Road, rail cash aims to give economic kick

Scott Morrison is detailing infrastructure spending plans for other states after South Australia.
Scott Morrison is detailing infrastructure spending plans for other states after South Australia.

The Morrison government plans to pump $1.78 billion into the economy over the next 18 months through spending more on roads and rail projects.

Over the next four years, it will put on the table $3.8 billion in fast-tracked spending, including $1 billion in new cash.

About a third of that will be spent in Queensland.

Western Australia will have a $868 million injection while the South Australia deal announced on Monday was for $415 million.

Announcements for the other states and territories are anticipated in coming days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important that governments of all persuasions could work together to get more money into the economy.

"What we've been able to do over the last six months ... we've painstakingly gone through this process of identifying the projects that can be brought forward," he told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.

"You don't just rush in to spending $3.8 billion, spraying it around out of a hose."

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the extra funding would go a long way to creating jobs in regional Australia.

"What we want to see is more hi-vis on the ground. What we want to see is more excavators pushing dirt around," he told reporters.

The government has lionised its $100 billion infrastructure pipeline since the April federal budget but has faced criticism in recent months about the speed of its delivery.

Labor, big banks, economists and the Reserve Bank have called for the government to bring forward some of the planned projects to stimulate the economy.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says the calls have been vindicated.

"For months now in the face of all of those calls from all of those organisations the government's been saying that their policy settings are bang-on and that the fundamentals of the economy are strong," he told ABC Radio.

"With this announcement today I think we can conclude that the government has been wrong all along."

Mr Morrison will reiterate his approach to economic management in a speech on Wednesday night, saying his government is providing $9.5 billion in support at a challenging time.

This includes the infrastructure bring-forward as well as the personal income tax cuts and extra drought relief done since the May election.

The prime minister is expected to trumpet his apparent successful economic management in the speech, contrasting it with what he says is Labor's instinct to panic and spend.

"A panicked reaction to contemporary challenges would amount to a serious misdiagnosis of our economic situation," he will tell the Business Council of Australia's annual dinner in Sydney.

"A responsible and sensible government does not run the country as if it is constantly at DEFCON 1 (maximum US defence readiness) the whole time, whether on the economy or any other issue.

"It deals with issues practically and soberly."

Australian Associated Press