Parliament House, Senate Courtyard
Alan Tudge: In the Budget last night along with a surplus, last night we announced $100 billion over ten years for roads and rail projects right across the county, in our rural areas, in our cities.
Large-scale road projects, large-scale rail projects, as well as smaller scale congestion busting projects – all of it is designed to support the growing population, to make our roads safer and to increase our connectivity between our capital cities and our regional areas.
That’s a record amount of funding - $100 billion – and it’s $25 billion more than what we announced at last year’s Budget. Included in this is a state-by-state break down.
In Queensland, for example, there’s $16 billion of projects over the next decade and, of course, that includes some significant new projects such as upgrades to the Gateway Motorway and further upgrades to the M1 south of Brisbane.
In New South Wales it’s $15.5 billion allocated over the next decade, now that includes additional money for the Princes Highway, a third river crossing for the Hawkesbury and additional money also for the M12.
Going down to Victoria - $20.6 billion for Victoria over the next decade. Now that, of course, includes $2 billion to finally get fast rail going in this nation from Geelong to Melbourne, a 32 minute journey we’ll be able to secure.
It also, of course, includes a $1.1 billion suburban package as well as $300 million to seal 500km of unsealed roads in the Dandenong Ranges, just on the outskirts of Melbourne there in Melbourne’s outer east.
Going further around to South Australia - $5.4 billion over the next decade will be going to South Australia and the largest project there which is going on in South Australia’s history is, of course, the North-South Corridor and we’ve added a further $1.5 billion to complete that final 10.5 km of that North-South Corridor. That will be a road, which will be used for generations to come going right along that great city.
And of course we haven’t forgotten the other states either, in Western Australia it’s $8 billion going there, in Tasmania $1.8 billion, in the Northern Tertiary $1.6 billion and in the ACT $374 million as well over the next decade.
We’re only able to allocate such enormous sums of money to infrastructure because we have ran a strong economy and we have got a budget surplus. As the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have been saying, a budget surplus is not an end to itself, it’s there for a purpose and it means when you’ve got a strong budget position you can invest in these congestion busting infrastructure projects, you can invest in rail links across the country, you can invest in massive road projects to make roads safer and better for everybody – that’s good for families, that’s good for businesses, that’s good for the economy and it’s good for Australia.
I am happy to take any questions on this.
Journalist: Minister, why is so much of the infrastructure funding put off into the forward years (inaudible) on fast rail, 1.95 of that out of the $2 billion that’s come down from 22/23. Why is that money not coming earlier?
Alan Tudge: As soon as the state government is willing to build that fast rail our money will be there. We’ve made the commitment of putting $2 billion on the table as an indication that we want to get the Melbourne to Geelong fast rail done. And it will be the first fast rail project in Australia’s history and it will enable the train to go from Geelong to Melbourne in 32 minutes. That’s our plan. Now on all of these projects, they all have a lead-time and in many cases with these large-scale projects they also take many years as well.
An example in Victoria, which I can provide, is the Melbourne airport rail. We announced $5 billion in last year’s Budget for the Melbourne airport rail, now this year the state government has said ‘yes, we are willing to match that funding,’ and have signed an agreement to get it going. It will start in 2022 and it will probably take several years to get it built.
That $5 billion of our commitment will then be allocated according to the years where it is needed. Because we allocated it last year, it forced the state government’s hand, they’re matching it and we are finally going to get it done. Had we not done that we’d sill be waiting years for it to be built.
Journalist: Is it not a matter of putting that funding off to 2020/23 so you’re Budget surplus-
Alan Tudge: No, not at all. I mean we have so many other projects going on right now, in every single city, in every single state and so this adds to our pipeline of projects. And that’s the nature of these largescale projects.
Let’s take a look at South Australia for example, there’s $3 billion already invested in other parts of the North-South Corridor – that is underway now being spent as we speak. Some of those sections will come to a conclusion this year others will come to conclusion in 2022 and that’s when the final section will begin.
But because we’ve now got the additional $1.5 billion adding to the already committed $1.2 billion to the final section, that means the state government has got the surety that it can do the planning work, get it going, do the procurement knowing that the money is there.
Did the Queensland Government get overlooked in this Budget, they [inaudible] of handing out funds?
Alan Tudge: Not at all. I mean, they should look at the Budget figures, I said before, Queensland’s got $16 billion worth of funding over the next decade including very significant projects, such as further upgrades to the Gateway Motorway and to the M1.
Journalist: Do you think that this big spend on infrastructure, particularly in the regions is going to be enough to encourage voters to stay with the Coalition, rather than turning to minor parties [inaudible]?
Alan Tudge: We’ve been investing in the regions ever since we came to Government and we’re able to invest even more now because we’ve been running a strong economy and we’ve got the Budget back into surplus.
Journalist: Treasury updated its forecast on wages, saying there wouldn’t be a significant increase to pay packets for at least the next year, isn’t that damaging for you...
Alan Tudge: Are there any other questions on Infrastructure, otherwise I’ll let those types of questions be dealt with by the Treasurer.
Journalist: [inaudible] is that not damaging for you?
Alan Tudge: Say that question again please
Journalist: Treasury updated its forecast on wages, saying it’s very unlikely there would be a substantive increase in pay packets until at least next year, isn’t that damaging going into an election where Labor says that this will be a referendum on wages?
Alan Tudge: So the Treasurer addressed this particular point at the Press Club today at lunchtime, he pointed out that the wages index was actually higher than inflation which is good and its forecast to, I think, grow and he said to two and three quarter per cent next year.
We want to see higher wages, we want people to have more money in their pockets and that’s why people in low to middle income families are going to get up to a $1080 in their pockets more, come the end of this financial year.
Journalist: Do you have an understanding of why the energy supplement wasn’t given to people [inaudible]?
Alan Tudge: And again, the Treasurer addressed this today
Journalist: So is this not a factor?
Alan Tudge: The Treasurer addressed this today