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Anderson Announces Sweeping Land Transport Plan

The Hon John Anderson

Acting Prime Minister, Australia

Minister of Transport and Regional Services, Australia

21 May 2002

Anderson Announces Sweeping Land Transport Plan

The Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, has announced a plan for the Federal Government to lead sweeping changes to the development and funding of Australia's land transport infrastructure.

The Acting Prime Minister announced the new plan, AusLink, at the Re-Engineering Australia Forum this evening.

"AusLink is based on the same approach that we took in last week's Federal Budget. We are looking beyond the electoral cycle, to make the hard decisions that are needed in Australia's national interest," Mr Anderson said.

"Our country faces serious transport challenges that we need to be better equipped to address. The amount of freight carried throughout Australia is projected to double by 2020. The current fragmented approach to land transport planning will simply not be able to cope.

"AusLink will make our land transport system safer and more efficient, with less impact on the environment," Mr Anderson said.

The key elements of the plan are:

- the Federal Government will sponsor the development of an indicative rolling 5-10 year transport infrastructure development plan.

- on the basis of the national plan, the Government will seek project bids that advance the plan's strategic priorities. We will issue invitations to the states and territories, local government, regional development bodies and the private sector to put forward their most attractive bids. Private sector proposals will be given equal treatment with all other bids.

- non-engineering transport solutions, such as new technology and traffic management, will also be eligible for funding.

- we will use transparent decision-making criteria across transport modes, doing away with the separate and inconsistent treatment of road, rail and intermodal investments.

- the Government will amalgamate its land transport funding programmes, so we can allocate money to the projects that have the greatest benefits, regardless of their transport mode. Funding for regional projects will be quarantined.

- to increase the value of our infrastructure spending, we will encourage proponents to leverage their proposals. If there are two proposals evaluated as equally beneficial, the one with the greater level of investment by the proponent will have greater chance of acceptance.

- the Government will consider establishing a national advisory body to assist in the development of the national infrastructure plan. The final decisions on spending Commonwealth funds would still rest with the Federal Government.

- the Government will improve the planning focus and funding arrangements for the National Highway System, to yield higher returns to the community. We will move beyond the current 100 percent Commonwealth funding responsibility for the National Highway System, to allow joint funding of a broader national land transport network. The new network will cover critical road and rail links and their intermodal connections.

- the Government will seek to renegotiate the 1991 Roads Agreement, to replace it with a far broader Transport Infrastructure Inter-Governmental Agreement, involving the Commonwealth, states, territories, and local government. It will cover road, rail, intermodal connections, and non-engineering solutions.

"AusLink will not involve a reduction in the Commonwealth's transport expenditure. It will not affect any of the current projects funded by the Federal Government, or any projects that we have made a firm undertaking to fund," Mr Anderson said.

"It will not affect our Budget decision to spend $180 million over four years to extend the vitally important Black Spot Programme. Nor will it affect the $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery Programme. Every council will receive every cent of the money they have been promised under the programme.

"Commonwealth transport and infrastructure priorities will be clearly identified in the national plan's strategic priorities and for each round of project bidding. These will also identify those areas that are clearly not Commonwealth responsibilities. Our funding will focus on the new national cross-modal network and within this, on the projects that deliver higher national benefits.

"There is a lot of detail to be worked through, which we will do in consultation with the other levels of government, the private sector, and the community. We will issue a comprehensive discussion paper - a Green Paper - on AusLink in August this year, after we carry out an initial round of consultations with the states and key parties. We will conduct further consultations on the discussion paper, and will then develop a formal statement of Government policy - a White Paper - by March 2003," Mr Anderson said.


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