“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to find savings – you’ll definitely see the first stage of the waste and road audit, you’ll see the results of that [in the budget],” she says.
“But we also said he would deliver on our campaign commitments, helping to address cost of living pressures where we can without increasing inflation.”
Neither minister revealed how much the government would save on subsidies or cut programs before the budget, King said the commuter parking fund would not continue and there was “a big mess” in the regional grant programs.
“I had to look really hard at where the previous government had invested, where it was really going to help economic development in the regions, and really work my way through those,” she said.
The infrastructure minister said the $2 billion regional accelerator fund was a strange program, and while the government would retain some elements, including funding for training and universities, a lot of those promises of the Coalition would disappear.
The fund to build better regions is also in the spotlight, King said, as many applications were not assessed before the previous government left. The government is also working through community development grants to see which projects are worth funding and which end up on the chopping block, she said.
“I actually recognize how important funds like this are for regional communities and for local government, in particular, to be able to top up in terms of local infrastructure,” King said.
“So there will be a regional subsidy program of some kind. It won’t be the kind of terribly biased program we’ve seen in the past.
King said his department will also ensure that all Labor infrastructure commitments worth more than $5 million are reviewed.
“If they come to me and say, based on the merits, this project can’t proceed, then I won’t proceed,” she said.
The federal government’s biggest infrastructure commitment – $2.2 billion for the commuter rail loop in Victoria – has yet to be scrutinized by Infrastructure Australia. King said Labor relied on the Victorian government’s business case for that election promise.
“It will be a contested project for sure, but it’s something we have confidence in,” she said.
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