Photographer: Dallas Kilponen/Bloomberg

Western Australia to Get A$2.3 Billion Budget Road, Rail Package

Western Australia will get a A$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) road-and-rail infrastructure package in this week’s federal budget, the national government said on Sunday.

A little over half of the funds will be spent on the state’s Metronet rail project, with the rest to pay for smaller road and bridge projects.

About A$1.86 billion of the money will come from funds previously allocated to a freight rail-link project in the state capital Perth that has since been canceled. The remainder will come from savings on other projects and a federal taxation top-up payment. 

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said in an emailed statement the package would deliver a “significant jobs boost” across the state, as well as tackling congestion. Western Australia has been hard hit by the end of the mining investment boom and is battling high unemployment and rising debt.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had previously dismissed the idea of reallocating the funds. However, in the statement on Sunday, Turnbull said he recognized the state government had new priorities. McGowan led the then opposition Labor Party to a state election victory in March after campaigning on a platform that included scrapping the freight project in favor of the passenger rail scheme.

Increased infrastructure spending around Australia is tipped to be a key element of Tuesday’s federal budget. Treasurer Scott Morrison said recently he will be splitting government debt into funding for day-to-day spending and borrowing for projects like road and rail, in order to distinguish borrowing that is investing in “major growth-producing infrastructure assets.”

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