Finance Federal Budget Budget 2018: Surplus brought forward, cash splash on roads and rail
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Budget 2018: Surplus brought forward, cash splash on roads and rail

malcolm turnbull
The government will unleash more than $20 billion in new infrastructure spending on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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Treasurer Scott Morrison is now expected to reveal the budget will be back in the black one year early, with a surplus greater than $5 billion projected for 2019-20, according to reports.

Sky News reported on Monday that Mr Morrison would announce the budget was on track to reach a surplus in 2019-20, despite forecasts in the mid-year budget update of a $2.6 billion deficit.

The budget was previously projected to return to surplus in 2020-21, but observers had suggested improved company tax receipts could allow the government to bring it forward one year.

The deluge of increased revenue also allowed the government to abandon plans for an increase in the Medicare Levy, according to the Treasurer, who will also unveil personal income tax cuts on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, Malcolm Turnbull defended doling out five times as much new infrastructure money to Victoria than New South Wales as more details emerge about the government’s roads and rail cash splash.

The Turnbull government is reportedly set to unveil $24 billion in infrastructure spending in Tuesday’s budget, which is likely to be its last before the next election.

Victoria is the clear winner and is tipped to receive $7.8 billion, including $5 billion to help fund a rail link to Melbourne airport.

It will also get $1.75 billion to build Melbourne’s North East Link road project, which the Victorian Labor government has identified as a key priority.

The big boost to Victoria’s infrastructure spend comes after months of Premier Daniel Andrews accusing the “Prime Minister for Sydney” of shortchanging the state.

The nation’s most populous state, New South Wales, will reap only $1.5 billion of new spending in this budget.

That includes $400 million for Port Botany Rail and $971 million for a Coffs Harbour Bypass on the Pacific Highway, while $50 million will be poured into a business case for rail between St Mary’s and the Western Sydney airport.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in Sydney on Monday to announce money for Port Botany rail, which the government says will increase freight performance and reduce congestion.

But he was also forced to defend spending far less in New South Wales than Victoria.

“You’ve got to remember we have an enormous amount on track in New South Wales,” he said.

“We have announced additional funding in this budget, including the Coffs Harbour by pass but we already have a huge amount underway, whether it is WestConnex, whether it is the Western Sydney airport or whether it is the other upgrades on the Pacific Highway or the North-South rail link.

A $5.3 billion commitment to build for Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek was the centrepiece of last year’s budget, which included $20 billion in new spending.

Queensland

Queenslanders can expect $5.2 billion in the budget, with the money going towards upgrades of the Bruce Highway in various spots along the coast, alongside other projects such as $300 million for Brisbane Metro.

An already announced $1 billion will go towards easing congestion on the Pacific Highway south of Brisbane and at the southern end of the Gold Coast.

Cross River Rail, which is the Queensland government’s pet project, will miss out on funding.

Western Australia

Western Australians will also be big winners as the government prepares to shower the West in $3.2 billion in infrastructure cash on Tuesday.

The centrepiece of the package, which is being sold as part of GST top-up fund, is $500 million for the long-awaited Morley to Ellenbrook rail line.

Western Australians believe they are unfairly disadvantaged by the GST carve up.

South Australia

The government will also commit $1.8 billion for infrastructure spending in South Australia, including money for the electrification of the Gawler rail line and $1.4 billion for an upgrade of Adelaide’s South Road.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, a $461 million commitment to help build a new Bridgewater Bridge, just outside Hobart, will be part of a $921 million total infrastructure spend for the Apple Isle.

Labor’s infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said the government was inflating its spending figures by referring to infrastructure spending over 10 years, rather than the four-year forward estimates.

“What we’ll be looking for tomorrow night is the difference between the actual investment that’s occurring, and the government’s rhetoric,” Mr Albanese said. 

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