Dec 17, 2013

Abbott wipes hands of public transport

Tony Abbott has wiped his hands of addressing traffic congestion in the nation’s cities by scrapping billions of dollars of investment in commonwealth investment in public transport.

The Prime Minister’s irresponsible refusal to back urban rail will further choke the nation’s urban roads and stunt rates of productivity growth and job creation.

This comes on top of his total lack of a cities policy, as shown by his abolition of Labor’s Liveable Cities Program and Major Cities Unit.

The Coalition’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement, released today, shows Mr Abbott will renege on previous Labor commitments to fund a series of visionary public transport projects including:

  • Melbourne Metro;
  • Brisbane Cross River Rail;
  • Hobart Light Rail;
  • Tonsley Park Public Transport Project;
  • Perth Public Transport Package;
  • Gawler Rail Line Electrification;
  • Adelaide Transport Movement Study; and
  • Perth Airport Rail.

All of these public transport projects are aimed at clearing city roads of traffic congestion, which not only frustrates commuters, but is also a brake on productivity and jobs growth because it slows the movement of goods and services.

Australia’s economic health depends on having vibrant cities where people and goods can move freely and where businesses can thrive.

However, the abolition of the Liveable Cities Program will end co-operation between the commonwealth as states and territories on urban design, while scrapping the major cities unit effectively robs the federal bureaucracy of urban planning expertise.

Mr Abbott does not understand the connection between urban policy and prosperity, not to mention the responsibility of government to ensure cities are pleasant places to live.

His only contribution to cities policy is his plan to build more roads.

On Infrastructure Australia’s independent advice, our cities require investment in both road and rail.