Mon, May 12, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Australia budget sees past mining

Reuters, PERTH, Australia

The Australian government plans to co-fund an A$82 billion (US$77 billion) road infrastructure plan to help stimulate investment and create jobs as the impact of the country’s mining boom fades, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said yesterday.

In a television interview broadcast ahead of his government’s first annual budget to be delivered tomorrow, Hockey announced the plan to spend more than A$40 billion on roads over the next six years, to be topped up by about A$42 billion from state governments and private investors.

“We are laying a plan for the biggest increase in road expenditure in Australian history,” Hockey told the Channel Nine Network. “That is tens of thousands of new jobs, but most importantly, it is going to address the significant drop-off in investment in construction in Australia associated with mining investment coming off.”

He dubbed the economic blueprint his government is to deliver this week a “contribute and build” budget.

Australia’s A$1.5 trillion economy sailed through the global financial crisis, but a slump in mining investment and a sluggish response to record low interest rates has hit government tax income as expenditure continues to grow.

Hockey refused to comment on a widely speculated increase in the gasoline tax, but said revenue from any such hike would be invested in road projects.

“If we are going to make any changes to fuel excise [taxes] it will go into roads,” he said.

In the lead-up to the budget, the government has flagged a temporary income tax levy on earners of higher incomes, a compulsory new fee for visiting a doctor and an increase in the retirement age to 70.

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