Infrastructure Australia’s call for increased Government investment in public transport has highlighted the folly of the Turnbull Government’s failure to invest in mass transit at a time of intensifying growth of Australian cities.
Infrastructure Australia’s Future Cities report, released today, warns: “Investment in mass transit is crucial to reducing congestion, increasing accessibility and reducing the rate of emissions growth.’’
The report comes just a day after an International Monetary Fund report called on Australia to lift its infrastructure investment, noting it had over-invested on roads at the expense of railways, ports and airports.
As soon as the Federal Coalition Government took office it refused to work with states to invest in public transport and withdrew funding for all urban rail projects except those that were already under construction.
Since then, the Coalition has refused to back critical public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, the Western Sydney Rail and the AdeLINK light rail project in Adelaide.
After nearly five years of drift under the Coalition, it is time for a policy shift to tackle the traffic congestion that is acting as a handbrake on economic growth and eroding the quality of life of the four out of five Australians who live in cities.
Australians who live in drive-in, drive-out suburbs with no access to public transport spend hours a day commuting on increasingly congested roads.
Indeed, it is a tragedy that many Australian parents spend more time in their cars commuting than they spend at home playing with their children.
The former Federal Labor Government invested more on public transport than all previous commonwealth governments combined since Federation.
We also created the Major Cities Unit and the annual State of Australian Cities Report and produced a comprehensive urban policy Our Cities, Our Future to drive policy to improve the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities.
Both the Major Cities Unit and the State of Australian Cities Report were abolished by the Coalition.
The next Federal Labor Government will re-engage with cities policy and start by re-establishing the Major Cities Unit within Infrastructure Australia.
We will work with States, councils and the planning sector to meet the growth pressures facing urban Australia and provide the investment required to bring our public transport system into the 21st century.
FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY, 2018