Inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane and a second underwater power cable to Tasmania are among projects given priority status by the Commonwealth Government in a bid to fast-track jobs on major infrastructure works.
In a speech at the National Press Club today, the Australian Prime Minister is expected to outline more details of the government’s JobMaker plan, including increased spending on infrastructure and major projects.
Scott Morrison announced the plan last month, saying its purpose would be to get Australian businesses “out of ICU” after coronavirus restrictions led to many taking significant hits to their bottom lines and relying on the government’s JobKeeper scheme to stay afloat.
That includes a priority list of 15 major projects to be fast-tracked under an agreement by the Commonwealth, states and territories to speed up the approval process,
It is a decision which, Morrison will tell the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) at its State of the Nation Conference in Canberra on Monday, would support “over 66,000 direct and indirect jobs”.
Under our new approach, this investment, and most importantly these jobs, will be brought to market earlier by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times for major projects, from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months,” he is expected to say.
“Working with the New South Wales government, we are on track to complete Commonwealth assessment and approval for Snowy 2.0 in under two years – unlocking over 2000 regional jobs.”
Morrison will also outline some of the 15 projects, including the A$10 billion (NZ$10.6b) inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane, the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria and the expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia.
The list also includes emergency town water projects in New South Wales and a number of road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia.
Labor to call for voice to Parliament
The Opposition leader will also address the forum in Canberra, saying Labor has acted responsibly during the coronavirus crisis but has a different economic reform agenda.
Anthony Albanese is also expected to say addressing climate change and recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution are two key policy priorities for Labor.
Last week, the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said it was unlikely Australians would vote on constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people before the next federal election.
But Albanese will today say Labor must create a First Nations voice to Parliament, consistent with the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“Without that voice, we will never be truly democratic,” he is expected to argue.
Albanese will also declare Australia needs to have a “grown-up” conversation about climate change.
“The long, brutal fire season we endured is something we hope to never go through again-although hope will have little to do with it,” he will say.
“Only preparation can help avert further tragedy.”
The prime minister will also use his speech to announce $1.5 billion in funding for “small priority projects” in all 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,” he will say.
Morrison says the latest funding means the Government has brought forward or provided additional funding for infrastructure investment to the tune of just under $10 billion in the past eight months.
As well as the infrastructure approval and spending announcements, the prime minister is expected to detail the government’s plan for deregulation which he describes as another “important component” of the JobMaker scheme.