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States urge Frydenberg to fast-track projects to spur economy

The RBA has made clear it believes infrastructure projects should be brought forward to help the construction sector and to inject upward pressure on wages. Some states have already started spending extra cash on small-scale infrastructure.

Mr Perrottet said there was an opportunity to boost infrastructure spending by targeting smaller shovel-ready projects but the federal government should focus more on larger state building projects rather than roundabouts and car parks.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Credit:AAP

“If states were relieved of the burden of doing all the heavy lifting when it came to these large-scale projects it would allow them to divert funding towards smaller projects, which they are best placed to deliver,” he said.

Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad said the government should heed the warnings of the central bank and sink more money into new infrastructure and maintenance programs.

“We need the funding to be accelerated and these projects to be fast-tracked now to provide the stimulus needed,” she said.

“I would also like to see the federal government increase its commitment to jointly funding the maintenance of existing assets, given the role they can continue to play in supporting our communities for many decades to come.”

Treasurers on Friday will also hold a “population forum”, with Mr Pallas saying this had to acknowledge the way Victoria – the nation’s fastest growing state – was dealing with the growing demands on its infrastructure.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

“While we’ve missed out on our fair share of federal infrastructure funding, we’re delivering the biggest pipeline of major projects in our state’s history – so that Victoria has the transport, schools and hospitals our state needs as it grows,” he said.

“The Commonwealth must acknowledge we’ve tripled our infrastructure spend if this population forum is to be more than a political instrument.”

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said he understood the federal government wanted to see the financial impact of its tax cuts but it appeared they had only delivered a “minor” boost to the economy.

He said the government should be considering a suite of measures to the help the economy including a lift in Newstart.

“That will go through the economy pretty quickly,” he said.

NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat said as the RBA runs out of room to cut interest rates below its record low of 0.75 per cent and the federal government sticks to its fiscal strategy, “it is time for the states to pick up the mantle and run with it”.

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Mr Achterstraat, who on Wednesday will release a discussion paper for his first report focused on infrastructure, tax reform, natural resources, planning and regulation, said there was a double productivity benefit from bringing forward infrastructure.

“In the actual building of the infrastructure and in the long term once it is established,” he said.

The closely watched NAB business survey, released on Tuesday, showed trading conditions lifting slightly in September but remaining below their long-run average for the sixth consecutive month. Business confidence slipped to its lowest level in six years.

Consumer confidence is also being dented with the weekly measure of sentiment by the ANZ and Roy Morgan showing a sharp fall over the past 7 days.

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