The 2017-18 Victorian Budget will have a significant impact on the State’s technical professionals, with continued major infrastructure spending. The budget includes $52.5 billion in infrastructure spending over the forward estimates, with an average of $9.6 billion per year. This figure builds on last years’ budget, and will play a major role in driving economic growth over the years ahead.
Infrastructure is critical to building a more liveable, more competitive and more productive State. Professionals Australia welcomes the additional funding for infrastructure programs, and challenges the government to ensure that Victorians receive the best value for their investment.
Major road and rail projects will provide a raft of opportunities for engineers, while initiatives to boost development in outer suburbs and regional areas will welcome support for local governments in these areas. Other infrastructure projects including spending on hospitals and schools will create related opportunities for engineers, architects, ICT professionals and scientists.
The Victorian Government has outlined major investments in rail over the coming years, encouraging more commuters onto the State’s public transport networks. Major rail projects in the budget include:
- $673 million – for the widening of Melbourne’s M80 ring road by 2021, half of which will be funded by the federal Government.
- $100 million for the planning and early work on the North-East link, a priority project for the state according to Infrastructure Australia.
- $300 million to build the Mordialloc Bypass, linking the Dingley Bypass to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.
- $7.7 million to replace aging noise walls on Victoria’s freeways.
- $96.6 million for Yan Yean Road – Stage 2
Rail is one of the big winners from the 2017-18 budget, with the Victorian Government outlining major investments in rail over the coming years. This will encourag more commuters onto the State’s public transport networks and address connections to regional areas. Major rail projects in the budget include:
- $1.45 billion in regional rail upgrades, including $435 million for the Gippsland line, improvements to the Warrnambool, Echuca, Bendigo and Ballarat services, and $110 million for the new Surf Coast rail project to Torquay.
- $67 million in safety upgrades to the metropolitan rail network.
- $10 million in planning costs for the Melbourne airport rail link.
- $316.4 million for major maintenance works to boost regional on-time train performance and reliability.
- Ongoing funding for level crossing removals, reducing congestion on local roads and enabling additional services.
In a major win for the state’s translators and interpreters, the Victorian Government has announced much needed support for public-sector services and wages, which goes some way to addressing the ongoing issues facing the profession. The announcement includes:
- $21.8 million in additional funding for Victoria’s language services. The announcement specifically notes that this additional funding will be used to “increase remuneration and improve conditions for interpreters and translators”, meaning that this money will be going into the pockets of Victoria’s language professionals.
The Victorian Budget announced a major investment in new water infrastructure, in an effort to provide a secure water supply to more Victorians. The majority of measures target regional areas, focussing on modernisation, education programs and waterway improvements. Major announcements include:
- $102.6 million to manage Victoria’s precious water resources. This includes funding to address climate change challenges, rural and agricultural water, and better management of the state’s resources.
The Victorian Government has outlined significant new initiatives addressing the security of Victoria’s power supply. Major announcements include:
- $88.8 million to continue the Government’s plan to modernise Victoria’s energy system.
- $42.5 million for the Victorian Gas Supply Program, to identify and assess the potential for new discoveries of onshore conventional gas, offshore gas and underground gas storage by undertaking extensive scientific, technical and environmental studies.
The Victorian Government has provided a range of measures in support of the State’s manufacturing sector and encourage international trade. The Budget also uses its procurement function to support locally manufactured products. Major announcements include:
- $90 million over two years to attract start-ups and new businesses to Victoria
- A program for manufacturers exposed to high energy prices especially in the gas market.
The budget will provide continued support for science, with several initiatives funding additional health screenings, and other aimed at promoting STEM skills. Major initiatives include:
- $8 million for genome testing for children and adults with rare diseases, and almost $16 million to respond to a review into Melbourne’s thunderstorm asthma emergency.
- $12.8 million to fund an additional 45,000 breast, bowel and oral cancer tests to reduce the number of cancer deaths over the next decade.
Alongside road and rail, the Budget announced major investment in hospitals and schools over the coming years, providing opportunities for engineers, architects, scientists and ICT professionals. Major announcements include:
- Over $80 million for maternal and child health services.
- Over $60 million to upgrade the emergency department at the Monash Medical Centre.
- $44.4 million in upgrades to six Victorian special schools, including $11.4 million for the redevelopment of Bayside Development Special School.
- $50 million in funding for the redevelopment of Footscray Hospital.
- $44 million to expand the Thomas Embling forensic mental health hospital.
- $685 million to build nine new schools and upgrade existing schools.