10 Sep 2021
The Edge, Fed Square
12 Oct 2021
ICC, Sydney

Economic recovery announcements centre on new infrastructure projects across Australia

Over $100 billion is slated to be spent by state governments on infrastructure projects in the coming years to revitalize economies and create jobs, offsetting the negative impacts of COVID-19. Here is a quick summary of what has been announced across each state.

Ambitious projects focused on new transport infrastructure, maintenance/improvement works, housing and digital infrastructure have been released in the 2020-2021 Victorian Budget. Other states have similarly committed to new schemes, creating jobs and restarting economies.

Some areas such as Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia are putting a significant amount of their budget into these new schemes, while others such as Tasmania and South Australia are falling further into debt, and are not in a position to invest heavily into infrastructure.

Governments expect these investments will put money back into their economy and create new jobs, while states such as Queensland are accommodating for forecasted population growth and upgrades to gridlocked travel areas.

VIC Infrastructure Projects

When announcing new investments, the Victorian Government explained the projects will serve passengers and motorists for decades and create thousands of new jobs.

New transport infrastructure

A sizeable $10 billion has been committed to improving transport infrastructure in metropolitan and regional Victoria.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said “The Victorian Government’s commitment to these city shaping infrastructure projects and Australian-made rolling stock is a real win for the people of Melbourne and wider Victoria”.

“These projects will deliver a modern, efficient and sustainable rail network to support the growth of the state for years to come.”

Key features include:

  • $2.2 billion to construction of the Suburban Rail Loop – creating nearly 1000 jobs.
  • $2 billion to the Geelong Fast Rail, reducing travel times between Geelong and Melbourne.
  • $1.48 billion for the construction of 100 new modern trams to replace Victoria’s ageing trams.
  • $660 million for Shepparton and Warnambool line upgrades.
  • Other similar works and projects across the state.

“This Budget builds on our record transport investment with more than $10 billion for better roads and public transport.” said Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas MP.

Housing infrastructure

The budget delivers a huge $5.3 billion package to construct 12,000 new homes in metro and regional Victoria.

This housing is intended to go to those in need, however the scheme has recently come under public scrutiny for the increased privatisation of housing infrastructure. Two-thirds of the package is for community housing managed by private non-profit organisations. This means less assets in public hands and increased cost to taxpayers.

Despite this, the housing infrastructure scheme will support the recovery of Victoria’s economy. 10,000 jobs will be created per year over the project lifespan as a result of the new spending.

Digital infrastructure

Significantly more Australians have been using the Victorian Government’s online services since the pandemic struck. This has demonstrated the need for refinement to ensure Victorians have a safe and reliable alternative to in-person services. Key details of the refinement of digital infrastructure include:

  • $195.5 million for Digital Victoria, a central, simplified service for the Victorian Governments online functions
  • $75 million towards a four-year plan to overhaul government regulation
  • $7.5 million directly invested into state cyber-security, protecting data and systems from hackers and malicious software

Maintenance/Improvement works

The Victorian Government are undertaking a significant effort to maintain and improve transport infrastructure. These upgrades include:

  • $411 million to maintain and rebuild road surfaces across the state.
  • $255 million in overhauling the Great Ocean Road, creating nearly 400 new local jobs.
  • $187.6 million to infrastructure upgrades and maintenance on the V/Line network of train services
  • $117 million package designed to upgrade roads and intersections across Melbourne
  • Various other investments into transport safety, speed and bridge repairs/replacement.

Jacinta Allan, Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure said, “By building our state, we’re rebuilding the economy – getting thousands of Victorians back in work and preparing our transport network for generations to come.”

Improved planning processes

Also under the new scheme is a $111 million investment into an improved planning process aimed at reducing delays in delivering major projects. The $111 million will be spent achieving new goals including:

  • Improved planning processes aimed at streamlining decision-making in the private sector to increase investments, jobs and create business in Victoria
  • Fast-tracked approval pathways for private builders to incorporate social/affordable housing in their projects
  • Funding for the Victorian Streamlining for Growth Program
  • Creation of a new assessment model for development proposals valued over $50 million
  • Continual upgrades to digital systems for permit and planning scheme amendments
  • Development of the new 3D spatial data program – Digital Twin Victoria

NSW Infrastructure Projects

The NSW Government have announced similarly high levels of spending in their 2020-2021 budget. $33 billion will be invested into transport infrastructure investments over the coming years.

