Feb 20, 2014

Abbott must explain Perth public transport cuts

THE fresh Senate election in Western Australia will give Tony Abbott the opportunity to explain to Perth residents his bizarre refusal to act on traffic congestion in their growing city.

Since taking office Mr Abbott has insisted he will not invest in urban rail services to improve public transport because he believes it is a matter for state governments.

The Prime Minister has used this ideologically rigid position to justify cutting $500 million in funding in the existing Budget, allocated by Labor, to develop public transport in Perth through the Perth Airport Link project and possible light rail.

WA Treasurer Troy Buswell has made clear his government cannot invest in these projects without a contribution from Canberra.

So unless Mr Abbott comes to the party, as Labor is prepared to, there will be no improvements to public transport in Perth.

When Mr Abbott campaigns in WA for the upcoming Senate election re-run, he should tell WA voters why he is not prepared to tackle traffic congestion in their community.

Traffic congestion is a nuisance for commuters and a hand brake on growth in economic productivity and jobs.

Under Mr Abbott, commuters will spend more time commuting in their cars – time they could better spend with their families.

Mr Abbott might be content to play the blame game with state governments, but voters expect leadership, not buck-passing.