Sweet budget for keeping WA on the move
It doesn’t get much better than this for Perth road and rail users longing for faster work commutes, or for businesses involved in building transport infrastructure.
This year’s Federal Budget confirmed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent commitment to allocate $3.2 billion to crush WA congestion, allowing travellers to get home more quickly and safely.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said it forms part of the Federal Government’s 10-year rolling infrastructure plan to bust congestion in cities, make rural roads safer and get products to market.
The initiative is also forecast to generate thousands of jobs over the next few years as WA’s road and rail network pushes further north, south and east.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA Chief Executive Officer Chris Rodwell said the infrastructure package is welcome news for all West Australians.
“This will go a long way toward addressing WA’s infrastructure needs and will underpin future economic growth and productivity,” he said.
“Building an efficient transport network with improved road and rail infrastructure will provide a huge productivity boost for WA industry.
“It’s also a vote of confidence in the Government’s Metronet project that will create hundreds of jobs and stimulate economic growth.”
Turnbull’s joint deal with the McGowan Government allocates a combined $5.4 billion to build new infrastructure, but is still subject to business cases for major projects such as the much-anticipated Metronet rail extension from Morley to Ellenbrook.
One of WA Labor’s key pre-election promises, the Ellenbrook line, is expected to start construction next year after the Federal Government said it would stump up $500 million – about half of the estimated project cost.
It remains uncertain when the first trains will begin rolling, with the McGowan Government yet to specify where it will find its share of construction costs for Ellenbrook and other key Metronet projects.
At the recent joint media conference with Turnbull in Perth, McGowan said his Government planned to “get on and build the Ellenbrook line, the Byford line and the Midland line in accordance with our election promises”.
“So, we expect to start the Ellenbrook line next year,” he said.
Asked how his debt-burdened Government would come up with the $2.2 billion needed for WA’s contribution to the overall infrastructure program, McGowan said the various business cases for road and rail projects were being reviewed to define costs.
“We will deliver our share of these, but it is still something that we are working on to secure the money, both internally and externally.”
Morrison’s budget confirmed $241 million of Federal funding for the extension of the Armadale line to Byford, $83 million for the relocation of Midland Station, $2 million for a business case on a station at Lakelands near Mandurah, and a further $226 million to support “other Metronet-related projects”.
The Federal coffers also flowed money for WA road projects, highlighted by a $560 million commitment to fund stages 2 and 3 of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, $581m for the long-awaited southern extension of the Tonkin Highway and other works along highway.
Up north, $108 million was committed to help extend the Mitchell Freeway from Hester Avenue to Romeo Road.
The entire infrastructure package will help to connect the fast-growing areas of the north and south of Perth and improve key freight routes.
WA agriculture also received a boost from the deal with the $400 million Myalup-Wellington Dam desalination and irrigation project near Collie effectively green-lighted by $140 million in Federal funding and a concessional loan of up to $50 million.
Healthcare was another winner, with the Federal Government’s $188.9 million GST top-up payment allocated to hospital projects, including $158 million towards the Joondalup Health Campus expansion.