The Age, December 12, 2008 - 1:26PM
The Federal Government is introducing a $4.7 billion nation building plan to combat the effects of the global financial crisis.
The latest injection of funds comes on top of its $10.4 billion economic stimulus package.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the spending would add 0.25% to 0.5% to gross domestic product.
- Total package worth $4.7 billion over three years
- Aimed at creating 32,000 jobs
- $1.2 billion for rail infrastructure
- Black Spots program funding doubled
- $1.6 billion in university and TAFE infrastructure
Mr Rudd said the government was focusing on infrastructure because it was a major driver of economic growth. He said the measures announced today were capable of creating 32,000 jobs.
"This package will deal with critical infrastructure in transport, it deals with rail, it deals with roads, it also deals with education, it also deals with how we support private investment,'' he said.
Mr Rudd said the government will bring forward $711 million in spending in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years to accelerate the commencement of 14 road projects.
It will also double funding for the federal Black Spots program from $50 million to $110 million.
"This ... effectively brings forward a total of $4.7 billion in the Auslink 11 program,'' Mr Rudd said.
The government will also spend $1.2 billion on rail infrastructure, the largest single investment in rail in the history of the commonwealth.
$580 million for the Hunter
"We will inject $1.2 billion in new funds into the ARTC,'' Mr Rudd said. "For example, $580 million of today's investment will be used to expand capacity and rail corridors to service the Hunter, the Hunter Valley Coal mines, and of course their connection to the Port of Newcastle.''
Mr Rudd said this investment would more than double the export capacity at Newcastle from 97 to 200 million tonnes of coal a year.
Mr Rudd said the plan was developed in close consultation with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
He said $1.5 billion would be spent in 2008-09, $2.7 billion in 2009-10 and $700 million in 2010-11.
Bringing forward projects
Mr Rudd said the government was keen to bring forward longer-term projects to boost activity.
Road and rail projects in particular would be spread across the country, he said.
"What we are looking at are a series of measures which give a reasonable spread of economic activity geographically in infrastructure which is necessary, but bringing forward all that can physically be brought forward to maximise activity now and in the financial year ahead,'' he said.
Mr Rudd said that of the $4.7 billion, $2.5 billion was made up of new money, while the rest was money that had already been set aside for future spending, but had been brought forward.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the rail projects were aimed at boosting productivity and exports.
"They will have a benefit also in terms of passenger rail,'' Mr Albanese said.