Government Flags Boost to $72 Billion of Infrastructure to Pull Australia Through Recession

June 14, 2020 Updated: June 17, 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will look to fast-track $72 billion worth of infrastructure projects to push Australia out of its CCP virus pandemic-induced recession.

In an address to the Committee for Economic Development Australia in Canberra on June 15, Morrison will call for all sectors of the economy to pull together, modernise the system, and kickstart economic growth for the country.

“Our number one priority is getting people back into jobs, and they need to be real, productive jobs. Jobs that produce goods and services that people want,” the prime minister is expected to tell the conference.

Morrison will say the government has already committed nearly $180 billion (US$122.9 billion) in infrastructure over the next decade. Half of that spend will be allocated in the next four years.

Another $1.5 billion will be allocated to kickstart immediate work on 15 priority projects identified by the states and territories.

“As part of this package, $1 billion will be allocated to priority projects which are shovel-ready, with $500 million reserved specifically to target road safety works,” according to the prime minister’s speech released to AAP.

These “shovel-ready” projects include the inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane; the Marinus undersea electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria; the Olympic Dam extension in South Australia; emergency town water projects in New South Wales; and road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia.

Morrison says the projects will create 66,000 direct and indirect jobs and are worth $72 billion. More announcements on new projects are expected soon.

Two aspects of the JobMaker scheme will be addressed, including investment in infrastructure and major projects, as well as deregulation.

The JobMaker plan, announced last month, sees five working groups made up of government, unions, and business groups, coming together to review areas needing potential industrial relations reform.

The working groups will set their sights on awards, enterprise bargaining agreements, casual work, union and employer misconduct, and agreements covering new construction projects.

Epoch Times Photo
Workers at a construction site, Sydney, May 2, 2017. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Deregulation is also a priority, with Morrison calling on different sectors of the economy to work together.

“All levels of government, business and the community must rethink how these systems can better contribute to our recovery from the pandemic,” he will say.

“We need to bring the same common sense and cooperation we showed fighting COVID-19 to unlocking infrastructure investment in the recovery.”

According to Morrison, the states had already cut approval times.

“I’ve asked them all to lift their ambition further, and work with us through the national cabinet to make deregulation a focus of Australia’s economic recovery,” he will say.

Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge echoed the prime minister’s comments on the states, telling Channel Seven’s Sunrise on June 15 they were “100 percent on board wanting to get these projects done fast.”

Tudge is hoping to reduce assessment times for major projects.

“So many of those larger scale projects can take three to four years before they actually get going, so we want to reduce that timeframe in half,” he said.

The federal government’s emphasis on the post-pandemic recovery has seen it roll out a suite of reforms to help streamline government decision making to boost Australia’s economic stocks including HomeBuilder, establishing the Coordination Commission, and the removal of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) for a permanent National Cabinet.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimated on June 5 that government debt could blow out $620 billion (US$422 billion) by the end of the decade.