Inland Rail funding gives rural infrastructure a boost
The Australian Government’s 2016 Budget includes $594 million to buy up land for the Inland Rail freight line between Brisbane and Melbourne, and a few measures that have made the earthmoving industry happy, including water infrastructure projects.
While there has been a mixed reaction to some 2016 Budget measures, there is virtually unanimous support for the Inland Rail project and the continuation of tax concessions for businesses.
"The extension of the tax deduction on purchases below $20,000 is good for the construction and earthmoving industry," Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia executive director Richard Lewis says.
"That came in with the last budget and we did see an increase in investment in new machinery.
"The water infrastructure spend is also good, because that means dam construction and land improvement that we’ve seen increase in over the last few years should continue in rural areas too."
State governments will be given extra incentives to fund major water infrastructure developments following the launch of a $2 billion concessional loan funding facility to help fund the development of dams and other water projects.
The 1700km rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne is expected to reduce pressure on road infrastructure, improve the global competitiveness for Australian exporters and provide a boost to the construction and earthmoving industry.
"The Coalition’s 2016-17 budget aims to help build those sorts of communities in rural and regional NSW and right around Australia by investing in infrastructure and creating jobs and growth in rural and regional areas," Federal minister for regional development, regional communications and rural health Fiona Nash says.
"We’re getting on with the job on Inland Rail by investing $594 million to buy the land for the rail corridor and prepare for construction.
"Inland Rail will connect Brisbane to Melbourne via freight rail and will have massive benefits for farmers and rural communities in regional NSW, growing rural jobs."
The New South Wales leg will run from Narrabri to Gwabegar, Narromine, Parkes, Stockinbingal, Wagga and Albury and will increase national productivity, particularly by getting rurally produced produce to market faster.
"Inland rail is critical to Australia’s freight future given the expectations of the growth in the freight task and I therefore welcome the Government’s significant funding commitment to acquire the land necessary to construct Inland Rail," Australian Logistics Council (ALC) managing director Michael Kilgariff says.
"This decision represents a significant commitment by Government to the Inland Rail project and we look forward to this ownership arrangement supporting the timely and efficient delivery of the project.
"With our freight task expected to triple by 2050, rail simply has to make a greater contribution to the movement of freight along Australia’s north–south corridor.
"We also acknowledge the Federal Government’s $220 million to upgrade the Murray Basin Freight Rail network, but note that the funds, which are part of the $1.5 billion Victorian Infrastructure Package, are provided conditional on the Victorian Government matching dollar for dollar," Kilgariff says.
Other major infrastructure projects committed to in the 2016 Budget include $1.5 billion for M80 and Monash Freeway upgrades in Melbourne, $751 million for airport rail and freight link projects in Western Australia, and $115 million for the new Western Sydney Airport.
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