Oct 19, 2017

Coalition halves infrastructure investment

New Parliamentary Budget Office figures released today show that under the Turnbull Government Federal grants to the states and territories for road and rail projects expressed as a percentage of GDP will halve over the next four years to 0.2 per cent.

The PBO’s National Fiscal Outlook report says (on page 17):

Commonwealth road and rail infrastructure expenditure is also projected to fall by 0.2 per cent of GDP over the forward estimates period to 0.2 per cent of GDP in 2020–21, reflecting the funding profile for road and rail infrastructure projects included in the 2017–18 Budget.

The figures highlight the gap between the Turnbull Government’s rhetoric on infrastructure and the reality of its cuts and inaction, particularly on public transport.

While Malcolm Turnbull enjoys taking selfies as he rides on trains, he has refused to invest in trains by partnering with states to deliver much-needed rail projects like the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project.

His inaction comes as traffic congestion continues to erode quality of life in Australia’s big cities and act as a hand brake on productivity and economic growth.

Indeed, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has reported traffic congestion cost the nation $16.5 billion in lost productivity in 2015.

The PBO report also notes infrastructure investment by states and territories will peak at 0.9 per cent of GDP in 2018-19, before falling to 0.3 per cent by 2020-21.

Mr Turnbull should be lifting infrastructure investment to support jobs and economic activity in the short to medium term and boost productivity in the long-term.

Instead, he is slashing investment and pretending otherwise.