CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government is committing $4.3 billion for a new dry dock facility in Perth’s south ahead of the upcoming budget on March 29.
The government expects the project will support 2000 direct jobs when it’s built and 500 during the peak of construction.
It would be the country’s second dry dock used to build and maintain large ships. The other is in Sydney and was built during WWII.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in Perth on Tuesday, told The West Australian the project would turn the Henderson maritime precinct into “a world-class shipbuilding powerhouse”.
The dry dock is one of three pre-budget announcements made on Tuesday after Environment Minister Sussan Ley unveiled a $128 million package to streamline environmental procedures and cut green tape and Industry Minister Angus Taylor set aside $55 million to shore up the supply of Australian steel.
But Finance Minister Simon Birmingham remained tight-lipped on what the government would do to ease the cost of living, as petrol prices soar above $2 a litre and the price of goods jumps due to higher transportation costs.
“When it comes to fuel prices Australians, I think, understand and know that it’s been driven by Russia’s horrific actions against Ukraine and the disruptions that are caused globally. It’s not a factor caused here in Australia,” he told the ABC.
“But in terms of the priorities for Australia, it’s about keeping our economic growth going, keeping jobs growth going, not adding to any pressures that inflation is causing on interest rates.”
Senator Birmingham also declined to confirm whether the government was looking at tax relief.
“I’m not going to give speculation to any particular measure because we have to carefully weigh a very complex global environment,” he said.
“We don’t want to do anything that further adds to the pressure in relation to interest rates and the inflationary environment, either. But we will, of course, always look carefully at how we can help Australians.”
Labor frontbencher Jason Clare said cost of living pressures were present before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Childcare has jumped by $800 a year … rent has jumped by $2000 a year,” he said.
“Suddenly you’ve got the government working out that people are struggling 50 days before people start to vote.”