On Wednesday, Victorian residents finally heard the much-anticipated state budget for 2020/2021, and the announcements have been worth the wait, especially for those within the infrastructure industry. Treasurer Tim Pallas, unveiled a slew of infrastructure projects aimed to play an integral role in not only rebuilding the state’s economic recovery but contributing to the government’s ultimate goal; creating 400, 000 jobs by 2025.
Victoria’s infrastructure blitz will amount to almost $20 billion in spending from now until 2024 and will have a particularly strong focus on rail and road projects across both metropolitan and regional Victoria. We outline some of the biggest projects below:
Rail was a stand-out star in the state budget, with multiple rail projects in both regional Victoria and the city center getting a lot of airtime. Some of the biggest projects forecasted for the inner and outer regions of Melbourne are the Suburban Rail Loop, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and the purchase of 100 Next Generation Trams.
The highly anticipated Melbourne Airport Rail Link was confirmed to receive $5 billion in funding from the Victorian government prior to yesterday’s budget announcement, and will be matched by $5 billion in funding from the federal government. The rail link once completed, will be able to take travelers from the airport into the heart of the Melbourne CBD in under 30 minutes and predicted as a great asset in promoting Melbourne tourism moving forward. Construction on the project is expected to commence in 2022 and support up to 8,000 jobs.
In addition to the Airport Rail Link the Victorian government announced it will be investing an initial $2.2 billion to kick- off their Suburban Rail Loop project, which aims to transform Victoria’s public transport system and connect Melbourne’s middle suburbs, linking every major rail line - from the Frankston line to the Werribee line - via the airport. The project is anticipated to support 800 jobs in the initial stages and then a further 20, 000 jobs during it’s construction.
The Victorian government will also be investing $1.5 billion to purchase 100 ‘Next Generation’ trams and establish a tram maintenance facility in Melbourne’s north west. These new trams will be manufactured in Victoria, creating over 1,800 jobs in manufacturing and supply chain related jobs.
Victoria’s roads will also witness a ‘maintenance blitz’ in which $450 million is being invested into maintaining and resurfacing roads across metropolitan and regional Victoria. This includes an investment of $35 million to strengthen bridges and replace older transport systems.
Regional Victoria is playing a big part in the state’s infrastructure upgrade, with $156 million being added to the flagship Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. According to the government, this investment will deliver projects identified by communities, supporting local jobs and driving local economies.
Mr. Pallas also highlighted the fact that regional infrastructure aimed at creating local jobs and supporting local communities will be a big focus. Initiatives like upgrades to regional hospitals, improvements to country roads and local schools and more reliable journeys for regional rail passengers. One initiative highlighted was the Geelong Fast Rail project which is expected to reduce travel times between Geelong and Melbourne and carry more passengers than on the state’s busiest regional rail line. The Victorian government has invested $2 billion into the project which matches the Commonwealth’s commitment to the project. Another initiative announced, was the upgrade to the next stages of the Shepparton and Warrnambool train line which is being allocated $660 million in funding. The project will allow regional Victorians more reliability when travelling to and from Melbourne and enable VLocity trains to the state’s south-west for the very first time.
In regards to regional road upgrades, the budget is dedicating $17 million to upgrade freight routes for farmers and processors in Victoria’s vital south-west dairy supply chain, saving them time and money. Meanwhile one of Victoria’s iconic tourist destinations – the Great Ocean Road- will be experiencing a makeover, with $255 million being funded to improving the road and it’s surroundings and projected to deliver a pipeline of over 390 local jobs.
Alongside the big spending for road & rail, the Andrews government has also set aside $540 million to develop six dedicated renewable energy hubs (REZ) across the state for new renewable energy zones. This is additional to the $797 million dedicated to make Victorian housing more energy efficient, replacing old heating appliances and expanding the state’s solar power rebate scheme.
The six renewable energy zones which will be built ‘from sunny Mildura to the windy east coast’ and aim to unlock - and accommodate - gigawatts worth of new large scale solar and wind power, to help achieve the government’s overarching goal of having 50% renewables by 2030- a goal that is estimated to create around 24,000 jobs. The Victorian Government has described the REZs as the ‘energy hubs of the future’ and state energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio has stated that the decision to invest in these hubs will drive Victoria’s economic recovery from coronavirus through renewable, reliable energy that will support tens of thousands of Victorian jobs.
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