Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project would be well under construction now had the incoming Coalition Government not cut the Federal funding in the 2014 Budget.
The Government is now repeating its 2014 mistake by continuing to withhold funding for the project, which Infrastructure Australia described as ready to proceed in 2012. This led Federal Labor to provide funding in our 2013 Budget.
Severe traffic congestion is a hand brake on our nation’s economic growth, with Infrastructure Australia warning the problem will cost the nation $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031 without action now.
In the case of Brisbane, the need for a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD is particularly urgent given the existing Merivale Bridge rail crossing is approaching full capacity.
Failure to address this bottleneck will reduce Brisbane’s economic and jobs growth, with knock-on effects right across Queensland.
But for more than three years, first Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull have stood in the way of this important project.
Initially, Mr Abbott refused to invest in public transport anywhere, dumping billions of planned investment across the nation upon coming to office.
After ousting Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull declared support for public transport, but has since failed to initiate one new major public transport project anywhere in Australia.
Mr Turnbull enjoys taking selfies on trains, but it is time he actually invested in rail.
The Government’s refusal to invest in Cross River Rail continues its ongoing pattern of deception when it comes to infrastructure investment.
Late last year, in his annual infrastructure statement to Parliament, Mr Turnbull told Parliament that he was rolling out a $50 billion infrastructure investment program.
But his own Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has confirmed to Parliament that the program is in fact worth $34 billion.