Turnbull's plan to bankroll billions for regional jobs boost
BILLIONS of extra dollars from resource exports would be siphoned off to bankroll a national infrastructure building spree under a Turnbull Government plan to boost jobs and win regional votes.
The plan, yet to be ticked off by Cabinet, centres on finding the right balance between Budget repair and paying for infrastructure that revitalises regions and creates long-term jobs.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is bleeding support in regional Australia to minor parties but especially One Nation, is said to be keen on the blueprint.
Senior Nationals ministers are also pushing the plan.
It is understood the "National Development Policy" would bankroll regional projects across the country, which could include an inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane, plus infrastructure projects that could ease the energy crisis.
It could also include a new supercritical coal-fired generator in north Queensland, and hydro-storage projects across Australia.
It could mean extra city deals, including one for Rockhampton, one of the Government's most marginal seats.
Jockeying has started on how to spend the extra money expected from rising commodity prices.
Because the Government undertook cautious projections relating to metallurgical coal and iron ore prices, the upturn will likely give Treasurer Scott Morrison a windfall. The Courier-Mail has confirmed the early thinking with the offices of three Cabinet ministers.
They say how the plan develops will depend on the volatility of commodity prices, the $13 billion in savings that remain stuck in the Senate and the push for Budget repair.
On Radio 2GB yesterday, Mr Morrison said "economic growth" would be the cornerstone of his Budget.
"When we handed down our Mid-Year statement … we took a very conservative view on things like what was going to happen with commodity prices, what was going to happen with wages, so the numbers that were in that Budget, financial markets around the world could look at our Budget and go that is a pretty honest set of numbers."