Social infrastructure set to benefit from Victorian budget 2022-23

Melbourne, Victoria. Photo by Simona Sergi on Unsplash.

The Victorian Government has maintained a strong infrastructure spending in its budget for 2022-23, allocating a total of $85.3 billion in general government expenditure to infrastructure over the next four years.

Delivering the budget speech yesterday, the state’s Treasurer Tim Pallas MP said the state would spend an average of $21.3 billion a year on infrastructure over the budget and forward estimates.

Health, education and regional infrastructure are big winners in the state’s budget, with the government committing to building  a new $1 billion hospital in Melbourne’s western suburb of Melton, spending $333 million to hire almost 400 triple-zero workers and $124 million for more paramedics.

Werribee Mercy Hospital and Casey Hospital will see their emergency department doubled under an $236 million investment.

Overall, the budget allocates $2.9 billion in new capital commitments for health and $1.6 billion for new schools across the state. This includes $581.5 million invested to build 13 new schools, which will open in 2024.

Regional Victoria, including Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and Gippsland will have millions spent on sports infrastructure and athlete hubs as part of a total $2.6 billion spent on preparing for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Transport investment

The 2022-23 state budget invests $3.5 billion in transport across Victoria including planning, infrastructure, maintenance and services.

This includes $383 million to be provided for additional train services across the state and to operate new transport infrastructure that is being delivered as part of the Big Build, including level crossing removals, rail extensions, train station upgrades and road upgrades.

Preparation activities for day one operations of the Metro Tunnel will also be progressed, including the recruitment and training of train drivers and other critical staff, maintenance of new assets and the development of wayfinding and customer information.

Funding of $250 million will be provided by the state government to purchase an additional 12 VLocity trains for services on the Shepparton and Warrnambool lines. This investment will add to the $986 million committed in last year’s budget to fund 25 new X’Trapolis 2.0 metro trains for metropolitan Melbourne. The trains are built in Alstom’s Ballarat facility.

The 2022-23 Budget invests $248 million to deliver a package of V/Line projects to support the reliability and efficiency of V/Line operations, and major periodic maintenance and routine maintenance works across Victoria’s rail freight corridors to support the safety and sustainability of rail freight in regional Victoria.

Road safety

The government is also investing $993 million in Victoria’s road network and to improve road safety.

This includes $213 million being invested to upgrade Mickleham Road between Somerton Road and Dellamore Boulevard and the planning and development of a future stage. The improvements will include upgraded intersections, new traffic lights and new paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

An additional $226.7 million will go towards high-priority and intersection upgrade projects at locations across the state including the Bass Highway in Kilcunda.

Combining output and asset funding, this budget invests $780 million in road asset management in 2022-23 – more than 37 per cent higher than the average of the previous decade ($567 million).

In addition to maintaining output expenditure on works such as routine maintenance and pavement resurfacing, the budget will include a record asset expenditure of $187 million on pavement rehabilitation, drainage renewal and structures renewal.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia welcomes investment

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the nation’s leading infrastructure think tank, has welcomed the state’s infrastructure spend, with Chief Executive Adrian Dwyer admiring the Treasurer’s decision to reprofile the funding for infrastructure.

“In the face of growing cost pressures in the labour market and across the supply chain, the government has rightly reprofiled funding for infrastructure in this year’s Budget,” Mr Dwyer said.

“While the Budget delivers a slight $4.9 billion moderation in spending, infrastructure funding as a share of general government expenditure remains nation-leading at 22.6 per cent – or almost one in every four Budget dollars.”

Mr Dwyer, however, said the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia remained concerned about the ongoing and elevated infrastructure underspend this year.

“The pressures of a hot market combined with a record infrastructure stimulus investment have led to a 22 per cent or $5.3 billion underspend in this year’s Budget,” he observed.

“The Victorian Government will need to work with industry and refocus its efforts to get these dollars deployed.”

To access the 2022-23 Strategy and Outlook  for the Victorian Budget, click here.

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