May 14, 2014

Abbott’s great infrastructure mirage

Tony Abbott’s feigned interest in infrastructure investment has been exposed as a mirage, with last night’s Budget not providing no new money despite the Government’s over-inflated hype.

While the Government last night claimed to have delivered an infrastructure package, all but two of the dozens of projects claimed were funded in previous Labor budgets. Many are already under construction.

What’s more, Mr Abbott will fund his paltry handful of initiatives by slashing public transport funding and road funding grants to councils and slugging every motorist in the country with a $2.2 billion petrol tax.

Since coming to Government these cuts and increases amount to over $12 billion – more than enough to pay for the pitiful number of new road projects announced last night.

Mr Abbott’s infrastructure package, hyped for so long to create the impression of activity, does not involve a single new dollar of investment.

It is a mirage – as real as Mr Abbott’s pre-election promise that he would not cut pensions or increase taxes.

Last year Labor delivered $20 billion in funding new projects without resorting to cutting existing investments or lifting taxes.

Last night’s effort by Mr Abbott was an exercise in political spin designed to divert public attention away from the Government’s savage spending cuts to health, education and pensions.

The Budget includes only two projects that were not funded by the former Labor Government: Melbourne’s East-West road sand a new Toowoomba Range Crossing.

It also delivered funding for Sydney’s Westconnex project, to which Labor committed $1.8 billion last year.

However, none of these projects has been the subject of a cost-benefit analysis despite Mr Abbott’s unambiguous election promise to subject any project worth more than $100 million to an extensive cost-benefit analysis.