Feb 27, 2017

Inland rail falls behind schedule

The Turnbull Government has not even finalised the proposed route for their Inland Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne despite having promised to have commenced construction by August of last year.

In its 2013 election campaign, the Coalition vowed it would begin construction of this critical freight line through Australia’s eastern states by August, 2016.

But at Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra today, Australian Rail Track Corporation CEO John Fullerton, whose organisation is delivering the project, said no land had been acquired and the alignment had not been finalised.

This is yet another example of the Turnbull Government’s inability to achieve progress on major infrastructure projects.

The former Labor Government invested $600 million on existing railway lines that will form a part of Inland Rail and left a further $300 million in the Budget to take the project forward.

Four years later, not an additional sleeper has been laid.

That is despite the Government campaigning on delivering this project in the 2013 election and again in last year’s federal poll.

This is not good enough.

At a time of transition away from the investment stage of the mining boom, the Government should be increasing investment to maintain economic activity and jobs growth in the short term and to boost national economic productivity over the long term.

But infrastructure investment has tumbled since 2013, with total public sector infrastructure investment down 20 per cent in the Coalition’s first two years in office.

Bureau of Statistics data released last month show the value of work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Coalition Government than in any of the 21 quarters under the Labor Government after its first Budget in 2008.

It’s time for the Turnbull Government to stop talking about Inland Rail and start delivering on its election commitments.