Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Thursday announced plans to invest AU$10 billion in infrastructure projects across the country if the Australian Labor Party comes to power in the next elections.

Infrastructure Australia, which guides the government in sorting out the infrastructural needs of the country, will be converted into a government-supported bank according to the plan. It will provide loans, loan guarantees or equities to fund major infrastructure projects, including development of roads and railways.

Labor has shortlisted 10 projects, including upgradation of Melbourne Metro, the Gawler line electrification in Adelaide and the Cross River rail in Brisbane, under the plan.

“We've seen an end to any funding of public transport projects, indeed cuts to projects that we already ready to proceed like the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail in Brisbane; and we've seen absurdities such as arguing that you can have a second Sydney airport in Sydney's west without having a public transport access,” Shadow minister for infrastructure and transport, Anthony Albanese told ABC local radio on Thursday.

“Now the rail line connecting Leppington in the south-west to St Mary's in the west would make sense to create a rail line even if the airport wasn't there. So this is a project worthy of support and what we want to see is a facility that would encourage not just public sector investment, because that won't be enough, but encourage private sector investment and we know that that's possible.”

The projects will be submitted to Infrastructure Australia under a process that will be put into place by the ALP when it comes to power. Shorten is also planning to increase the capacity of Infrastructure Australia so that it can actively take part in the development of the country’s infrastructure.

According to ALP, the plan would encourage private sector investment, and it would only fund projects that have higher chances of delivering returns.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox welcomed the annoucement, saying that the government needs more support and encouragement to bring about infrastructural development in the face of the slow down in the mining sector.

“The Federal Opposition’s proposals on infrastructure financing and Infrastructure Australia provide welcome food for thought and warrant further discussion,” he said today. “It is an important contribution with the potential to improve the value we get from our infrastructure investments and hopefully see more investments made.

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