Little for WA in $5bn building package

12/12/2008 - 11:02


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Western Australia has received little in the federal government's $4.7 billion nation building package designed to help combat the affects of the global financial crisis, receiving a total of $318 million.

Little for WA in $5bn building package

Western Australia has received little in the federal government's $4.7 billion nation building package designed to help combat the affects of the global financial crisis, receiving a total of $318 million.

The latest injection of funds comes on top of the $10.4 billion economic stimulus package, the $6.2 billion new car plan and the $15.1 Council of Australian Government's package.

WA will receive $317.9 million of the nation building package compared to New South Wales' $2.17 billion, Victoria's $1.96 billion and Queensland's $1.59 billion.

Flanked by Treasurer Wayne Swan, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the government was focusing on infrastructure because it was a major driver of economic growth.

Mr Rudd said the package was capable of creating 32,000 jobs nationally.

"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.

WA has landed one project in the list of 14, with the Mandurah entrance road to be upgraded. The federal government said its investment will be $65 million out of a total project cost of $130 million.

In comparison, New South Wales and Victoria landed four projects each while Queensland has three. Both South Australia and Tasmania have one project each in the package.

The road package 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.

In addition to the road funding, Mr Rudd said the government will set aside $195 million for investment in the Ord River scheme, which is being matched by the state government.

Mr Rudd said the government would spend $1.2 billion on rail infrastructure, the largest single investment in rail in the history of the commonwealth.

He said that investment over two years in the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) was more than the former coalition government invested during its almost 12 years in office.

"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," he said.

Mr Rudd said this investment would more than double the export capacity at Newcastle from 97 to 200 million tonnes of coal a year.

WA will receive $23 million to install new and extend loops on the Adelaide to Kalgoorlie rail line.

Meanwhile, businesses with an annual turnover under $2 million will be allowed to postpone 20 per cent of their next Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax instalment until they make their annual return.

The measure will help 1.3 million small businesses, Mr Rudd said.

It would keep $440 million in their bank accounts instead of sending it to Treasury's coffers.

The third component of the plan is a $1.6 billion investment in education.

This is made up of 11 specific education research projects and $1 billion to be directed towards the immediate capital needs of universities and TAFE colleges to deal with additional teaching and learning.

The government will provide a 10 per cent temporary investment allowance to encourage businesses to undertake immediate capital investments.

Taking effect immediately, it will apply for 12 months after capital acquisitions of more than $10,000 have been made.

Businesses will be required to deploy the projects within 12 months of making the applications, which must be lodged before the middle of next year.

Mr Rudd said it was a significant slice of money for a temporary measure.

"We want to go out there and say to people ... private capital investment is so important ... and here is an effort on the government's hand to making critical infrastructure decisions."

Mr Rudd said the plan was developed in close consultation with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

Mr Rudd said $1.5 billion would be spent in 2008-09, $2.7 billion in 2009-10 and $700 million in 2010-11.

He 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.

Asked whether this new initiative would help the economy avoid a recession, Treasurer Wayne Swan said: "We are giving it our best shot".

He said the package will boost gross domestic product growth by about a quarter to one half of one per cent and add 32,000 jobs.

The new package comes on top of the $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy which will flow through to both the December 2008 and March 2009 quarters.

There has also been COAG spending, "a very significant" depreciation in the Australian dollar that will boost the competitiveness of the economy, as well as a very substantial easing in monetary policy.

"All of these things are now working in tandem to strengthen our economy to support households, to support businesses," Mr Swan said.


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