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PM Anthony Albanese unveils $9.6 billion infrastructure cash splash

Upgrading Australia's rail networks will be one of the package's top priorities.

Upgrading Australia's rail networks will be one of the package's top priorities. Photo: AAP

A multi-billion dollar federal government investment in infrastructure will kickstart road and rail projects across the country.

The Albanese government is pledging $9.6 billion in the October budget as it lays out spending for the 2022/23 year.

“It’s about making journeys quicker but also making sure people can get home to their families safely,” Mr Albanese said on Sunday.

“Sound and planned infrastructure investment in Australia creates jobs, builds opportunity and unlocks economic growth and productivity for our cities and our regions.”

Victoria is one of the biggest winners, with $2.2 billion to help fund the state’s Suburban Rail Loop – a project the state opposition says it will immediately scrap if it wins November’s election.

There will be $300 million for western Sydney roads and another $500 million for the High Speed Rail Authority.

Freight highways in the heart of South Australia will get a $1.5 billion upgrade and maintenance package.

Brisbane and Tasmanian roads will see between $500 million to $600 million each to upgrade road corridors, while Perth will get $125 million in funding for an electric bus network.

NSW’s lesser share

But the scheme has already draw criticism, with Australia’s most populous state NSW receiving about $1 billion in funding compared with $2.57 billion to Victoria.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King admitted that was due to a contentious relationship with NSW’s Coalition government.

“We had a slightly different relationship in opposition with the Victorians as we did with NSW, so we didn’t really have a lot of projects on the table from opposition with them,” she told the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

“But we’ll talk to the NSW government in the lead-up to the May budget as to where their priorities are.”

At least one of the those potential projects would be raising the Warragamba Dam, which will cost $1.6 billion.

Ms King said that would be discussed before next year’s budget.

It also means the end of cash for so-called “zombie projects” that had been sitting flagged but never realised in budgets under the previous coalition government, including the East West link in Victoria and the Perth Freight Link.

The Northern Territory will receive a $2.5 billion boost, including $332 million towards the NT Strategic Roads Package.

“Good infrastructure helps strengthen the economy and build connections between communities,” she said.

The $9.6 billion pledge follows a promise unveiled on Saturday by Mr Albanese to add another six weeks to the government-funded parental leave package by 2026.

It would mean Australians could access six months of parental leave, which the prime minister hoped would inspire the private sector to set the new limit as a “baseline”.

-AAP

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