May 18, 2015

Abbott’s opposition to public transport will damage Victoria

Tony Abbott must reverse his bizarre opposition to funding public transport projects or risk worsening traffic congestion choking Victoria’s economic and jobs growth.

Today we inspected the Springvale Railway Station in the seat of Hotham, where the former Labor Federal Government partnered with the Victorian Government on a $140 million upgrade to eliminate a level crossing.

The project has reduced traffic congestion, sparked a rejuvenation of the surrounding business areas and made life easier for the 28,000 people who use the station on a daily basis.

Springvale Station provides the perfect example of the productivity gains to be made when the commonwealth invests in public transport.

Tony Abbott has turned his back on such opportunities with his stubborn refusal to invest in public transport and his cancellation of billions of dollars of investment for urban rail allocated by the former Labor Government.

To make things worse, Mr Abbott also has no policies whatsoever aimed at improving the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities.

His short-sighted approach was confirmed in last week’s Budget, the first in living memory not to fund a single new major infrastructure project.

Labor believes in investing in an integrated transport system that includes roads and rail – whichever has the greatest benefit for the economy.

We also believe in taking the advice of the independent experts at Infrastructure Australia, created by the former Labor Government to assess proposed infrastructure projects to advise the government on which represent the best value for money.

Since taking office Mr Abbott has sidelined Infrastructure Australia, investing billions of dollars in new toll roads without seeking its advice and ignoring its recommendation to fund the Melbourne Metro.

Last week’s Budget further isolated Infrastructure Australia, slashing its annual Budget from $15 million to $8.8 billion by 2018-19.

A Labor Government will return Infrastructure Australia to the heart of Government operations and take its advice on which proposed infrastructure projects have the greatest potential to boost productivity.