Four Australian states released budgets recently, with most announcing major investments in infrastructure. Here’s a snapshot of some of their big ticket items.
New South Wales
Metro rail, roads and green infrastructure were the main focus of the 2019-20 NSW state budget. More than $32 billion has been pledged to public transport projects, with an additional $23 billion for roads. This includes $6 billion for Sydney’s Metro West rail project, as well as funding for WestConnex and the F6 extension near the south of Sydney. Parramatta’s Light Rail will also receive $561 million.
Regional transport will receive attention thanks to billions for Pacific Highway and Princes Highway upgrades, as well as maintenance projects on remote roads and a new rail maintenance facility in Dubbo.
The State Government has also committed to creating new public parks, increasing the tree canopy across Sydney and building more accessible playgrounds. Almost $125 million will go towards improving existing assets and buying new land across the state to be converted for public use.
More than $36 million will go towards combating Sydney’s urban heat island effect by planting more trees to create greener and cooler climates. This funding adds to the Five Million Trees for Greater Sydney Program, which has already seen 149,000 trees planted by communities around the city.
The 2019-20 Queensland state budget is a record expenditure for the state when it comes to roads and transport infrastructure investment – $23 billion over four years.
Between now and 2023, the State Government will invest $14.5 billion in transport for regional towns and cities outside Brisbane City, Ipswich City and Redland City local government areas. The Bruce Highway between Cairns and Brisbane will receive funds to make it more flood-resilient, and improvements will be made to the Peninsula Development Road and the Warrego Highway west of Toowoomba.
The budget also emphasises “congestion busting” projects, including expansion of Brisbane’s M1, a Gateway Motorway extension, and investment in bike-riding infrastructure including a North Brisbane Bikeway and on-road cycle lanes.
“We’re focusing dollars on where they will make a difference, and ring-road projects in Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns will benefit those cities by taking traffic, particularly trucks, off local roads,” said Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
Besides roads, rail projects were a big focus for the 2019-20 Queensland state budget. This includes $160.8 million for upgrades to the North Coast Line, $250 million for the high-capacity underground Inner Northern Busway interchange and delivery of the $4.15 billion New Generation Rollingstock project.
Billions of dollars have been allocated to network improvements while the Cross River Rail is being delivered, which itself will receive a larger chunk of the state’s budget after losing Federal Government funding.
The budget also pledges $250 million to green power generator CleanCo in pursuit of hitting the State Government’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy in the state by 2030.
The $11.9 billion SA state budget is a good one for infrastructure, space and defence, and the resources sector. The budget carves out funds for a suite of infrastructure projects over the next four years, including a mix of schools, hospitals, roads, and cultural, innovation and tourism precincts.
Schools, vocational education and training programs, and health infrastructure will receive almost $3 billion in funding this budget. This includes money for a new Women and Children’s hospital and upgrades to the Modbury and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, as well as improvements to regional health facilities.
Millions have been allocated to resources projects, including the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme and solar photovoltaic generation and storage for SA Water to achieve zero net electricity costs from 2020.
The state’s space and defence sectors will receive a budget boost as well. Additional funds of $588,000 over two years will go towards establishing international defence companies at Lot Fourteen, which builds on the $1 million announced in last year’s budget to support the Australian Space Agency at the same site.
The North-South Corridor could see completion thanks to $252 million locked in over the forward estimates. The road will run for 78 km between Gawler and Old Noarlunga via Adelaide to help alleviate congestion and increase road safety in regional areas.
“This significant infrastructure investment means we can build and upgrade roads and intersections right across the state to bolster safety, grow the economy and help create more local jobs,” said Premier Steve Marshall.
However, some of this funding will be delivered beyond the forward estimates, although the government said this budget looks to create a 10-year pipeline of work.
“It’s going to be focused on keeping our economy going, keeping our jobs growth going and making our state a more productive place,” Marshall said.
Victoria’s budget includes a $27.4 billion “suburban transport blitz”, including a fully funded North-East Link and removal of 25 level crossings.
The state already has a full roster of ambitious infrastructure projects, including the suburban rail loop and the Melbourne Airport rail link. Premier Daniel Andrews has pledged to fully fund the North-East Link to the tune of $15.8 billion, as well as to provide $1.6 billion this year for the West Gate Tunnel and $486 million for country roads.
An additional $2 billion has been earmarked for upgrades to the Sunbury rail line, including platform extensions and accessibility upgrades to increase capacity. There is also more than $750 million to duplicate the Cranbourne line to get trains running to the city every 10 minutes during peak times.
Renewables and the environment also received a boost. The budget includes $1.3 billion to expand an existing rebate scheme for solar panels, hot water systems and batteries. Waste management and recycling has pulled in $35 million to revive the state’s waste market for recyclables including paper and plastic.
State Treasurer Tim Pallas called these projects vital if the state is to keep up with population growth and provide jobs for the one in 10 Victorians employed in construction. However, the infrastructure windfall might mean belt-tightening for other sectors. Pallas has called this a “budget of hard choices”, as the State Government is struggling to plug a hole left by the Australian Labor Party’s loss at the Federal election in May. Labor had promised $2 billion in Federal funds for the state’s Metro Tunnel project, which was not matched by the Coalition. The State Government has also pledged no funds this year to the Melbourne Airport rail link.
While the Federal Government is promising $4 billion to build the East-West Link, Andrews has refused funds, arguing the business case is not strong enough and the funds are better spent elsewhere, like on the North-East Link.