PM to unveil $1.5 billion infrastructure funding boost

Scott Morrison wants  the states and territories to keep their focus on the economy as infections remain low.

Scott Morrison wants the states and territories to keep their focus on the economy as infections remain low. Photo: TND

An inland rail project and undersea electricity link are among 15 projects that will share $1.5 billion of federal funding as part of the government’s JobMaker plan.

In a desperate bid to create more jobs and drag the country out of recession, the Prime Minister will again push his JobMaker scheme in an address to CEDA’s State of the Nation conference on Monday.

Scott Morrison will announce a $1.5 billion cash boost for “shovel-ready” projects identified by the states and territories.

They include the inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane; the Marinus undersea electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria; the Olympic Dam extension in South Australia; emergency town water projects in NSW; and road, rail and iron ore projects in Western Australia.

Joint assessment teams will work on accelerating infrastructure projects worth more than $72 billion in public and private investment, and supporting more than 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Our No.1 priority is getting people back into jobs, and they need to be real, productive jobs. Jobs that produce goods and services that people want,” Mr Morrison will tell the conference.

He will say the government has already committed nearly $180 billion on infrastructure in the next decade, with more than half allocated across the four years of the forward estimates.

Under the JobMaker plan, five working groups made up of government, unions and business groups, will look at industrial relations reforms designed to help coronavirus recovery.

They will review awards, enterprise bargaining agreements, casual work, union and employer misconduct and greenfield agreements (which set flat wages and conditions for the lifetime of a construction project).

Mr Morrison will also ask states to “make deregulation a focus of Australia’s economic recovery”.

“We need to bring the same common sense and cooperation we showed fighting COVID-19 to unlocking infrastructure investment in the recovery.”

Vaccine funding

Once researchers develop a vaccine candidate, it will go through three phases of testing. Photo: Getty

Most Australians believe boosting funding to find a coronavirus vaccine is the best way to support the economy.

More than 3200 people were asked by the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research Methods about virus response policies, and which would best solve economic woes.

Three-quarters said increasing funding for a vaccine, with trials already underway in Australia and overseas – would make the most difference.

After that, Australians think opening pubs, clubs and cafes will best boost the economy.

The third most-supported measure was extending JobKeeper wage subsidies and boosting JobSeeker payments to the unemployed beyond September.

“If a vaccine or effective treatment can be found, it would enable the world to open up again,” study co-author Matthew Gray said.

“The problem is there is no guarantee of a cure being found and, if one is found, how quickly this will happen.”

The survey results came as premiers announced a series of coming relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, but warned vigilance was needed to keep it the virus control.

The announcements came as Victoria and NSW each recorded nine new coronavirus cases since Saturday. They were the only states to have positive cases.

Three of the new Victorian cases were return travellers in hotel quarantine, while five are close family contacts of a GP who recently tested positive.

Eight of the NSW cases are in returned travellers in hotel quarantine and one is a teacher at Laguna Street Public School in southern Sydney.

From next week, pubs and clubs in Victoria will be able to serve drinks without a meal for up to 50 people, and cafes and restaurants can increase their capacity to 50 patrons.

-with AAP

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