No surprise in budget

By: Amie Hickland

A Federal Budget heavy on road infrastructure is not a surprise to the industry

Infrastructure investments and fuel excise are some of the budget reforms concerning the Australian bus and coach industry after the announcement of the Australian Government Budget 2014-15 this week.

Under the budget, the Infrastructure Growth Package will take the Government's infrastructure investment to $50 billion by 2019-20.

As a result, total infrastructure investment from Commonwealth, state and local government as well as the private sector will build an additional $125 billion by 2019-20.

Treasurer Joe Hockey says the budget creates a path back to surplus and slashes projections for debt, in a joint statement with Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann.

Professor John Stanley, of the University of Sydney, says there weren’t any surprises in the budget in terms of infrastructure.

"I don’t think there’s any surprises," he says.

"It’s very much focused on road expansion as we were led to believe it would be."

Stanley adds there is little for public transport apart from Victoria’s Regional Rail Link, although the funding committed is for the completion of the project which has been underway for some time.

He says the situation will place more pressure on State Governments to fund projects to correct the "unbalance" created by the Federal Government.

Bus Industry Confederation Executive Director Michael Apps has welcomed the announcement of additional infrastructure funding but says more could be done to make use of the infrastructure already in place.

"The announcement of additional funding to expedite the construction of the West Connex and funding for other major road projects is a step in the right direction, but there’s more to do," he says.

"The decision to include sections of bus priority on these road projects reflects good planning for future transport needs and clear thinking by the Federal and NSW State Governments."

Apps says the work being undertaken by Infrastructure Australia in conducting an infrastructure audit and developing a 15 year rolling infrastructure plan was crucial in identifying how to make the most out of existing roads and public transport infrastructure by making small and targeted improvements and investments.

"From a bus industry perspective the roads of the future are the ones we don’t need to build because we are making best use of existing infrastructure and we have more people out of their cars and on to public transport or walking and cycling," he says.

Under the budget, the Government will also secure funding for additional road infrastructure by reintroducing twice-yearly indexation of fuel to CPI from August 1.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook