Governments agree on $30bn transport investment

More than $30 billion will be injected into road and rail projects, after governments agree on infrastructure program

More than $30 billion will be injected into vital road and rail projects, after the nation’s governments agreed on a massive infrastructure program to boost productivity and meet demand.

The states and territories last week agreed to the Rudd Government’s Nation Building Program, a six-year initiative to upgrade and maintain road and rail infrastructure.

The Federal Government has committed $26.4 billion, while the states have pledged to invest $5.3 billion.

The announcements were made following a meeting between Kevin Rudd, premiers and territory chief ministers.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says the agreement is a vital step in ensuring Australia’s transport network continues to play an important part in strengthening the economy.

"Although the national road network accounts for only 2 percent of Australia’s total road length, it carries 15 percent of all traffic and 18 percent of the country’s freight and demand is expected to grow significantly in coming decades," Albanese says.

"That’s why upgrading Australia’s transport network is central to the Government’s nation building agenda and essential to the country’s international competiveness."

New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria will be the big winners from the scheme, with each receiving $8.6 billion, $6.8 billion and $4.4 billion respectively.

Western Australia will collect $2.8 billion, South Australia $1.7 billion, Tasmania $800 million, the Northern Territory $590 million and the ACT $200 million.

The largest investment will be in the Pacific Highway, where $2.5 billion will be spent.

The federal Opposition, however, has ridiculed the announcement, claiming the Government has recycled the Coalition’s policies.

"What the Rudd Government has done today is take us back to the Coalition's announcements for AusLink2 of two years ago, and move some projects forwards and others back," opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss claims.

Truss has referred to the Cootamundra to Parkes railway line, which he says the Coalition planned and funded. He says the Government last year delayed the funding for two years.

"But by the end of the year after realising its mistake, the Government reinstated the original timetable - and had the hide to claim it was "fast-tracking" the project to help the nation deal with economic downturn."

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