The Turnbull Government has exposed its own failure to boost public transport by releasing a list of investments under its watch that is dominated by projects of the former Labor Government.
Already eight months into its second term, the Coalition has yet to commence a single new major public transport project anywhere in Australia, despite Malcolm Turnbull feigning interest in public transport with his frequent selfies riding on trains.
Responding to questions raised at Senate Estimates committee hearings, the Government has tabled a list of public transport projects* that includes the long-completed Regional Rail Network in Victoria and Brisbane’s Moreton Bay Rail Link.
These projects were commenced by the former Labor Government, which delivered more public transport investment than all previous Commonwealth governments combined since Federation.
The Coalition’s list also includes funding for the second stage of the Gold Coast Light Rail project. But this funding is not new, having been sourced from savings associated with the Moreton Bay project.
The list also includes research into Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project and light rail for Perth.
Cross River Rail was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, funded by Labor in its 2013 Budget but cancelled by the incoming Coalition Government in 2014.
It should be under construction now.
Similarly, the Coalition cancelled the former Labor Government’s $500 million allocation for public transport in Perth in 2013 and transferred the money to the proposed Perth Freight Link, a dud toll road through an environmentally sensitive wetland that will not even deliver on its stated aim of taking trucks to the Fremantle Port.
Its $490 million allocation to a rail link to the Perth Airport was in fact a GST compensation payment booked to the project despite the fact that it is being funded in full by the WA Government.
The remainder of the Coalition’s list of projects includes Commonwealth contributions to state government projects using its failed and now abandoned Asset Recycling Initiative.
This funding is not new either. It was itself recycled using funding the Coalition cut from public transport projects in 2014.
Traffic congestion is a hand brake on productivity growth. Infrastructure Australia has warned that without action now, it will cost the national economy $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031.
This problem requires new investment now, yet the Government is cutting investment and pretending otherwise.
Malcolm Turnbull likes taking selfies on public transport. It is time he started to fund public transport in the national interest.
http://bit.ly/2jWcJXa – Question 71
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.