Jun 5, 2014

Government confirms no new Pacific Highway investment

The Abbott Government has abandoned any new funding for the Pacific Highway upgrade, with the Government today unable to identify a single dollar of new Pacific Highway investment in the 2014-15 Budget.

Every one of the Pacific Highway projects listed in Budget documents was funded by the former Labor Government.

In Parliament today I twice asked Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss to identify any new projects on the Pacific Highway that had not been delivered by previous Labor Budgets.

He was unable to do so.

Labor’s existing Pacific Highway investment program has been supported in the Budget.

Unlike Labor, which provided additional funding in each of our six Budgets from 2008, the Coalition Government has not even added one dollar.

Upgrading this important highway will dramatically improve road safety and boost the economic productivity of communities on the road.

But Mr Truss and his junior ministerial sidekick Jamie Briggs should stop fibbing to Australians about where the money is coming from.

The Government has been desperately re-announcing the former Labor Government’s investment to direct public attention away from the Budget’s broken promises and savage cuts to health and education.

Today, given the opportunity to back their rhetoric with facts, these ministers were struck mute.

This explains why glossy Budget documents include a Pacific Highway work schedule that appeared to have been cut and pasted from last year’s Budget documents.

The truth about the Abbott Government’s infrastructure Budget is that it is made up of old projects funded by Labor as well as billions of dollars in cuts to funding for public transport and existing road projects which are being used to fund a handful of new projects.

However, as Mr Truss confirmed in Parliament this morning, not one of those new projects has been assessed by the independent experts at Infrastructure Australia to determine whether they represent value for money.

This is despite the Government’s unambiguous election promise to subject any new infrastructure project worth more than $100 million to cost-benefit analysis approved by Infrastructure Australia.