Budget investments must be supported with further policy reforms

Roads Australia (RA) says it is crucial that the Federal Parliament supports key policy reforms to fully realise the economic benefits from the substantial investments in integrated transport infrastructure contained in tonight’s Federal Budget.

“The Federal Government’s additional investment of $17.9 billion in a suite of new and existing projects nationally is enormously significant and will bring the Commonwealth’s 10-year investment pipeline to a record $120 billion,” said RA CEO Michael Kilgariff.

“The investments being made in transport infrastructure through tonight’s Budget will enhance mobility for people and freight, improving efficiency, safety and sustainably of the network by addressing congestion, improving connectivity and boosting service capacity across all modes.”

“Those who design, construct, maintain and operate integrated transport infrastructure and services have played a key role in helping Australia emerge from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic far more quickly than was originally envisaged.”

“Yet, the very strength of that recovery is now imposing significant challenges for our industry, as intense competition for materials and labour within Australia and globally is reflected in rising costs, skills shortages and pressure on project delivery timelines.”

“To ensure that the projects supported in this Budget deliver the desired economic, employment and community benefits, they must be complemented by policy action in other critical areas including procurement, road funding, skilled migration and training and initiatives to support greater diversity in the workforce.”

“The Budget has made some progress in these areas, and RA welcomes changes made to procurement to enable greater participation by SMEs, additional investments to support national skills reform and improve uptake of apprenticeships, as well as expanded access to paid parental leave.”

“In relation to road funding, RA again emphasises the need for the Commonwealth to lead the development of a fair, nationally consistent road user charging model and implementation framework which offers greater certainty around the future funding base for road infrastructure.”

“The temporary reduction in fuel excise contained in tonight’s Budget is just that – a temporary measure. Fuel excise was always intended to fund the construction and maintenance of our road networks. As it declines as a revenue source, we must ensure the nation has sufficient funds available to pay for the efficient, safe and sustainable road infrastructure our communities require.”

“RA acknowledges this will be a challenging reform – but it is essential for the long-term revenue certainty that governments and industry need. This is the right time for the Commonwealth to lead a mature and collaborative engagement between governments, industry and the community which will transition Australia to a modern, sustainable and equitable system of road user charging.”

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