May 18, 2017

Budget cuts WA infrastructure investment

Western Australia faces a $200 million cut in Commonwealth investment in railways, roads and other infrastructure in the year to June 30.

In the 2016-17 Budget, the Turnbull Government promised it would invest $842 million on WA infrastructure this financial year.

However, last week’s 2017-18 Budget Papers show it will in fact invest $616 million.

The cut is part of a $1.6 billion cut across the nation this year, which includes cuts to the Black Spots program, the Bridges Renewal Program and investment in new and improved roadside facilities for truck drivers such as rest stops.

“Malcolm Turnbull is short-changing WA and pretending otherwise,” said Mr Albanese.

“His reckless cuts have come at the very time the Government should have been increasing infrastructure investment to boost productivity and economic growth.

“Yet the Coalition has wasted four years with its promotion of the now-dumped Perth Freight Link – a dud toll road which would not even have achieved its stated aim of taking traffic to the Port at Fremantle.”

The only good news in the Budget was the Government’s decision to reallocate some of the Perth Freight Link funding to a range of projects including an upgrade to Denny Avenue in Kelmscott which has been consistently ranked as the State’s most dangerous road.

The local community has been pushing for this upgrade for the past 30 years.

Federal Member for Burt Matt Keogh said it was only through the concerted efforts of State and Federal Labor MPs that vital road and rail projects have been kept from the scrap heap.

“Denny Avenue is in the heart of my electorate and I understand just how important fixing this dangerous traffic snarl is to our community. That’s why I’ve called for its funding since before the 2015 Canning by-election,” Mr Keogh said.

“Continuous cuts to WA’s infrastructure projects only prove we have a Prime Minister who simply doesn’t care about WA, is out of touch with what is going on in our State and intent on cutting every dollar from job-creating opportunities this side of the Nullarbor.

“We will continue to fight the exodus of jobs and resources from this State and hold the Turnbull Government accountable for short-changing this State by the billions.”

While the Coalition failed to match the Denny Avenue commitment ahead of the 2016 election – despite what Mr Hastie said in 2015 – it is a good thing that it has finally agreed to release the funding in response to pressure from the new WA McGowan State Government.