Labor welcomes Tony Abbott’s decision to backflip and honour $1 billion in regional infrastructure investment allocated by the previous Labor Government.
But the Opposition condemns the Prime Minister for having attempted to renege on the fully funded grants, inflicting months of needless uncertainty on communities across the nation.
Funding for the $1 billion worth of road and other infrastructure investment, flagged by the Government in media reports today, is not new.
All of the projects, including $500 million for upgrades of Western Australia’s Great Northern and North West Coastal highways, road works in South Australia’s APY Lands and the Cape York Regional Fund, were announced by the previous Labor Government .
All were fully funded in the 2013-14 Budget and announced on Budget day or in subsequent weeks.
After taking office, Mr Abbott claimed there was no money for these important projects, even though they were fully funded in the Budget.
Today’s backflip – an admission that funds were available – follows weeks of Labor pressure in Parliament.
While Labor welcomes the spending, let’s not forget that Mr Abbott just attempted to rob regional Australia of $1 billion in infrastructure spending.
These grants were designed to drive economic activity and job creation in regional Australia and they should have been honoured from day one.
But Mr Abbott tried to renege, only to change his mind under political pressure.
The Abbott Government is continuing what is clearly the worst transition from Opposition to Government in history.
It has come to office with no positive plans because it spent its entire period in Opposition being negative.
Now that Mr Abbott has decided to honour these investments, Labor calls on the Prime Minister to honour grants for important urban public transport projects like Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and the Melbourne Metro that were also funded in the Labor Government’s last Budget.