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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Federal Budget invests in ACT roads and infrastructure

The Federal Government has allocated $167.3 million in tomorrow’s Budget to co-fund work on Canberra’s roads and light rail with the ACT Government.

$26.5 million will be spent on duplicating the remaining sections of William Hovell Drive; $5 million on a ‘congestion-busting’ Gundaroo Drive duplication; and $2.5 million to upgrade the Beltana Road, Kallaroo, and Dapu Place road corridor in Pialligo.

Earlier in the year, the Federal Government announced it would commit $137 million to upgrade Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (delivered by the National Capital Authority) and $132.5 million for Light Rail – Stage 2A.

“We are backing jobs and boosting our economic recovery by investing in infrastructure projects for the future of Canberra,” said Liberal Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja.

The Federal Government had announced more than $300 million of new investment in projects across Canberra so far this year, and more than $1.5 billion in recent years, Senator Seselja said.

That included $88 million for the Molonglo River Bridge; $50 million to upgrade the Tuggeranong Parkway corridor; and $115 million for the Monaro Highway.

In a statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said these projects would make Canberra roads safer, improve public transport, reduce travel times, and support more than 200 jobs.

New projects

 Total Australian Government funding ($ million)Total funding ($ million)
Beltana Road improvements2.55
Canberra Light rail – Stage 2A132.5265
William Hovell Drive duplication26.553

Existing projects receiving additional funding

 Additional Australian Government funding ($ million)Total Australian Government funding ($ million)Total funding ($ million)
Gundaroo Drive duplication52554.5
Variable speed limit system0.81.14.5

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the substantial injection of funding in this year’s Budget was a key plank of the Government’s plan to help Australia bounce back stronger than ever from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ACT Government really welcomes the investment from the Federal Government to co-fund infrastructure projects across public transport, road network improvements, and pedestrian safety improvements around Canberra,” said Chris Steel, ACT Minister for Transport and City Services.

Mr Steel said more projects had been funded this year than in the past.

The ACT Government, Mr Steel said, would like the Federal Government to fund light rail stage 2B, which could create 10 times as many jobs as stage 2A (6,000 compared to 600). The Federal Government’s National Faster Rail Agency should also fund a connection between Canberra and Sydney.

However, the ACT Government also called on the Federal Government not to decentralise the public service. Mr McCormack said in March that the government planned to relocate public service jobs to regional Australia.

“That would have the opposite effect to what they’re intending with their infrastructure investment,” Mr Steel said.

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