A big-spending State Budget was handed down on Tuesday that includes a $13.7 billion spend on roads and rail. That includes $2.2 fighting congestion on suburban roads, $941 million fixing country roads and plans to get more cars off the roads and more commuters on to public transport.
There will $50 million spent on planning fast rail to Geelong, $570 million upgrading train lines at Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury and $110 million dedicated to the North East Link.
Melbourne’s population is growing faster than any other capital city and is projected to overtake Sydney’s within the next few years.
But with all the money allocated to roads and rail, there was one project that missed out.
The Budget doesn’t include money towards a train line to the airport — a project Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to fund half the $10 billion cost of if the Andrews Government met them in the middle.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the government would would on the business case due for completion in September before committing any funds towards trains to Tullamarine.
“If we need to find the funds to work with the Commonwealth to deliver on airport rail link, we’re going to apply those funds seriously and diligently,” Mr Pallas said.
The Andrews Government will tackle the number one issue among Victorians — law and order. The Premier is promising to deliver more police, more specialist courts to deal with an increase in crime and a $690 million maximum-security, 700-bed prison at Lara during an election year that will likely be decided on keeping Victorians safe.
Victoria is flush with funds and will deliver another surplus, the Treasurer says.
Debt has reduced to 4.6 per cent, down from the roughly 6 per cent the government inherited.
“We think big. We act quickly. We get things done,” Mr Pallas said on Tuesday.
“We said we would deliver a strong economy, and we have. Victoria is the fastest growing economy in the nation.
“Dangerous and congested level crossings have been removed across Melbourne. Roads are being upgraded and widened to get people home sooner. New rail lines are being built to connect our suburbs and towns.
“Thousands of new police officers are being recruited to keep people safe … and we’re taking significant action to curb family violence.”
Victorian schools will get a boost with $353 million put aside for 12 new schools and upgrades to a further 130. Every prep student also gets a free bag of books. More than $170 million will be spent providing 30 priority TAFE courses free to students.
The much-maligned Etihad Stadium will be upgraded at a cost of $500 million.
Hospitals will be upgraded, including Ballarat’s hospital, which receives a $461-million revamp allowing it to treat more than 18,000 more emergency patients and an extra $14,500 inpatients each year.
More than $700 million will go towards addressing mental illness and addiction and more than $100 million will be spent creating emergency department “crisis hubs” for mental health patients at six locations.
Victoria’s shadow treasurer Michael O’Brien said he was sceptical about Labor’s promises.
“When Tim Pallas boasts about the size of his surplus, it’s a surplus built on higher taxes and higher costs of living,” he told reporters on Monday.
More to come.
— with AAP