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Government announces $4.7 billion economy boost

Rudd said the benefits of the federal government’s infrastructure spending on roads, rail and education would outweigh any concerns about Australia slipping into a budget deficit.“This package will deal with critical infrastructure in transport, it deals with rail, it deals with roads, it also deals with education, it also deals with how we support private investment,” he said.“When the history of this government is eventually written, whenever that might be, we want it to be known as a government of nation building.”The package is aimed directly at projects that are ready to be built by the middle of 2010, and there are three key infrastructure elements to it:Inject $1.2 billion in new funds into the Australian Rail Track Corporation; Bring forward $711 million in road spending to this financial year and next and more than double funding for the Black Spot Program; andInvest $1.6 billion in critical university and TAFE infrastructure.The $1.2 billion set aside for the ARTC will go towards 17 projects to improve the reliability and competitiveness of the rail freight network.The capacity along the rail corridors connecting Hunter Valley coal mines to the Port of Newcastle will be expanded thanks to a $580 million investment, while other projects include:$55.8 million for Queensland border to Acacia Ridge track upgrade;$45.1 million for Sydney to Brisbane line – new, extended and upgraded loops;$29.7 million for Melbourne to Junee line – passing lanes;$45 million for Seymour to Wodonga track upgrade;$91.5 million for Cootamundra to Parkes track upgrade; and$105.7 million for Western Victoria track upgrade.“The $1.2 billion investment that we’ve announced for the Australian rail freight network is designed to make ports like this more efficient and more effective in getting Australian goods out to the rest of the world,” said Rudd.Fourteen road projects will benefit from a $711 million injection, while funds for the Black Spot Program will be doubled to $110 million. The 14 road projects to be upgraded are:The NSW Hume Highway – Woomargama Bypass;The NSW Hume Highway – Tarcutta Bypass;NSW Pacific Highway – Bulahdelah Bypass;NSW Pacific Highway – Sexton’s Hill, Banora Point;QLD Ipswich Motorway – Dinmore to Goodna;QLD Pacific Motorway – Springwood South to Daisy Hill;QLD Bruce Highway – Douglas Arterial;VIC Western Ring Road Upgrade;VIC Goulburn Valley Highway – Nagambie Bypass;VIC Western Highway – Anthony’s Cutting;VIC Princes Highway – Traralgon to Sale;WA Mandurah Entrance Road;SA Northern Expressway; andTAS Midland Highway – Brighton Bypass.The third part of the infrastructure funding is a $1.6 billion boost to the education sector, with the government providing $500 million each for universities and TAFEs to upgrade facilities and address staffing issues.Also included in the package are two tax changes.Businesses will be eligible for an extra 10% tax deduction on capital equipment, a move that is expected to cost the government $1.6 billion over the next four years.Companies can claim the deduction on tangible assets costing more than $10,000 – such as cars, cranes and other plant and equipment – purchased before June 30.The tax cut comes alongside the offer of a temporary tax holiday for 1.3 million small businesses.According to Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, a second round of funding will consider recommendations from Infrastructure Australia, and will include longer-term projects.

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