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VICTORIA is poised for a billion-dollar boost in road and rail funding ahead of the federal Budget in a stunning about-face from the Turnbull Government.
The Herald Sun understands the federal and state governments are close to agreeing on a package of more than $1 billion, which will end a tense stand-off over funding linked to the sale of the Port of Melbourne.
The Federal Government is expected top up its offer of $877 million to the Andrews Government from the asset recycling fund.
It comes as a senior bureaucrat confirmed Victorians were being short-changed, with the state receiving a paltry 7.7 per cent of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure budget despite being home to 25 per cent of the nation’s population.
Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have been under increased internal pressure to lift infrastructure funding to the state, which had expected to gain $1.4 billion from the sale of the Port last year.
Mr Morrison claimed last year he had “no obligation to send them a cent” because Victoria did not reach a deal before the asset recycling program closed.
Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed last year he had “no obligation” to send Victoria a cent. Picture Kym Smith
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development confirmed at a Senate Estimates hearing on Monday night that the Commonwealth would invest just $2.045 billion out of a national program worth $26.5 billion on Victorian infrastructure between 2016-17 and 2019-20.
Department secretary Mike Mrdak also acknowledged that Victoria was “facing significant infrastructure pressures’’ because of a high rate of population growth.
Infrastructure Australia last week listed four congestion-busting priorities projects including a Hoddle Street upgrade, improved connections between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink and a connecting road between West Gate Freeway, the Port of Melbourne and the city’s north.
In November Mr Turnbull unlocked $1.5 billion in federal money, which had been in limbo since Premier Daniel Andrews cancelled the East-West project. It will go towards a $1 billion upgrade of the Monash Freeway, a $700 million upgrade to the M80 Ring Road and $690 million for rural and regional roads.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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