Federal Labor leader Kim Beazley said Labor?s upgrading of the highway would depend on Peter Costello?s Future Fund.
Federal Labor leader Kim Beazley said Labor?s upgrading of the highway would depend on Peter Costello?s Future Fund.

Labor plans to set out priorities



FEDERAL Labor's plans for improving the Pacific Highway on the Northern Rivers depends on plans to commandeer Treasurer Peter Costello's 'Future Fund'.

Labor leader Kim Beazley yesterday told The Northern Star Federal Labor's planned Australian Infrastructure Council would set spending priorities for infrastructure work across Australia, including the Northern Rivers, if it wins office in 2007.

The council's umbrella would cover every form of infrastructure, with Mr Beazley naming roads, the highway, rail, and telecommunications as some of the areas that would be considered.

The council would draw funding for projects from the Future Fund, announced by Federal Treasurer Peter Costello in last month's budget.

Mr Costello's plan is to build a pool of cash ? $100 billion over 10 years ? to cover Commonwealth public servants' superannuation.

At present those payments are being paid each year out of the Federal budget. The Future Fund would set aside the money needed to cover public service super outside of the budget process.

The fund starts this year when it takes on $16 billion in accumulated government surpluses.

Over time it is expected to grow through the addition of further surpluses, the profits from the full sale of Telstra and the proceeds of its own earnings.

Mr Beazley announced his plans to use the fund to pay for infrastructure spending in his budget reply speech, a few days after the budget was handed down, saying public service superannuation payments were already being easily handled within the annual budget.

However, yesterday was the first time he said he wanted the fund to cover major ongoing projects such as the Pacific Highway.

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