Federal Budget 2017-18 | Infrastructure

By admin - May 9, 2017

The Government seeks to boost the economy by investing an additional $20 billion in transport infrastructure over the next ten years, as the mining and housing construction industries retreat.

A direct boost to engineering and construction, and the improvement of regional and urban transport networks around the country will help businesses, particularly regional businesses, connect with their customers.

The boost will take the total infrastructure investment to $75 billion over the decade, including a $10 billion National Rail Program. This will contribute to projects around the country, including current and future urban rail projects, and investment in regional rail.

The Government is also using a mix of equity investments, grants, and concessional loans to support infrastructure investment in the regions.

The Government has established a Regional Growth Fund, with $472 million over four years from 2017-18. The Fund will provide grants of at least $10 million to support major infrastructure projects to help transform the regions and support long-term growth.

Another $200 million will support an expansion of the Building Better Regions Fund, which supports the construction of capacity-building community infrastructure in the regions.

Delivering on an election commitment, a new Regional Investment Corporation will deliver up to $4 billion in concessional loans for water infrastructure and farming businesses.

While the Government is supporting investment in 'hard infrastructure', there is very little new investment in smart infrastructure and emerging technologies that will create value in the broader economy. The Government must be expecting businesses to invest any efficiency savings from these transport investments into their own business development.

Finally, the Government has allocated $1 billion to a new National Housing Infrastructure Facility, designed to help remove infrastructure ‘chokepoints’ and support new housing, through ‘City Deals’ with local and state governments.

It remains to be seen whether the Government’s much talked about City Deals can provide a meaningful boost to local and urban infrastructure, and improve housing affordability.

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