Australian Government, 2013-14 Budget

Statement 1: Budget Overview (Continued)

Investing in nation building infrastructure

This Budget announces the next wave of the Government's flagship Nation Building Program that is delivering high‑quality infrastructure projects to boost Australia's productive capacity. The Government will invest a further $24 billion on roads, rail and ports from 2014‑15 to 2018‑19, building on the $36 billion already invested over the six years to 2013‑14. This means that the Government will have invested around $60 billion on essential infrastructure from 2008‑09 to 2018‑19. The projects funded through this investment will enhance liveability, and the movement of goods and people in urban and regional areas. This will improve the connection between the farm gate and Australia's domestic markets and export gateways, helping to reduce business costs and enhance Australia's overall wellbeing.

Building Australia's future infrastructure

This Budget commits to further infrastructure investment which will benefit Australians across the country. The Government has identified the nation's future infrastructure priorities, and is providing funding towards key projects in both urban and regional areas. For example, in our regions, the Government has allocated a further $2.3 billion to 2020‑21 for critical infrastructure projects under Stream 2 of the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF). This builds on the Government's initial $916.0 million commitment under Stream 1 of the RIF.

In Queensland, the Government is investing $4.1 billion in the State's most important piece of road infrastructure, the Bruce Highway, over the 10 years from 2012‑13. This brings the Government's total commitment to the Highway to $5.7 billion since 2008. This additional funding will improve road safety and enhance flood resilience on this key corridor, supporting the nation's economic development by enabling valuable freight to keep moving during the wet season.

The Government is also providing $715.0 million to fund the much needed Brisbane Cross River Rail project. The project, identified as a national 'priority' by Infrastructure Australia, will significantly increase the capacity of Brisbane's inner city rail network. The Government is also investing $718.0 million to upgrade and widen Brisbane's Gateway North Motorway, and $317.5 million in a package of works to improve safety and capacity on the Warrego Highway between Toowoomba and Miles.

This Budget also invests in Victoria's infrastructure needs, providing $3.0 billion to the Melbourne Metro rail project to upgrade rail capacity to meet the growing demands on Melbourne's train network in the medium and long term. This key project, also identified as a national 'priority' by Infrastructure Australia, will help to reduce traffic congestion by providing commuters with greatly improved public transport options. The Government is also investing $525.1 million to complete the widening of Melbourne's M80 Ring Road.

In New South Wales, the Government continues to invest in productivity enhancing infrastructure to relieve bottlenecks and urban congestion, thereby reducing business costs. The Government is making a $1.8 billion provision towards the Sydney Motorways (M4 extension and M5 duplication), subject to the New South Wales Government meeting a number of preconditions. These include ensuring that the road connects directly to the city and Port Botany and that new tolls are not imposed on existing un‑tolled roads. In addition, the Government is partnering with the New South Wales Government and Transurban to build a tunnel linking the F3 with the M2. The Government is contributing $400.0 million to ensure that this much needed 'missing link' in the Sydney motorway network is built. The project is an example of the Government working with the private sector and State governments to deliver nationally significant infrastructure projects.

In Western Australia, this Budget is providing $500.0 million to assist in the delivery of a public transport project in Perth, either the Perth Light Rail project or the construction of a new rail link to the city's airport. The Government is also investing $900.1 million in Western Australia's regions through the RIF, including $418.3 million in the Perth to Darwin National Highway (Swan Valley Bypass) and $307.8 million to improve the Great Northern Highway between Muchea and Wubin.

The Government is funding infrastructure needs in South Australia, with $448.0 million being provided for the South Road upgrade in Adelaide, building on the previously funded South Road Superway, and in Tasmania, where the Government is providing $500.0 million over 10 years towards a package of works to upgrade the Midland Highway. This will enhance traffic flows between Hobart and Launceston for both freight and commuters, and deliver improved road safety outcomes.

All of these investments demonstrate that the Government is funding nation building infrastructure projects right around the country.

A new way of thinking about infrastructure

The Government recognises that the future growth of infrastructure will require a new approach to funding and financing, to make us stronger for the future. In line with the Infrastructure Finance Working Group Report, the Government continues to foster greater private sector involvement in infrastructure. The F3 to M2 'missing link' in Sydney is a good example of how the Government is working with the private sector to deliver nationally significant infrastructure projects. Consistent with this, the Government is also looking to utilise new funding and financing arrangements to help attract private sector involvement in the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane Cross River Rail 'mega projects'. This commitment to working with the private sector is in line with the approach demonstrated in the last Budget to develop the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal.

This new approach builds on the solid foundations the Government has already put in place to identify the right infrastructure projects and make effective funding decisions. The establishment of Infrastructure Australia has overhauled the way our nation plans, prioritises, builds and uses its infrastructure, delivering real outcomes, such as our National Ports Strategy.

In order to support continued partnerships between the Government and the private sector, the Government is establishing a new advisory function within Treasury to provide guidance on the most appropriate funding and financing structures to bring complex infrastructure projects to market. This will minimise the risks that could be associated with new financing arrangements, and help to build investment capacity in Australia.

National Broadband Network

The Government will invest up to $30.4 billion in equity in NBN Co to fund the rollout of the $37.4 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).

The NBN will deliver a major advancement in the quality and speed of broadband access for all Australians. At the same time, it will help boost Australia's future productivity performance and enhance Australia's future economic growth and prosperity.

The NBN will enhance the ability of Australian businesses to compete, as it will help to reduce operating costs and improve access to customer markets. It will improve access to health services, such as by enabling patients in remote locations to receive in‑home health care and stay in their homes for longer. Furthermore, the NBN will expand educational opportunities as distance will no longer be an obstacle to accessing world‑class educational information and services.

NBN Co's latest three year rollout plan will see construction commenced or completed for over 4.8 million premises nationwide by June 2016.

This Budget also delivers an additional $12.9 million to assist local governments, small businesses, and not‑for‑profit organisations to engage in the digital economy and take advantage of the NBN.

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