News Freight and power projects to be fast-tracked in bid to boost jobs

Freight and power projects to be fast-tracked in bid to boost jobs

Inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane will be given priority status by the government. Photo: ABC News
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Inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane and a second underwater power cable to Tasmania are among projects given priority status by the federal government in a bid to fast-track jobs on major infrastructure works.

In a speech at the National Press Club on Monday morning, the Prime Minister is expected to outline more details of the government’s JobMaker plan, including increased spending on infrastructure and major projects.

Scott Morrison announced the plan last month, saying its purpose would be to get Australian businesses “out of ICU” after coronavirus restrictions led to many taking significant hits to their bottom lines and relying on the government’s JobKeeper scheme to stay afloat.

That includes a priority list of 15 major projects to be fast-tracked under an agreement by the Commonwealth, states and territories to speed up the approval process,

Mr Morrison will tell the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) at its State of the Nation conference in Canberra on Monday, the projects would support “over 66,000 direct and indirect jobs”.

“Under our new approach, this investment, and most importantly these jobs, will be brought to market earlier by targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times for major projects, from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months,” he is expected to say.

“Early examples of this approach are already paying dividends.

“Working with the New South Wales government, we are on track to complete Commonwealth assessment and approval for Snowy 2.0 in under two years – unlocking over 2000 regional jobs.”

Mr Morrison will also outline some of the 15 projects, including the $10 billion inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane, the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria and the expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia.

The expansion at Olympic Dam mine is another of the Commonwealth’s priority projects. Photo: BHP Billiton

The list also includes emergency town water projects in NSW and a number of road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia.

The Prime Minister will also use his speech to announce $1.5 billion in funding for “small priority projects” in all states and territories.

“As part of this package, $1 billion will be allocated to priority projects which are shovel-ready, with $500 million reserved specifically to target road safety works,” he will say.

Mr Morrison says the latest funding means the government has brought forward or provided additional funding for infrastructure investment to the tune of just under $10 billion in the past eight months.

As well as the infrastructure approval and spending announcements, the Prime Minister is expected to detail the government’s plan for deregulation, which he describes as another “important component” of the JobMaker scheme.