Sep 13, 2016

Coalition rips off WA on roads funding

The Turnbull Government has ripped off Western Australia on new transport infrastructure, with only three out of 78 new road and bridge projects announced during the 2016 election campaign located in the West.

By contrast, the Government announced funding for 15 new road and rail projects for Tasmania, meaning the nation’s smallest state will receive funding for five times more road and rail projects than the nation’s largest state.

The Government also skewed investment toward Liberal or National electorates, with 76 of the 78 projects under the Infrastructure Investment Program located in electorates held by the Coalition at the time of the election.

The details are contained in an appendix to the Coalition’s formal election costings document, submitted to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

They confirm Malcolm Turnbull succumbed to crude pork barrelling on infrastructure investment during the election campaign, rather than investing on need or to make our economy more efficient.

The 78 projects, including $1 million to upgrade a billy goat track in the Hunter Valley, in NSW, were mainly small projects of the type normally funded by state or local government.

Commonwealth infrastructure funding should be invested in large rail and road projects that boost productivity and economic growth across large areas.

The former Labor Government invested heavily in WA roads, including the Great Northern Highway (Muchea to Wubin), the Port Hedland Improvements Project, duplication of Dampier Highway, the Esperance Port Access Road, the North West Coastal Highway (Minilya to Barradale) and the Swan Valley Bypass – now known as Northlink.

In this year’s election campaign, Labor proposed to invest in public transport, including the Perth Metronet, as well as roads projects such as overpasses on the Roe Highway and Wanneroo Road.

Our investments were aimed at reducing the traffic congestion that is acting as a hand brake on productivity and jobs growth in our cities.

In contrast, Mr Turnbull allocated no new money to public transport projects during the election campaign.

His 78 small projects were designed to win votes, not to boost the economy.

Australians deserve a fair return on their taxes regardless of where they live or how they vote.

They also deserve a Federal Government that understands that carefully considered infrastructure investment is critical to national economic growth.