This is the most exciting time in history to be an Australian.
The opportunities have never been greater so the challenge for us is to take advantage of them and build the strong growth, and the great jobs of the 21st century for all Australians.
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister – May 8, 2016
As we prepare for the policies and promises that will accompany us over the Federal Election campaign, it’s poignant to reflect on the role that rail plays in delivering growth.
Australia’s rail industry already makes a significant contribution to the economy. As the ARA highlighted in their ‘Election Platforms for Change’ release, the industry is a major employer with an extensive local industry network engaged in producing advanced manufacturing goods and professional services.
Earlier this year, Infrastructure Australia’s release of the ‘Australian Infrastructure Plan and the Infrastructure Priority List’ highlighted the crucial role rail will continue to play into our future. Across the industry, from freight and passenger rail operations to manufacturing, construction, research, and technological innovation, the efficiency of rail directly impacts our social and economic prosperity.
Both passenger and freight rail contributes over $4.2 billion to the national economy each year.
Although it’s been commented that ‘rail doesn’t get you votes’, the rail industry did score a few strong votes of confidence in the 2016/17 Budget.
How did rail fare in 2016 Federal Election?
In delivering the Budget, the Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP stated that it was a long term “economic plan” that will support Australia’s transition into an advanced and diverse economy.
Key decisions in the Budget impacting rail include:
The government reconfirms a commitment to funding rail infrastructure including more than $3.4 billion in urban rail projects across the country and an additional $594 million in equity over 3 years from 2017 – 18 for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to support the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project.
The Government also announced that it will continue with previous commitments worth $50 billion for the period from 2013-14 to 2019-20 under the National Infrastructure Plan and invest $1.5 billion in the Victorian Infrastructure Package, including the Murray Basin Freight Rail project.
The Federal Government announced in the Budget tonight commitment to delivering the Inland
Rail project through the ARTC in partnership with the private sector. The government will begin market testing for private sector involvement in the project. The Federal Government are committing an additional $594m in equity over three years from 2017-18 to ARTC to progress the Inland Rail project including land acquisition, the continuation of pre-construction and due diligence activities. The funding will be subject to an equity agreement to be developed between the Commonwealth and ARTC. This commitment includes $3.8m funding for market testing to examine opportunities to optimise private sector involvement in delivering and financing Inland Rail.
A staged reduction in corporate income tax rates (over 11 years) and the expansion of smaller business tax benefits, which will be funded by new tax integrity measures focused on multinational businesses.
Jurisdictional Rail Funding
New South Wales
- Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan: $2.9 billion with $524.4 million to be provided in 2016–17.
- Northern Sydney Freight Corridor: $691.6 million with $25 million to be provided in 2016–17.
Through the Asset Recycling Initiative the Commonwealth is also providing a total of $2.19 billion to New South Wales towards:
- Sydney Metro: $1.7 billion
- Sydney’s Rail Future: $98.4million
- Parramatta Light Rail: $78.3 million
- Murray Basin Freight Rail: $220 million
- St Albans Rail Grade Separation: $151 million with $60.9 million to be provided in 2016–17 to complete the removal of the level crossing and construction of the new rail station and bus interchange
Through the Asset Recycling Initiative the Commonwealth is also providing a total of $877.5 million to Victoria towards:
- Melbourne Metro: $857.2 million
- Murray Basin Rail: $20.2 million
- Moreton Bay Rail Link: $518.4 million with the final $100 million to be provided in 2016–17.
- Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2: $95 million with $47.5 million to be provided in 2016–17
- Forrestfield Airport Link project: $490 million
- Freight Rail Revitalisation: $59.8 million with $20.4 million to be provided in 2016–17
While the Treasurer highlighted that this was not a Budget of ‘winners and losers’, it does certainly seem as though this is a very exciting time in history to be in Australian rail!
On behalf of the AusRAIL 2016 Team , we’re more than happy to lend this year’s theme, ‘Rail – Moving the economy forward’ to those finalising details of the 2016 Election.