The Berejiklian government, which spent $21 billion on infrastructure last year, will increase that to $22.6 billion in 2020-21 before pushing it up further to $22.9 billion in 2021-22.
The federal government will double its infrastructure spend this year to $10.9 billion before increasing to $13.7 billion by 2023-24 while the Andrews government in Victoria will almost double its spending to $18.1 billion by the same year.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Adrian Dwyer said all administrations were planning to spend a combined $225 billion on general infrastructure over the next 4 years, with the growth in expenditure out-stripping that of other public spending.
“Infrastructure investment has been firmly placed in the driving seat of this economic recovery,” he said. “Combined, governments are pumping nearly $5 billion of infrastructure spend into the economy every month – that’s the equivalent of building one new Western Sydney Airport a month, every month, for 48 months.”
Rail projects at the state level have contributed heavily to the large increase in expenditure. NSW is sinking $28 billion into the Sydney Metro program while Victoria is spending $19 billion on the Melbourne airport rail link, the suburban rail loop and Geelong fast rail.
Other projects have also won support. Queensland is spending $1 billion and WA $449 million on their school upgrade programs.
Spending will peak at $71 billion in 21-22 but will remain elevated in the years after. In 2023-24, governments still expect to be spending more than $66 billion on infrastructure.
Much of the extra spending is being paid for with increased debt. Gross liabilities across all levels of government are forecast to reach $2.5 trillion by 2023-24.
Mr Dwyer said governments were not only investing in large projects but also smaller projects that could be deployed quickly.
In his mid-year budget update, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed the economy will be increasingly reliant on the public sector to “significantly” bolster growth to the June quarter of 2022.
“Commonwealth, state and territory budget updates have detailed a significant increase in infrastructure spending over the next four years, focusing on transport and public housing, along with school and hospital upgrades,” federal Treasury noted.