Axed infrastructure projects back on track

VITAL funds cut from the upgrading of the Pacific Highway could soon be back on the road, with the State Government announcing it is reconsidering infrastructure projects axed in last year's mini-Budget.

In November the State Government capped its contributions to the Pacific Highway upgrade at $500 million, a $113 million drop from a Budget commitment made last June.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser labelled the move 'a disgrace' given the number of deaths that occur on the notorious stretch of highway that cuts through the Coffs Coast.

But Premier Nathan Rees has thrown out a lifeline, announcing that the government is reconsidering infrastructure projects it axed last year as it prepares to spend $57 billion to help stimulate the economy.

While the Premier has yet to hint at what infrastructure projects will be reconsidered, Mr Fraser has a wishlist for the Coffs Coast.

“Obviously health needs funding, and roads, with the Pacific Highway a standout, and our schools need upgrading as well,” he said.

“The more spent in regional areas on infrastructure, the better the outcome for the local economy.”

Mr Fraser said the Premier's move to cut funding in November, then boost funding in February was 'Mr Rees making that many backflips he's going to run into himself'.

Mr Rees said job creation is a priority of the infrastructure spending, echoing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's determination to weather the economic storm through concentrated spending.

Mr Rees said the government is prepared to bring forward projects and engage in additional spending.

“Any new project to be brought forward or announced will need to be essential to economic growth and it will need to provide jobs in specific areas and protect jobs,” he said.

Mr Rees confirmed the government was prepared to put the State into further deficit so the infrastructure projects could be financed.

  • AUSTRALIA'S flagging economy could be stimulated by a $2 billion Federal Government injection to fast track construction of 25,000 rental dwellings, the housing industry says.

But extending a more generous first home owner's grant beyond June 30 is not a preferred option for the industry because it will remove the urgency to take advantage of the boosted grant.

Federal cabinet met yesterday to finalise the government's latest response to a flagging economy and the global financial meltdown.

Its first economic stimulus package included big increases to the first home owner's grant scheme as a way of helping the housing industry. The Housing Industry Association (HIA) says constructing approved rental housing is now its priority.

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