Jul 22, 2014

Ciobo should apologise for opposing light rail

Gold Coast Federal MP Steven Ciobo should publicly apologise to his constituents for voting against Commonwealth investment in the newly opened Gold Coast light rail project.

While a smiling Mr Ciobo posed for photographs at the weekend’s official opening of the $1.2 billion project, in 2009 he voted against the Commonwealth’s $365 million funding contribution.

The Commonwealth investment was part of the previous Labor Government’s economic stimulus package which shielded Australia from recession in the face of the global financial crisis.

Mr Ciobo and fellow Gold Coast Liberal Stuart Robert should admit they were wrong to oppose the package, which protected 200,000 Australian jobs and also delivered better public transport for their own community.

The Gold Coast Light rail project was delivered via a partnership between the Commonwealth, the Queensland Government and the Gold Coast City Council.

It will significantly boost the Gold Coast’s economic productivity by easing traffic congestion and facilitating easier movement for tourists and residents.

While Mr Ciobo and Mr Robert lacked the vision to support the project when it was first proposed, their folly continues.

They are now denying other Australian cities the benefits of better public transport by endorsing Tony Abbott’s blanket refusal to invest in public transport anywhere else in Australia.

Since his election, Mr Abbott 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.

Labor believes that any Commonwealth government that is serious about economic productivity must invest in public transport in the nation’s cities.

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.