Jul 14, 2015

Abbott rail hang-up leaves Perth commuters hanging

New documents obtained through Freedom of Information laws confirm Tony Abbott’s refusal to invest in any public transport as a key cause of delays in the construction of two much-needed new public transport projects in Perth.

Last week The West Australian published internal correspondence from Premier Barnett’s office confirming that prior to the last election, the West Australian Government was counting on Commonwealth investment.

Don’t expect the feds to play hardball… here we have 2 main projects – light rail and rail to airport. No dispute about either of these.

Email from Premier’s media adviser, 4 March 2013

But upon being elected, Tony Abbott cut $500 million public transport funding that was included in the 2013-14 Budget, allocated by the former Labor Government to progress the Perth Airport Link project and light rail.

Two years later, neither project is certain to go ahead, with only conditional EPA approval granted for the airport link, while West Australian Transport Minister Dean Nalder signalled this week light rail may never happen at all.

Meanwhile, as Coalition State and Federal Governments busy themselves finding excuses as to why public transport is too hard for them, Perth commuters have been forced to sit in traffic for increasingly long parts of their day.

Infrastructure Australia’s latest National Infrastructure Audit found seven of the top 10 roads projected to have the biggest congestion cost in 2031 are in Perth.

The report also found that Perth currently has only 5.5 per cent of its passenger kilometres on rail each day, compared with 15.5 per cent in Melbourne and 12.3 per cent in Sydney.

This is not good enough.

West Australians deserve better than two governments which won’t fight for them or help to address the increasingly long hours they are spending in their cars, travelling from drive-in, drive out suburbs to their jobs and recreational activities.

First rate cities need first rate public transport.

Only a Federal Labor Government will end the blame game and get on with building the public transport that Perth needs.