Noticeable change in infrastructure spending evident after $3.2b Budget commitment to WA: ECU Professor


Professor Kerry Brown.
Professor Kerry Brown.

ECU Professor of Employment and Industry Kerry Brown comments on the Federal Government’s $3.2 billion Budget commitment to Perth infrastructure.

The noticeable change in infrastructure spending especially since the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott has been spending on a mix of infrastructure types especially greater acceptance of providing federal funding for rail infrastructure as well as road infrastructure.

The State and Federal governments are more aligned in their interests to jointly fund infrastructure projects and support the creation of more integrated communities and businesses. The Morley-Ellenbrook line funding is an example of this new enthusiasm.

The expansion of rail in WA is an important initiative particularly to open up access to the north and east. Inclusion of rail solutions along with improved road infrastructure provides a better more integrated transport system and transit corridors– it is important for communities to commute to jobs but also to travel across sectors and the road and rail mix allows this better access.

Transport hubs need to be centrally positioned and the Midland station needed to be better linked to the facilities in central Midland – the spillover effects of the relocation on business and economic activity and community access to services are key benefits. The funding for the relocation of the Midland station recognises the important function of providing transit-oriented development for town centres.

Targeted spending on rail acknowledges that cars are only one part of the transport system. However, the road infrastructure funds are also better targeted to areas of greater need and community access to less congested and more diverse transit corridor options.

The announcement of the project funding indicates increased interest in WA – and increased overall spending. The pressure to support desperately needed infrastructure in NSW and Victoria has certainly meant that allocating funding in these states has taken precedence.

The Metronet spending of $1.2 billion announced in the 2017 budget showed a changed context for infrastructure spending in WA by the Federal Government and these announcements have continued the positive view for infrastructure expenditure in WA.

Professor Brown is Professor of Employment and Industry and director of the Centre for Innovative Practice in the School of Business and Law at ECU

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