Budget Investment in Transport Infrastructure Will Maximise Social and Economic Benefits

Roads Australia (RA) has applauded the significant investments made in key transport infrastructure projects across the nation in tonight’s Federal Budget and is urging the Government to ensure funding allocations flow quickly to maximise both social and economic benefits.

“Once again, transport infrastructure is playing a starring role in a Budget intended to strengthen Australia’s economy, reduce unemployment and create more liveable communities,” said RA CEO Michael Kilgariff.

“The $10 billion of investments in road, rail and freight infrastructure investments contained in this Budget will help to deliver long-term social and economic dividends by targeting unemployment, reducing congestion and enhancing mobility of people and freight.”

“As we prepare to observe National Road Safety Week next week, it is fitting that this Budget injects a further $1 billion into road safety, taking total investment in the Federal Government’s Road Safety Program to $3 billion. Despite comprising only 17 per cent of the nation’s population, deaths on regional roads account for two in every three of the lives lost nationally – and this Budget’s investment in regional road infrastructure should be welcomed by the whole community.”

“RA is especially pleased that the Federal Government has chosen to invest in projects that will allow different transport modes to integrate more seamlessly. This includes funding provided to deliver grade separations and level crossing removals, further support for light rail projects and investment in projects that will enhance the capacity of freight and passenger rail services.”

“As RA’s pre-Budget submission noted, greater investment in public transport is essential if we are to reduce congestion and maintain the liveability of Australian cities.”

“We also applaud the focus on enhanced freight efficiency evidenced through this Budget. The importance of reliable transport infrastructure to support our supply chains has been elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic. RA welcomes the Budget investments supporting the establishment of intermodal terminals that will enhance the operation of Inland Rail, as well as those that will upgrade significant road freight corridors, creating a safer environment for heavy and passenger vehicles.”

“RA notes the Budget’s investment in skills and training opportunities. These are welcome – but it will be vitally important for the Federal Government to engage closely with industry and make certain that the investments align with the immediate and future needs of industry.”

“To that end, it is essential that the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers’ Meeting (ITMM) later this month has a meaningful discussion about areas of critical skills shortage (including digital skills and tunneling). Solutions must be developed to support project delivery in the immediate term (via skilled migration) and to promote enhanced industry capacity over the longer term by investing in specialised training for local industry participants.”

“Our industry is acutely conscious of its obligation to enhance the environmental sustainability of projects, specifically by incorporating recycled materials in the construction process. RA will continue to work collaboratively with governments to actively encourage the use of recycled materials.”

“Encouraging a transition to zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by investing in alternative fuels is another important aspect of enhancing environmental sustainability in the transport sector. RA welcomes the Budget measure to develop additional clean hydrogen hubs in regional communities as an important step. We will continue to engage with governments at all levels to pursue a national plan to transition the nation’s vehicle fleet (including public transport vehicles) and further enhance environmental performance.

“Given the size and scale of the forward pipeline of transport infrastructure projects around the nation, it is also imperative that more is done to make certain on-site workers who construct and maintain our roads can do so in a safe environment. Over recent months, we have witnessed several tragic incidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries because of traffic-related accidents around roadworks.”

“Our industry’s workforce is firmly focussed on keeping the community safe through the provision of quality transport infrastructure. It is only fair that this commitment is repaid by ensuring their exposure to danger is minimised and they get home to their families safely at the end of each working day. RA will continue to pursue a cohesive national strategy for protecting road worker safety through the ITMM process.”

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