Australia to invest $77b in roads

Perth: The Australian government will co-fund an A$82 billion (Dh282 billion, $77 billion) road infrastructure plan to help stimulate investment and create jobs as the impact of the country's mining boom fades, Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Sunday.

In a television interview ahead of his government's first annual budget, to be delivered next week, Hockey announced the plan to spend more than A$40 billion on roads over the next six years, to be topped up by some 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 will deliver on May 13 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.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government have been preparing voters for big spending cuts ahead of the May 13 budget to deal with deficits forecast at A$47 billion this year and totalling A$123 billion over the next four years.


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