THE Federal Government will spend $637 million on Queensland's Bruce Hwy in the next fiscal year, an all-time record for the state's main transport corridor.
In plans to be announced in Tuesday's Federal Budget, work will begin in 2013-14 on four sections of the highway including two high-traffic areas on the Sunshine Coast.
Eight projects will be slated for completion by the middle of next year, including a higher bridge at the Yeppen Floodplain near Rockhampton - a crucial link that has been repeatedly flooded.
In April the government revealed plans to spend $4.1 billion upgrading the Bruce Hwy over the next decade, including some money which was committed last year.
But Tuesday's budget will put specific timeframes on some of the promises made during Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recent trip north.
Money to fix black spots and build new overtaking lanes and rest areas will also be included in the record annual spend on the highway.
News of the Bruce Hwy funding comes after the government announced $718 million would be spent on the Gateway Mwy in Brisbane and other infrastructure commitments in southern cities.
The government will likely also face further scrutiny of funding decisions on the Pacific Hwy and Ipswich Mwy when the budget is unveiled on Tuesday.
It will be arguably Treasurer Wayne Swan's toughest budget, with the looming election and growing fall-out from several years of neglect on key structural issues creating an atmosphere of tension.
But after last year's Spreading the Benefits of the Boom largely failed to deliver, Tuesday's budget will focus on a theme of jobs and growth.
Mr Swan told the Labor caucus on Monday his sixth budget would focus on maintaining the economic strengths against the backdrop of falling tax revenue and the high Australian dollar.
On Sunday, Mr Swan told Laurie Oakes he would "take his medicine" and suffer any political consequences, after previously promising a surplus.
"And as we've gone through this year, the revenue write-downs have got larger and larger, and at every stage of that process I've informed the Australian people about what has been happening, and I have taken the responsible course," he said.
The latest forecasts had the likely result being a $17 billion revenue write-down, while the Reserve Bank was predicting a slow recovery over the next few years, as hard commodities continue to fall before the non-mining sector picks up the pace.
As part of wider cuts in announced in recent weeks, Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Monday admitted a planned increase to Australia's foreign aid was dropped.
But he said the foreign aid budget would still be a record high, to $5.7 billion in 2013-14, despite that figure only being .37% of GDP, or significantly lower than the 0.5% of GDP promised in last year's budget.
Federal Budget 2013:
What we know:
- 0.5% increase to the Medicare levy from 2013-14 to pay for NDIS
- At least a $17 billion fall in tax revenue
- Scrapping of promised tax cuts from 2015 linked to carbon tax
- Scrapping of promised increase to Family Tax Benefit Part A payments
- Changes to superannuation, including a 15% tax on earnings over $100,000
- $2.8 billion in cuts to tertiary education
- $100 per fortnight increase to the amount unemployed or sole parents can earn without losing benefits. (Cost $258 million over four years)
- Deferring the 0.5% increase to foreign aid budget by one year, to 2017-18
- $580 million saving in administration costs in the public service (up to 400 PS job cuts)
- $55.7 million to expand the breast cancer screening target group to include women aged 70 to 74.
- $400 million to start F3 to M2 link in Sydney
- $718 million to fix Gateway Mwy bottlenecks
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