The Prime Minister has unveiled his plan to boost the recovery through deregulation and massive infrastructure spending.
Over $100 billion of economic activity has been lost this year, while the federal budget is set for “record deficits” this year and next year due to massive stimulus spending and revenue hits.
“This will require us to recalibrate our fiscal strategy,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “Such expenditure, where carefully planned and controlled, will support growth and it will boost confidence. But we must be extremely cautious about our expenditure, especially as we navigate our way back from the record fiscal supports now in place.”
Mr Morrison announced a priority list of 15 major projects worth $72 billion in public and private investment that are on the “fast-track for approval”, including an inland rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane, an extension to the Olympic Dam in South Australia, and emergency town water projects in NSW.
“This isn’t just the roads and rail that get us to work and get us to school and get goods to markets and ports,” Mr Morrison said. “It is dams that improve water security and underpin an expansion of high-value agriculture, as part of our 2030 Agriculture Plan. The telecommunications services that keep us connected. The poles and wires which are critical to removing bottlenecks in our electricity grid, improving competition and driving down prices.”
The projects are projected to support over 66,000 director and indirect jobs.
The Morrison government will also commit $1.5 billion to small priority projects, with $1 billion allocated to projects which are “shovel-ready” and $500 million for upgrades to roads. A total of $9.3 billion in infrastructure investment has now added or brought forward over the past eight months, with further announcements on specific projects to be made soon.
Mr Morrison also said that environmental approvals would be streamlined as part of a wider deregulatory agenda, with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 up for review in an effort to cut approval times to 30 days for major projects.
“Ultimately, our objective is the streamlining of Commonwealth and state processes to a point of ‘single-touch approvals’,” Mr Morrison said. “The [national cabinet] has had early discussions on how we can achieve this objective, and there is already a high level of engagement and agreement.”
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