Major Illawarra infrastructure projects including the Picton Rd upgrade and Mt Ousley Interchange have escaped the Federal Government’s funding axe.
A report released on Thursday (16 November) recommended that 82 infrastructure projects slated to be completed under the previous government’s $120 billion Infrastructure Investment Program be cancelled.
Commissioned by Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, the 140-page final report of the Independent Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects described the previous government’s plan as undeliverable.
It recommended a raft of cuts or rescoping of projects not yet commenced to reduce risk to the budget and pressures on inflation.
However, all Illawarra projects funded through the program have been retained. These include the joint State-funded Mt Ousley interchange project, which will replace the existing intersection of the M1 and Mt Ousley Rd, the long-awaited upgrade of Picton Rd and planning for the Picton bypass, as well as M1 improvements between Bulli Tops and Picton Rd.
Further south, federal funding will continue for the Nowra Bridge and Milton-Ulladulla Bypass as well as planning for the Nowra Bypass.
RDA Illawarra CEDO Debra Murphy welcomed the report’s outcome.
“These projects were included in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City Partnership proposal, championed by RDA Illawarra, so it is fantastic that they will continue to be funded by the Australian Government,” she said.
“The Australian Government has retained its commitment to the $120 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects and we hope that the State Government will be in a position to maintain its joint commitment to the projects in our region.”
Ms King said the decisions on which projects to proceed with and which ones to cancel were made in consultation with the states and territories. The government now has a “forward plan of projects that are properly planned and targeted to unlock significant economic, social and environmental objectives”.
The review says the projects that will be cancelled “were not realistically going to be delivered with the funding available, have made little to no progress over a significant amount of time, and … do not align with Commonwealth or state and territory priorities”.
“The 10-year pipeline of projects cannot be delivered within the $120 billion allocation, even with current contributions from jurisdictions,” the report says.
“The Australian Government cannot afford within the current program settings to meet the identified cost pressures, nor add any new projects for delivery to the pipeline in the next 10 years, without significant changes taking immediate effect.”
The review, prepared by Professor Jane Halton, makes 15 key recommendations.
It says 100 projects that are not yet under construction should proceed, 56 projects that are not yet under construction should proceed but with the caveat that the review has identified risks that need to be satisfactorily addressed prior to delivery, 36 projects that are not yet under construction should be rescoped with complete planning and detailed costings, and 82 projects which are not yet under construction should be “ceased”.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Ms King said: “Today is a very important day in reforming the Australian Government’s investment in the nation’s infrastructure to ensure that we’ve got a more integrated, strategic and sustainable and affordable approach. The government’s committed to delivering infrastructure Australia needs, creating jobs and growing the economy while not increasing pressure on inflation”.
“The review has made 15 recommendations, all of which the government has agreed to or agreed in principle to.
“At the start of the review, I said we would not cut funding from the $120 billion pipeline. It was not a savings exercise, and we have honoured that. All states and territories have maintained their funding in the pipeline that they previously had – not a single dollar less for any state or territory over the next 10 years.”
A list of all the projects considered by the review is available here.
Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.