budgets garner industry praise
Road infrastructure building attracts big Budgetpledges

 

Industry groups mostly welcome the South Australian and New South Wales budgets but they are not beyond throwing in a brickbat here or there.

The SA government is right to crow about its hefty allocation for road infrastructure in its 2021-22 Budget, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says.

NatRoad singles out the announcement of continued funding for the Adelaide North-South Corridor as good news for heavy vehicle operators.

"The commitment to fixing the 10.5 kilometre section between River Torrens and Darlington (T2D) is the final piece of the North-South Corridor," CEO Warren Clark says.

"South Road used to be a dual lane road with many issues including poor traffic flow issues due to a high number of controlled intersections.

"Most heavy vehicles had to use the right-hand lane rather than staying in the left because of the camber of the road and the positioning of power poles.

"Once the River Torrens to Darlington section is completed it will provide a limited access thoroughfare from north of Gawler to the southern suburbs."

"We’ve already seen improvements with earlier work on the North-South Corridor and it’s satisfying to know that the SA and Commonwealth governments have listened and are acting."

NatRoad applauds the $202 million for the Truro Bypass and upgrade of the Sturt Highway which will improve access for freight vehicles.

A $105 million commitment for SA’s Road Safety Package on top of earlier funding and a $36 million refurbishment of the Old Murray Bridge were other welcome big-ticket items.


Read about the SA Budget spending pledges, here


North South Corridor costs have blown out by $1 billion to $9.9 billion total, but this secures a third lane in each direction plus an allowance for emergency services, the SA Freight Council (SAFC) observes.

"This is a significant design improvement, and assists in ‘future-proofing’ SA’s biggest ever transport infrastructure project," it says.

"Most pleasing from a SAFC perspective is the significant increase in road maintenance expenditure – up to $283 million in 2021/22 on the back of both state and Commonwealth Covid Stimulus measures.

"This is enough that we expect the road maintenance backlog to actually decline for the first time in a decade (at least).

"However, the improvement is predicated on significant stimulus money which ceases in 2022/23.

"Thus, road maintenance will remain a SAFC advocacy priority to maintain this momentum; along with our strong allies in the RAA and SA Chamber of Mines and Energy.

"Lastly, most of you will have seen the announcement that the Hove level crossing project has been cancelled.

"While this is not a critical issue for freight, the treasurer announced in the Budget lock-up that this has resulted in $170m in ‘transport contingency funding’ in the Budget – which would form a substantial election war chest for the March 2022 poll. We will be watching this space with interest."

NSW

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) welcomed the NSW Budget as a step towards both the reduction of red tape as well as investment in the critical infrastructure.

The ALC also welcomes the promise in NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s Budget speech to report every six months on the progress in implementing contents of the state Productivity Commission’s White Paper.

However, ALC interim CEO Rachel Smith notes that missing from the Budget with indication of the progress of the whole of government evaluation on the costs and benefits of permanently removing regulations relaxed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as curfews restricting the movement of freight.

"The evaluation was an important feature of the last Budget," Smith says.

"It is therefore important the state of the evaluation process should be reported on as part of the Budget and not in six months' time. ALC hopes that progress can be reported through the estimates committee process.

"ALC hopes that progress can be reported through the Estimates Committee process."

Also missing was plans to address the failure to meet the "badly missed" Port Botany rail freight target of 28 per cent of the total landside task by this year – a "disappointing aspect of the Budget".

"The intention behind the target is to significantly reduce the number of heavy vehicles on Sydney’s roads, and so reduce the impacts congestion has on productivity," Smith says.

"It is imperative the government take immediate steps to ensure this long long-missed target is actually met."

ALC backs the investment in the:

  • Sydney Gateway motorway connecting the WestConnex St Peter’s Interchange to the Airport and Port Botany Precinct, "which will play an important role in improving freight access to and from the State’s principal ports"
  • Parkes Special Activation Precinct, "which will facilitate the efficient operation of the Inland Rail project and so allow rail to take an increasing amount of the freight share, removing pressure on NSW’s roads".

However, Smith warns against under-delivering on infrastructure commitments.

She notes Perrottet’s reported quote about labour labour and skills shortages

"So that industry can make plans, it is imperative that the government keeps the community abreast of any delays in infrastructure development arising from workforce constraints," Smith says.

For its part, NatRoad sees much of the funding for ongoing projects such as WestConnex and Western Sydney Growth Roads as "expected but welcome".

CEO Warren Clark is critical of the delayed start to construction of the Sydney Gateway connecting Sydney Airport and Port Botany to the city’s motorways network, saying the $1.1 billion commitment was "long overdue".

"Construction of the new Sydney airport and associated development is clearly a huge driver of much of what’s in this Budget," he says.

"We’re certainly delighted to see the $899.7 million over the next four years for the Western Sydney Growth Roads program, which will make heavy vehicle movement safer and more efficient.

"We also welcome the focus on key regional roads which recognises their importance to the national freight task."

Clark says freight times would improve with a $2 billion commitment over four years to continue the transformation of the Princes Highway in Northern NSW.

"Commencement of the Coffs Harbour Bypass, the Great Western Highway Upgrade program between Katoomba-Lithgow and Kelso to Raglan and $52.6 million for continuing Barton Highway improvements are some of the other regional highlights.

"NSW and Commonwealth government funding will continue priority projects including the Mount Ousley Interchange, the Milton Ulladulla and Moruya Bypasses and construction of the Nowra and Batemans Bay bridges."

Clark singles two smaller announcements – $37 million for the duplication of Heathcote Road between Heathcote and Holsworthy and $14 million for the duplication of Picton Road between Mt Ousley and Wilton – as worthy of note.

"The funding is for planning work but many NatRoad members will be relieved to see both projects pick up pace," Clark says.

"Improving safety and connectivity on Picton Road was added to the Infrastructure Australia Priority List two years ago, in recognition of it as a key link for the Illawarra Region, South Coast, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne."

 

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