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Coalition infrastructure spending a ‘mess’

A range of major projects earmarked by the coalition government but not delivered could be scrapped, the infrastructure minister has confirmed.

Catherine King said the government was reviewing infrastructure commitments made by the previous government ahead of the October budget.

She said the audit had revealed a range of projects where funding had not actually been requested.

Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain said the Labor government’s approach to funding regional infrastructure would be vastly different to their predecessors.

“Six projects with no proponent, over $18 million of projects where there’s no actual location for a project,” she said in parliament.

“This is the mess (the coalition) left for us.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said cutting back on wasteful spending would be a focus area in his first budget, which will be handed down on October 25.

“We will begin trimming some of the waste that was a hallmark of the budget handed down by the previous government,” he said.

“This is just the beginning, not the end, of our work to build a better future that Australians deserve.”

Dr Chalmers is also expected to deliver the 2021/22 budget outcome on Wednesday, which will reveal the present state of the government’s finances.

There have also been mounting calls to lift welfare payments in the upcoming budget, with the Australian Council of Social Service and the independent Senator David Pocock calling for JobSeeker to be lifted to at least $73 a day.

A report released by the ACOSS on Tuesday revealed almost two-thirds of surveyed welfare recipients were skipping meals and experiencing difficulty in accessing medication because they could not afford it given rising inflation.

ACOSS spokeswoman Charmaine Crowe said the current JobSeeker rate of $48 per day wasn’t enough, with $73 the “bare minimum” to keep people out of poverty.

“It’s incumbent on the federal government to address this issue as soon as possible, they must address it in the October budget,” she said.

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