NSW Minister for Transport and Roads, Andrew Constance, said “By 2024, Sydney will have 31 metro railway stations and a 66km of standalone metro railway system, revolutionising the way our city travels.”

“Across the city, we are already seeing the benefits of congestion busting projects such as WestConnex, with the M8 and New M4 tunnels providing more efficient journeys,”

Some of the significant programs and projects receiving funding under the new budget include:

  • $1.6 billion towards bus services across regional and metropolitan NSW
  • $1.1 billion for expansion and refinement of rail systems and services
  • $545 million ($4.2 billion over 4 years) to commence construction on the Sydney Gateway Project and M6 Stage 1 Extension
  • $710 million towards walking and cycling infrastructure
  • Various other works and projects across the state

SA Infrastructure Projects

South Australia are not enjoying the same levels of spending VIC and NSW are. The SA budget has announced a record $1.49 billion deficit, the largest in the states history. As a result, not as much will be spent on new infrastructure.

The largest project will be an $8.9 billion system of 2 tunnels connected by lowered and surface motorways, one starting one kilometre from Darlington and ending just before the Glenelg tram line,the other stretching from south of Sir Donald Bradman Drive, ending before West Thebarton Road.

There will also be smaller works completed over the next 2 years on:

  • Several road improvements including the South Eastern Freeway, Main South Road, Victor Harbor Road and the Strzelecki Track.
  • Refinements for sport and recreation infrastructure including Hindmarsh Stadium and Memorial Drive.
  • School infrastructure improvements
  • Maintenance work grants

WA Infrastructure Projects

“We have an ambitious $27 billion infrastructure program over the next four years, which will form an important component of WA’s economic recovery. The Pipeline of Work will ensure the benefits will flow to local businesses and jobs are created for Western Australians,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.

“We have prioritised spending on infrastructure as an investment for the future, including upgrades to road, rail and port facilities; the introduction of increased access to water; construction and refurbishment of schools and TAFEs; and additions to our housing stock throughout WA. In addition to this, we have emphasised emerging areas of demand and importance such as renewable energy and digital technology.”

Key features of the Pipeline of Work include:

  •  1,430 total infrastructure projects over the next 4 years
  • $27 billion infrastructure program
  • Opportunities for WA businesses to participate as WA Government contractors or sub-contractors
  • Major projects across all regions of WA
  • An estimated 28,300 jobs, including 1,817 apprenticeships and trainees

QLD Infrastructure Projects

A record $56 billion will be spent on capital works and infrastructure over the next four years in Queensland, aimed at improving the economy and preparing for expected population growth.

“That means building the schools, the hospitals and the bridges, roads and tunnels that our growing state will need in the future,” Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick told parliament.

Key road  investment include:

  • $2.1 billion Gateway Motorway and Bruce Highway upgrades
  • $1.53 billion for a Coomera and Nerang connection
  • $1.065 billion towards the Rockhampton Ring Road
  • Various investments into upgrading and resurfacing roads across QLD

Key rail projects involve:

  • Over $1 billion towards the new Rail Network Strategy
  • $709.9 million for the Gold Coast Light Rail
  • $646 million for the European Train Control System upgrades
  • $550 million for a Beerburrum to Nambour Rail upgrade
  • Other works and upgrades across the state

Public transport, walking and cycling lanes will also receive upgrades as part of the extensive package.

TAS Infrastructure Projects

While not on the scale of other states, Tasmania are still investing $5 billion into infrastructure projects, the largest program in the state’s history, despite record levels of debt. The spending is expected to create new jobs and revitalize a damaged economy. Spending will be focused on projects involving:

  • $1 billion towards roads, highways and bridges
  • Over $150 million towards hospital redevelopment
  • $218 million in education infrastructure

Tasmanian Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein said he was throwing everything at an economic Coronavirus response. “This Budget is the most important budget I’ll ever hand down,”.

“Now is not the time to step back, now is the time to step up. This is the budget for our times.”

NT Infrastructure Projects

In a similar situation to Tasmania and South Australia, the Northern Territory is entering record levels of debt, as the total figure reaches $8.4 billion this financial year.

At this stage, the Northern Territory budget includes $1.75 billion for infrastructure projects, the focus being on remote housing and roads at this stage.

Record levels of investment into a changing construction and infrastructure industry means said industries will continue to grow and change at a rapid pace over the coming years. Opportunities for government funding, and new apprentice and trainee programs are abundant.

Many of these plans and projects will continue to change and grow along with the infrastructure landscape as new challenges and opportunities arise.

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