Malcolm Turnbull must use next week’s Budget to match his rhetoric on public transport with actual investment in Brisbane’s much-needed Cross River Rail project.
Since he ousted Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister more than 18 months ago, the Prime Minister has sought to portray himself as a public transport enthusiast by staging frequent media stunts aboard trains, trams and buses.
Tuesday’s Budget is his chance to not just take selfies aboard trains, but to actually invest in Cross River Rail to alleviate the traffic congestion that threatens continued economic growth in Queensland.
The existing Merivale Bridge across the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD is approaching full capacity.
Without a second rail crossing, Brisbane’s economic growth will be reduced, along with its capacity to create jobs for the future.
Infrastructure Australia approved Cross River Rail in 2012. It was funded by the former Labor Government in 2013 under an arrangement that included elements of value capture.
But Mr Turnbull has stalled on committing investment and is now continuing to stall by creating a new Infrastructure Financing Unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet which will sideline the independent Infrastructure Australia as well as the existing Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
None of this is necessary.
By increasing the capacity of the rail network, Cross River Rail will not only be of benefit to suburban Brisbane, but also to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
The project is ready to go and it is time Mr Turnbull started working with the Queensland State Government to make it a reality.