Jul 21, 2014

Abbott would not have built Gold Coast light rail

Labor welcomes the successful weekend opening of the Gold Coast’s new light rail system but notes that under Tony Abbott’s approach, it would never have been built.

The former Labor federal Government contributed $365 million toward the $1.2 billion project in partnership with the Queensland Government and Gold Coast City Council to boost the Gold Coast’s economic productivity by reducing traffic congestion and facilitating easier movement for tourists and residents.

The visionary project underlines Labor’s view that any Commonwealth government that is serious about economic productivity must invest in public transport in the nation’s cities.

However, Mr Abbott refuses to invest a single dollar in public transport.

Since taking office, he has dumped billions of dollars of investment Labor had allocated to public transport projects around the nation, including Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project, the Melbourne Metro, Adelaide’s Tonsley Park project and a rail link between Perth’s CBD and airport.

The only Commonwealth investment in public transport Mr Abbott maintained involved projects which, like the Gold Coast light rail project, had been the subject of commercial contracts.

This short-sighted approach denies our national economy the significant productivity gains to be extracted from reduced traffic congestion.

Australia is one of the most-urbanised nations in the world.

The growth pains being experienced in our cities demand Commonwealth investment in roads as well as urban rail and light rail to improve urban amenity and remove road blocks to economic growth.

Mr Abbott’s hands-off approach will leave states and councils struggling to deliver viable public transport solutions, leading to second-rate alternatives like those now being pursued in place of the Cross-River Rail and Melbourne Metro.