7 May 2018

Budget: Millions to accelerate work on Monaro and Barton Highways

| Ian Bushnell
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A sign urging Barton Highway drivers to stick to the speed limit. Photo: Yass Valley Shire Council.

Two of the ACT region’s main arterial roads will be upgraded further with the allocation of $200 million in funding in the Federal Budget.

Liberal Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, said $100 million each would go towards works on the Monaro and Barton Highways.

He said the Monaro Highway Upgrade Package was important infrastructure funding to ensure Canberrans, and many residents over the border in NSW, were able to efficiently commute to and from the south of the ACT.

“Projects such as the Lanyon Drive-Monaro Highway Flyover and the Monaro Highway Widening in both directions through select sections are now on the table,” Senator Seselja said.

The increasingly busy Barton Highway, which has been the subject of a campaign for duplication, will receive $100 million to continue the upgrades under the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative.

“This commitment will improve connectivity between regional NSW and the ACT,” Senator Seselja said.

“Projects to reduce congestion and improve the safety of these roads are amongst the options being considered, with the Barton Highway duplication business case due later this year, and the 2016 election commitment of a study investigating the widening of the Monaro Highway under way,” he said.

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Is there a Federal election coming anytime soon?

The way the cash is being splashed and tax cuts mooted one would think so. I am please the budget emergency is now a thing of the past.

Money for the Barton Highway was promised in the 2016 campaign so it looks like that promise is being kept and maybe Zed Seselja has been doing his job in securing some infrastructure funding for the ACT. Replacing the lights at the Monaro Lanyon intersection with a flyover should improve traffic flow at a point that is currently a bottleneck in the evening peak.

In regards to the state of the budget, we’ll just have to wait until tonight to see what the forecasts are like for when we return to surplus and start paying down the debt.

Capital Retro9:36 pm 08 May 18

The looming electoral boundary shuffles have the coalition spooked. There will surely be an election later this year. Labor will be in disarray because of further referral of some sitting members to the High Court to rule on their eligibility to occupy seats in parliament. This is despite Bill Shorten crowing loudly last year that all Labor members were squeaky clean on the citizenship issues.

Highlights what is wrong with the country really.

Government is betting its survival on a budget that is smoke and mirrors and based on throwing out/ignoring everything they used to get to get into power. Budget emergency anyone? Plus they are relying on getting political mileage from having a few labor pollies thrown out.

Me personally I would rather see a real plan for the future and the budget certainly didn’t deliver if you look past the tax cut headlines, or indeed look into the tax cut details.

JC, another way to look at it is that Abbott’s debt and deficit remedies were rejected by voters and so Turnbull moved away from those austerity measures to a plan to repair the budget through growing the economy. I’m sure you remember the Jobs and Growth slogan from 2016. We have seen significant jobs growth, if low wages growth, in recent years and it looks like that growth is now flowing into the budget, giving the government additional funds to spend on infrastructure, which will create more jobs, as well as start paying down debt earlier than previously planned, which will start reducing the government’s interest bill, and providing a little bit of tax relief.

In regards to a plan for the future, we have more funding for education than Labor had for Gonski 1.0, we have increased funding for hospitals, increased funding for aged care, the NDIS now fully funded, increased funding for research and increased business investment that’s creating more jobs and securing tax revenue into the future. We also have some tax reform pencilled in with the planned abolition of the 37% bracket. What else would you like to see?

One thing I liked about the Howard-Costello budgets was that the forecasts were conservative and we regularly ended up with a stronger end result. This meant that there was a safety net built into the budget for unexpected outcomes. Under Labor & Abbott-Hockey, the forecasts were too optimistic and meant the government was always committed to spending money it didn’t have. We finally appear to have returned to prudent budgeting.

Sure, there’s definitely a sniff of vote buying here but the tax plan is actually enacting recommendations from the Henry Review.

Remember the Henry Review? The one that Labor commissioned and then promptly threw in the bin in 2010 as soon as the recommendations were handed down?

I would not be so sure we are moving back towards ‘conservative forecasts’. Future forecasts around growth, wages growth etc still remain very optimistic given what is actually being seen on the ground.

The tax cuts (both corporate and personal) and overall budgetary improvements are very reliant on the recent upswing being sustained for an extended period, and being combined with significant wages growth – and I just can’t see where that is going to come from any time soon. I think ABS statistics in particular are probably overestimating the overall health of the economy at this stage – only time will tell.

As for the tax reform, it will be interesting to see the overall reaction to that in the community. While most will welcome paying lower tax, I’d like to think that many won’t be too happy to see such a flattening of the progressiveness of the taxation arrangement. I’m not convinced that someone earning $41K should face the same marginal tax rate as someone earning $199K a year.

Howard and Costellos budget forecasts weren’t conservative, they simply reflected the facts that the economists forecasts are always wrong.

And when they’re wrong, they’re far more likely to be wrong on the lower side in a boom and the higher side in a downturn.

It actually highlights how much windfall revenue was wasted by Howard and Costello in bribing votes.

Garfield do you believe the current state of the coming is due to any government policy?

From what I can see it is a normalisation of the economy after a downturn rather than a change to policy, simply because except for talk the government has done buggerall.

And it highlights what a farce the debt and deficit campaign was.

What we should be doing though is hold off token tax cuts and invest that money into things that will either help the country long term or genuinely grow the economy.

With budgeting, there are so many variables its difficult to pick out individual policies that have a positive impact, but 1 thing I think has helped has been the higher small business immediate depreciation write off threshold and the lift in the revenue test to be classed as a small business. It has allowed businesses to increase investment in plant & equipment, allowing them to become more profitable, and so pay more tax, or hire more staff who pay more tax.

While I’m generally more supportive of Liberal rather than Labor economics, I’m still undecided on the tax cuts for big business. We still have a lot of debt and I would like to see it paid down sooner than either party is proposing. One of the reasons we came through the early years of the GFC so well was that we had no net federal government debt. That’s not the case now. I think I’d rather see the immediate write off threshold increased and allow bigger companies to access it, or to tie big business tax cuts to increased R&D spending so that we are doing more to generate new sources of income for the future.

I watched Shorten’s budget reply tonight and leaving aside the usual rhetoric that comes from both sides and annoys most voters, one thing I didn’t like was that Labor was again saying that higher income earners did not deserve any reduction in taxes. I firmly believe that when taxes get lowered, everyone who pays taxes should see some reduction, and those who earn the most should see the biggest reductions because they’re already paying proportionally more due to our progressive tax system. Labor was again displaying tall poppy syndrome at its worst.

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