In last night’s 2020-21 Federal Budget, it was announced that roads and infrastructure projects will receive a welcome cash injection.
$2 billion will go towards road safety initiatives and $1 billion for councils to complete necessary road upgrades.
“We are committing an additional $2 billion over 18 months under a new Road Safety Program to deliver an estimated 3000 kilometres of lifesaving road improvements and support thousands of jobs right across the country,” says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
“The program will deliver works such as new shoulder sealing, rumble strips to alert drivers they are moving out of their lane, median treatments to prevent head-on collisions and barriers to prevent run-off-road crashes and protect against roadside hazards.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz says road crashes cost the national economy about $30 billion a year and caused immense suffering for affected families. “It is absolutely heartbreaking that every year around 1200 people die on our roads and tens of thousands more are seriously injured.”
So that road safety improvements are accurately monitored and evaluated, a further $5.5 million will be allocated over four years to establish an Australian-first National Road Safety Data Hub.
Buchholz says it’s hoped that through these road safety initiatives, it will help put Australia on the path to achieving zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.
However TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh believes these figures are a little optimistic. “Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry riddled with fatal pressures like fatigue, low pay and tight deadlines that force many truck drivers to speed and skip rest breaks. Although road improvements are crucial to improving safety, we will not be on a path to zero fatalities until these deadly pressures in trucking are addressed and those responsible held to account,” he says.
The $1 billion going to councils as part of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program will be to complete “shovel ready projects”. States and territories that don’t spend the cash will have their portion reallocated to other jurisdictions that need it – and can spend it.
These investments are part of the Australian Government’s record 10-year transport infrastructure investment pipeline, which has been expanded to $110 billion.
Funding has also been announced for various critical transport infrastructure projects across Australia including:
- An additional $490.6 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass in New South Wales;
- $528 million for upgrades to the Shepparton and Warrnambool rail lines in Victoria;
- $750 million for Stage 1 of the Coomera Connector in Queensland;
- An additional $80.0 million for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network in Western Australia;
- $136 million to progress the Main South Road Duplication in South Australia;
- $65 million for the Tasman Bridge Upgrade in Tasmania;
- $46.6 million for National Network Highway Upgrades in the Northern Territory; and
- $87.5 million for the Molonglo River Bridge in the Australian Capital Territory.