Budget 2020: Billions forked out in budget for regional infrastructure projects

Billions for regional projects to kick start rural recovery

THE government plans to lead the regions out of the pandemic-induced recession with a massive infrastructure spend, forking out billions on roads, rail and water projects.

The 2020/21 budget will see $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure developments, which is expected to support a further 40,000 jobs.

More than 40 new regional transport projects will be funded, and Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack said the emphasis was on shovel-ready projects that would boost productivity and deliver long-term benefits.

There are several big-ticket transport link projects in each state - $560 million for the Singleton bypass and $490m for the Coffs Harbour bypass in NSW, $528m for upgrades to the Shepparton and Warrnambool rail lines in Victoria, $750m for the Coomera Connector in Queensland, $80m for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network in WA and $136m to progress the Main South Road duplication in SA.

"This government is driving the delivery of major infrastructure projects as we map the economic road back from the pandemic, building the economy and providing certainty for business over the long term," Mr McCormack said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the funding for shovel-ready projects would be provided to the state governments on a "use it or lose it basis".

"If a state drags its feet, another state will get the money - we need works to start, not stall," Mr Frydenberg said in his budget speech.

"We know that building more infrastructure now means more jobs now."

An additional $2 billion will be allocated to road safety projects, which will support upgrades such as wire rope barriers and rumble strips, while $1 billion worth of road and community infrastructure grants will be made available to local councils.

A further $2 billion will be added to the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, which more than doubles the fund to a total of $3.5 billion and will be used to support a 10-year rolling program of priority water infrastructure investments, including dams, pipelines and weirs.

Earlier this week, the government announced an additional $50m to extend the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, while last month in announced $269.6m to invest in Murray Darling Basin communities, $38.7m of which will be used to established a new water compliance authority.

A $5-billion and five-year extension of the the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will drive investment and jobs in the top end of the country, while millions will be invested in new regional telecommunications and connectivity projects.

The government also allocated $2 billion for concessional loans to help farmers overcome the devastating drought, $350 million to support regional tourism to attract domestic visitors back to the regions and $200 million for a further round of the Building Better Regions Fund.