The Turnbull Government must invest in Perth’s METRONET public transport project in next week’s Budget to tackle the traffic congestion that is acting as a hand brake on the city’s economic and jobs growth.
Having finally accepted the value of investing in infrastructure that lifts national productivity, the Federal Coalition Government should target congestion, which Infrastructure Australia has warned will cost the economy $53 billion a year by 2031 without investment now.
The need for action is particularly acute in Perth, with Infrastructure Australia warning that without additional funding for transport projects the cost of delays in urban transport will blow out from $2 billion in 2011 to $16 billion by 2031.
What’s more, AustRoads’ 2016 report forecasts that Perth will have seven of the ten most congested roads nationally by 2031, including the top four.
In its 2014 Budget the Coalition scrapped a $500 million Commonwealth investment in Perth public transport which had been allocated by the former Labor Federal Government.
It diverted the funding to the Perth Freight Link – a dud toll road which would not even have achieved its stated aim of taking trucks to the Port of Fremantle.
With Treasurer Scott Morrison now foreshadowing increased infrastructure investment after nearly four years of cuts and inaction, it is critical that he invest in passenger rail in Perth and around the nation.
Investing in the Perth METRONET would also meet the will of the people, with WA’s McGowan Labor Government elected in a landslide in the March state election after having campaigned on delivering the project.
Traffic congestion limits jobs growth.
It also means Perth residents spend too long driving to and from work when they could be at home with their families.
While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull enjoys taking selfies on trains, trams and buses it is time he matches his rhetoric with action and invested in trains, trams and buses.
He should start next Tuesday by providing funds for the Perth METRONET.