KEY government ministers have talked up this week’s budget as a win for trade and for infrastructure.
The budget was handed down by treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday night, with big spending aimed at overcoming the economic impact of COVID-19.
Trade minister Simon Birmingham said with one in five jobs dependant on trade, the government would continue to support Australian exporters by keeping open trading channels open and expanding market access.
“That’s why our government will invest $6.6m over four years to pursue new free trade agreement opportunities around the world and boost digital trade within our region,” Senator Birmingham said.
“These efforts build on our ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with key trading partners including the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
The budget also provides $317.1m to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until the middle of next year.
“This initiative will continue to keep Australian farmers in business by ensuring they can get their high-quality produce into key export markets,” Senator Birmingham said.
“I will work with Home Affairs portfolio ministers and lead a new Joint Ministerial Taskforce on Simplified Trade, working with a dedicated Industry Advisory Council, to make trading simpler and cheaper by reducing red tape, increasing the resilience of our supply chains, and supporting trade growth and expansion,” Minister Birmingham said.
Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack said the Australian government was directly investing $2 billion in the 2020-21 budget towards road safety.
“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and the Government is playing our part by investing in road safety projects to get people where they need to be sooner and safer,” Mr McCormack said.
“We are committing an additional $2bn over 18 months under a new Road Safety Program to deliver an estimated 3,000 kilometres of lifesaving road improvements and support thousands of jobs right across the country.”
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said road crashes cost the national economy about $30 billion a year and caused immeasurable suffering for affected families.