Infrastructure Tended to in Surprise-less Budget by Nathan Stanogias

The Gillard Government has committed $3 billion to the Melbourne Metro project as part of the Nation Building Program’s next phase in a bid to reduce commuter congestion and boost productivity.

The Government has proposed four new rail lines and five new train stations in the CBD which are said to add 19 train services per hour, providing an increase in passenger capacity of around 20,000.

The Melbourne Metro project is estimated to be a nine-kilometre underground railway from west of South Kensington to east of South Yarra.

The new section of railway will connect the Sunbury line to the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines bypassing the current inner city network.

New train stations in Arden, Parkville, Domain and the north and south districts of the CBD are said to improve train reliability and efficiency.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said traffic congestion is estimated to cost the economy up to $20 billion a year by 2020 if it is not addressed now.

“We have already invested a massive $36 billion in roads, rail and ports,” Mr Swan said.

He said it is critical to invest in urban road and rail infrastructure to ensure the growths of the cities under the Nation Building Program aren’t hindered.

Identified by Infrastructure Australia as a ‘priority’ project of national importance, Melbourne Metro is said to improve the city’s entire metropolitan network by increasing rail capacity through the inner city.

The Treasurer said Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail are “nation building projects” by which $3 billion of the Commonwealth’s funding has substantiated.

“These investments will boost productivity, build capacity, improve safety, and relieve congestion, as well as improving the quality of life in our communities across the nation.”

In addition to their funding promise, the Government have provided $40 million to assist in the planning of the Melbourne Metro project.

“We have committed more to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined.

“We will partner with the private sector and State Governments to deliver these critical projects as efficiently as possible,” Mr Swan said.

Today’s Budget allocation of $3 billion to Melbourne Metro is to be matched by the Victorian Government dollar-for-dollar.

Further long term Federal and State funding will be provided in order to support ‘availability payments’ in a bid to attract the balance of required funding from the private sector.

As revealed by today’s Budget, Government has committed a $24 billion investment in infrastructure bringing their total investment to around $60 billion from 2008-09 to 2018-19.

However, Government will reduce funding for the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) – Stream 2 by $2 billion over seven years from 2013-14 to 2019-20 due to inadequate revenues from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

Funding of more than $2.4 billion over nine years is said to remain in the RIF – Stream 2 to contribute to the next phase of the Nation Building Program.

The Government’s fiscal redirections will see cuts to the Nation Building Program by $44.3 million from 2013-14 to 2017-2018, as a result of cost savings on existing projects within the Nation Building Program to date.

Although, Mr Swan said the long-term savings Labor have achieved over the last five years will add up to over $300 billion by 2020-21.

“Of course, these savings involve some very difficult decisions,” Mr Swan said.

While our economy remains resilient, he said external forces such as the high Australian dollar have put pressure on prices, which has weighed heavily on tax receipts.

“We’ve seen almost $170 billion wiped off our tax receipts since the Global Financial Crisis.

“We take the difficult decisions knowing they allow us to fully fund better schools for our children, the historic creation of DisabilityCare Australia, and of course the next wave of nation building,” Mr Swan said.

The Government will continue their nation building agenda through the Nation Building Program.

Nathan Stanogias


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

Sign up for Catalyst Magazine

Get the latest on what's happening
* = required field