Mar 28, 2014

Hockey must explain his rail cuts to States

When Joe Hockey meets state treasurers today to bully them about spending more on infrastructure, he should explain why he plans to slash billions of dollars in Commonwealth spending on urban passenger rail projects.

Mr Hockey has talked big for months about the importance of infrastructure investment to boost national productivity and create jobs and will today meet treasurers to demand they sell off state assets to raise money for more investment in roads, railways and other infrastructure.

But he should explain how he justifies withdrawing billions of dollars in infrastructure investment already allocated in the Budget to build public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail, the Adelaide’s Tonsley Park Project and urban rail projects in Perth.

While the previous Labor Government funded these projects, the Abbott Government has made clear it is ideologically opposed to investing in urban rail and will strip the money out of the Budget.

Our major cities are plagued by traffic congestion, which acts as a hand brake on economic productivity and therefore inhibits job creation.

Given Mr Hockey’s failure to understand the link between public transport and productivity growth, he’s the last person who should be lecturing state treasurers.

Mr Hockey is demanding states spend more so he can spend less.