States and territories ready to spend

By Angela Dorizas

The Rudd Government’s $42 billion economic stimulus package has received strong support from the states and territories.

The New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees said he was ready to work alongside the Federal Government to roll out nation building projects.

“We stand with the Federal Government – ready to spend, ready to build,” Mr Rees said.

“The NSW Government will fast-track the delivery of the projects announced by the Prime Minister.”

Mr Rees said the state’s share of the Federal Government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan would not replace commitments made by the NSW Government.

“Our current $56 billion investment in infrastructure over the next four years will provide 150,000 jobs each year. This stands side by side with Kevin Rudd’s announcement,” he said.

“The Rudd Government’s package will create and protect jobs, provide much needed relief for families and businesses and provide a shot in the arm to economies at every single level in this country – local, state and national.”

Victorian Premier John Brumby said the Federal Government’s plan reinforced the State Government’s commitment to the creation of new jobs.

"This is a package which is all about stimulating jobs and is completely consistent with the focus that we are about this year, which is all about jobs, jobs, jobs," Mr Brumby said.

Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett praised the Federal Government for expanding regional and local community infrastructure funding.

"We are ready and able here in Tasmania to roll out projects as quickly as possible in order to sustain local jobs," Mr Bartlett said.

"All governments have a responsibility to act in tough times and the Tasmanian Government is also doing its share. We have increased the 2008/09 roads program by 39 per cent to $171.5 million. In Education we have $41.8 million capital works program, which is 55 per cent on last year, plus there’s $20 million for school maintenance projects."

Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the stimulus package would provide a boost to the Territory’s economy, even though it was already "better placed" than other jurisdictions to withstand the global financial crisis.

“It’s big, it’s bold and it’s great news for the Territory,” Mr Henderson said.

“The Defence Housing component of the package is particularly welcome with benefits for the Territory.

"The measures complement the Territory Government measures including housing initiatives, record spending on capital works, maintaining a competitive taxation environment and attracting investment.”

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Jon Stanhope backed the plan, but during informal talks with the Prime Minister he warned that further public sector job cuts would have a "disproportionate impact" on the Territory.

In South Australia, Premier Mike Rann voiced his support for the $14.7 billion school infrastructure and maintenance funding. He said the State Government introduced a similar program in 2005, providing $30 million towards school maintenance across the state.

"I’m particularly pleased with the big burst of funding for schools in Australia," he told reporters in Adelaide.

"Out of that $14 billion we’re going to get a poultice of money for projects in South Australian schools."

Warning to councils: don’t get in our way

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh also backed the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package, estimating that the state would receive around $8 billion in funding.

“I vow to make sure that every single dollar of this package gets to the frontline to building companies and to communities that need these jobs and to get them there as quickly as possible,” Ms Bligh said.

The Premier warned bureaucrats and local councils not to obstruct the speedy delivery of infrastructure funding.

“I will not let bureaucratic hurdles get in the way of this package and this money getting to the frontline jobs that Queenslanders need,” she said.

“A number of these projects, particularly in the housing sector, will require the acquisition of land to build houses on and that will require not only State Government departments to act quickly but it will require councils to act quickly.

“We will be working in partnership with councils to make sure we can get approvals moving as soon as possible.”

Bipartisan support in Western Australia

The $42 billion package was also supported by the Liberal Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett.

“I am pleased that this package is better targeted than some of the previous initiatives announced by the Rudd Government,” Mr Barnett said.

“The Federal Government’s plan emphasises the areas of housing and education, two areas that I am confident the Western Australian Government can help to deliver, as it complements the announcement made by the State earlier this week.”

Mr Barnett said the WA Government was committed to capital works projects that would provide immediate jobs and long term investment in local and regional economies throughout the state.

The Federal Government will meet with state and territory leaders in Canberra tomorrow to discuss the implementation of the economic stimulus plan.

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