Feb 4, 2009

Howard Government slashed road funding in its final year

Howard Government slashed road funding in its final year


The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 4 2009

New official figures reveal that the Howard Government slashed road funding during its last full year in office, despite record tax revenues from the mining boom and worsening traffic congestion within our big cities.

According to data compiled by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), the previous government cut the annual Federal roads budget by 35 per cent from $4.3 billion (2005/06) to $2.8 billion (2006/07).

The research I’ve released today also reveals that while the Howard Government was slashing its roads budget, state and territory governments were significantly increasing theirs. Spending by local government also rose.

Total spending by the states and territories increased 133 per cent to $6.1 billion.

Thanks entirely to the extra funding provided by the states, territories and local councils, total investment in the road network was a record $12 billion in 2006/07.

But this latest revelation about the Howard Government should come as little surprise. Its record was one of too little investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

Over its first eight years in office the previous government spent $2 billion less on roads than the Labor government it replaced – enough money to duplicate the entire Hume Highway.

These facts must be particularly unpleasant for the National Party. After all they held the transport portfolio for the entire duration of the Howard Government.

For its part the new Rudd Labor Government is rolling out the biggest roads program in the history of the Commonwealth, and just two months ago we accelerated work on a further 14 key projects around the country.

All up, our roads budget for the period between now and 2013/14 totals more than $24 billion – double what the previous government spent over a similar period of time.

A full copy of the latest road expenditure data can be found at: www.bitre.gov.au.