Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s plan to increase spending on infrastructure into next year in a bid to counteract the impact of the global economic crisis is a welcome first instalment on a wider national capacity-building program, Minerals Council of Australia CEO Mitchell Hooke has said.
Speaking at Port Botany on Saturday, Kevin Rudd said the record amount of Commonwealth funding for rail improvements will make the transporting of goods to the country’s ports faster and cheaper.
Rudd said the improvements would help give Australia a competitive edge and a much needed economy boost.
The rail corridor connecting the Hunter Valley’s coal miners to the Port of Newcastle will receive $580 million in funding to expand the capacity along the corridor.
“The package’s focus on the need to clear Australia’s export bottlenecks is long overdue,” Hooke said.
“In the midst of the current downturn, it is critical that export impediments and supply constraints are removed to ensure business is able to fully capitalise on an expected re-correction in global economic conditions in the mid-term.
“Coal exports will continue to be a mainstay of the Australian economy for the foreseeable future. Governments of all persuasions must fulfil their obligation to ensure Australia’s coal export corridors are appropriately resourced and free of bottlenecks.”
Rudd told a press conference that he hoped that he will be remembered for the infrastructure package.
“When the history of this Government is written, we want to be known as a government of nation building,” he said.
The Government expects the $4.7 billion stimulus will create 32,000 jobs and produce a small increase in GDP.