2014: Coalition sets infrastructure on productive path

Media Release

WT262/2014

11 December 2014

Joint release with:

Jamie Briggs

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development
Federal Member for Mayo

The Australian Government's strong year of delivering critical infrastructure through its record $50 billion works program has been accompanied by reforms to lock-in efficiency and productivity gains through infrastructure well into the future.

One of the Australian Government's first acts this year was to introduce the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014, unlocking $2.1 billion in Roads to Recovery funding and removing the sunset clause to give councils funding certainty.

We have settled a National Partnership Agreement with all states and territories to underpin our Infrastructure Investment Programme over the next five years.

Infrastructure Australia is now a truly independent statutory authority, with the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill 2013 passing Parliament and the new IA Board announced in September this year. It is now conducting an audit of nationally significant infrastructure and developing a 15-year plan of priorities to guide our infrastructure investment.

In December we released the Australian Government response to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into public infrastructure. The reforms we have announced will provide for better selection, prioritisation and governance of public infrastructure projects, and help deliver better value for money.

In April we released an options paper outlining possible methods to turnaround the steady decline in Australian registered ships providing coastal services, and in 2015 we will finalise the regulatory action needed to revive coastal trading as a viable freight option in Australia.

We also tabled a response to the 37 recommendations in the Aviation Safety Regulation Review, and completed appointments this month to the expanded Civil Aviation Safety Authority Board.

The Implementation Group for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project is continuing to progress what is an important project for our long term prosperity. Work has proceeded over 2014 on the planning for the project, essential for our finalisation of the detailed alignment and business case.

Over the course of 2014, we have quickly moved to simplify and improve our regulatory framework, while providing unprecedented levels of funding to vital infrastructure projects in our cities and regions.

There is also $9.3 billion the Australian Government is allocating under the Financial Assistance Grant programme from 2014–15 to 2017–18 to local councils, which is untied, meaning councils can spend it on the local priorities they identify in their communities.

The Government has invested $314 million in fixing the mess Labor left by funding some 300 uncontracted projects under the former Government's Regional Development Australia Fund (Rounds 2, 3 and 4) and Community Infrastructure Grants Programme.

On top of that, the Australian Government has launched the new $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund, which specifically supports investment in priority economic and infrastructure areas—from freight and transport projects to convention centres and major multi-purpose sports and community facilities.

These investments focus on strengthening economies in Australia's most disadvantaged regions by improving their productivity, economic opportunity, employment, and workforce skills.

The Fund will enhance the economic growth, activity and output of our regions and sustain these gains into the future, by providing between $20,000 and $10 million for up to 50 per cent of the cost of projects. It will invest in important infrastructure projects nominated by local communities, ensuring Australia's regions are investing in their own future.

The Australian Government's White Paper on Northern Australia is underway, with a Green Paper released for comment in June 2014. The White Paper will detail how northern Australia can capitalise on its strengths as a gateway to Asia and build on its growing agriculture, energy, tourism, education and health sectors. It is being developed with the Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory Governments.

We have also removed the foreign ownership restrictions that uniquely applied to Qantas through the passage of the Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 allowing Qantas to compete on a more even playing field with its competitors.

The Australian Government has honoured its election commitment to introduce a new and better targeted Enroute Rebate Scheme for regional commercial airlines after it was abolished by Labor in 2012.

By abolishing the carbon tax we are also saving local families hundreds of dollars each year, saving local businesses thousands of dollars each year and saving local councils millions of dollars each year.

The abolition of the mining tax frees companies to invest in regionals areas, creating jobs and prosperity.

This government is committed to reforming the way infrastructure is delivered in Australia—making it responsive to emerging needs and removing the shackles of unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.