By Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will spend another A$1.5 billion ($1.03 billion) on infrastructure and fast-track approval for projects including the expansion of BHP Group’s Olympic Dam in a bid to stimulate its ailing economy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will say on Monday.
In March, Australia shut down large swathes of its economy to slow the spread of coronavirus. While the measures have slowed the infection rate, they have had a devastating toll on the economy, which is on course for its first recession in 30 years.
Australia has already brought forward A$3.8 billion in infrastructure spending, but Morrison will on Monday promise a further A$1.5 billion in funds.
“As we come out of the COVID crisis, infrastructure can give us the edge that many countries don’t have,” Morrison is expected to say on Monday, according to extracts sent to Reuters by his office.
The funds will be spent on “small priority” projects identified by Australia’s states and territories.
As well as increased spending, Morrison will say that Australia will fast-track approvals for 15 projects, including BHP’s Olympic Damn.
Projects in Australia typically take 42 months to receive necessary approval. Morrison will say that he intends to reduce this period by half.
Mining giant BHP wants to lift copper production at Olympic Dam by more than 70%.
Other projects targeted for expediated approval will include an undersea electricity connection, water projects and road projects.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)