The building and construction industry in Victoria has hailed record infrastructure spending in the state budget, saying the new investment will deliver much needed stimulus to the Victorian construction industry.
Dubbed Building for Growth, State Treasurer Michael O’Brien’s first budget reveals record infrastructure investment of $6.1 billion in 2013/14 rising to $6.4 billion the following year.
Major projects to receive funding include:
- A commitment to start works on the East West Link (Stage 1) by the end of 2014
- $10 million to progress planning for the Melbourne Metro rail connection
- $110 million to plan for the future multi-billion upgrade of the Port of Hastings
- $280 million for road upgrades and maintenance projects
- $52 million for early works to remove railway crossings
- $203 million to build five new schools
- $629 million for key hospital upgrades
- New hospitals for Bendigo, Monash and the redevelopment of the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
The housing construction industry, too, will benefit from an increase in the First Home Owner Grant for newly constructed homes, which now goes up to $10,000, and the bringing forth of a 40 per cent First Home Buyer land transfer duty concession, which will now start in July as opposed to next January as originally planned.
Master Builders Association of Victoria executive director Brian Welch says many of the projects on the list were ones the industry had called for previously.
He says the first stage of the East-West Link – which will connect the end of the Eastern Freeway to CityLink at the Tullamarine Freeway – will generate 3,200 jobs and slash travel times between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink and help insulate the state against loss of important construction skills.
“This project will ensure the Victorian construction industry retains much sought after skills that may have been lost forever to other states, particularly around tunnelling,” Welch says.
Victorian Property Council executive director Jennifer Cunich agrees saying the budget represents an important public and private infrastructure program and that investment in social and employment infrastructure will help ensure Victoria’s growth areas will not become “another Western Sydney.”
Cunich also welcomes the creation of a new Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure.
But she cautions much of the increase in spending will come from tax revenue associated with the property sector through increases in stamp duty, land tax, fire services property levy and car parking levy and says the industry is concerned about a growing government ‘addiction’ to property taxation.