The federal government will allocate $50 million towards supporting new infrastructure projects for the nation’s cities in next week’s budget.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan will see the Commonwealth help broker finance for state and private infrastructure projects, rather than providing direct grants.
The funding has been characterised as a down payment to kickstart a new model for funding infrastructure in Australia.
Some of the projects the government has suggested could be funded this way include:
• A fast rail line to the planned Western Sydney airport;
• The Melbourne Metro rail project;
• Adelaide light rail;
• The Brisbane cross-river rail; and
• A Perth to Forrestfield airport link.
The proposal has got the backing of the business community in Western Sydney, a key battleground in this year’s federal election.
Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber David Borger said while it was still an idea, he was hopeful it would attract investment for a new airport fast rail.
“I think this is quite visionary, we have an infrastructure backlog going back at least 30 years,” he said.
“What the government is doing is being a bit innovative around finding new ways to finance the things we haven’t been able to afford in the past, we really haven’t kept pace with population growth, our cities are becoming more and more congested, not more connected.”
He said it has been difficult to get projects off the ground.
“We have not been able to find ways, Commonwealth or state, to fund the projects that will make our cities work, so what the government seems to be saying is it’s giving a green light to the notion of long term debt financing using bonds,” he said.
“Now that basically means interest rates are very low, they’re super low at the moment, now is a good time to start locking in these visionary, transformative projects like a fast rail link to Badgerys Creek Airport.”