$110 billion in infrastructure projects will change how we live
We are also providing £5.03 billion for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, and £5.25 billion for the new metro rail connection to Western Sydney Airport. Alongside our urban rail investments, we are funding commuter car parks. If people can easily park at their local train station, they are much more likely to get the train into town rather than drive all the way.
Already nine commuter car parks are finished or under way, with 48 ultimately to be delivered.
Paul Fletcher is Minister for Communications, Urban infrastructure, Cities and Arts.
Similarly, we are making big investments to move more freight via rail to meet the demands of our growing population, including our £14.5 billion Inland Rail project which will deliver an efficient freight rail connection between Melbourne to Brisbane, dramatically reducing the fuel used and emissions generated per tonne of freight carried. We are also investing heavily in intermodal terminals — including at Moorebank in Sydney, plus £2 billion for a new terminal in Melbourne — which are designed to reduce traffic on our roads by moving freight off trucks and onto trains. Once the Moorebank terminal is fully operational, one regularly operating port shuttle train will carry enough freight to replace 72,000 truck trips on Sydney’s roads each year.
Around Australia, the Morrison government is making transformational road investments designed to get cars and trucks moving smoothly and efficiently around our cities.
New motorways improve productivity — if a tradie can get to three jobs not two in a day because they can travel more quickly, that is a productivity benefit. They also improve safety and reduce fuel consumption — there are far fewer accidents and less emissions when vehicles are travelling at a constant speed rather than making sudden stops at traffic lights or intersections. Whether it is NorthConnex in Sydney, the North South Corridor in Adelaide, or the new North East Link in Melbourne; we are funding motorway projects with productivity, safety and environmental benefits.
Sustainability is being built into our infrastructure investments in many ways. The £5.3 billion Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, for example, will generate around one-fifth of the energy it needs onsite from rooftop solar panels. New motorway projects routinely make provision for active transport.
For example, the new M12 Motorway in Western Sydney will include construction of a dedicated, off-road shared user path connecting to the M7 Motorway and The Northern Road shared user paths, while also providing direct access to the new airport. Under the Western Sydney City Deal, three levels of government are working together to realise a vision for a “thirty minute city” where residents are within a thirty-minute commute of work or school. Too many people today drive long distances for work, which not only impacts mental health, it means more fuel used and more emissions generated.
Following the pandemic — and our massive unplanned experiment in working and studying from home — we have an opportunity to reduce commuting even more, with many Australians likely to continue working from home in some capacity.
To support this, we are continuing to invest in another critical piece of infrastructure, the nbn. Today 12 million homes are able to connect and 8.3 million are connected, at speeds more than able to support videoconferencing and other remote working technologies. We have committed a further £4.5 billion to further upgrade the nbn so that by 2023, 75 per cent of the fixed line network — or around eight million households — will be able to order a speed of up to one gigabit per second.
That’s blazing fast broadband. Good infrastructure is key to Australia’s productivity; to the liveability of our cities and towns; and to a sustainable future. The Morrison government’s extensive infrastructure investment program is delivering that infrastructure — and we will enjoy benefits from that for decades to come.
Paul Fletcher is Australian Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.
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