Nationals MP Michael McCormack has refused to stand up for the proposed high-speed-rail project, strongly endorsing a $52 million cut to the project despite potential benefits it would provide for his electorate of Riverina.
In last month’s Federal Budget, Tony Abbott scrapped a $52 million funding allocation to allow for the establishment of a planning authority for the ambitious project, which would link Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.
The money would also have been used to begin to secure the corridor for the line to prevent it being built out by urban sprawl.
Mr Abbott’s short-sighted decision is a betrayal of regional communities along the route of the proposed line including Wagga Wagga, which is in the seat of Riverina, as well as the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.
However, speaking in the House of Representatives today, Mr McCormack meekly backed Mr Abbott’s cut, strangely claiming that the provision of $52 million to get the project started was “red tape’’.
Dismissing an actual financial allocation as “red tape’’ to begin to secure the corridor is absurd.
It is not red tape. It is real action.
High-speed rail would boost the economic development of regional centres by providing speedy access to capital cities.
A Government feasibility study into the 1748km line found that for every dollar spent on HSR on the first section between Sydney and Melbourne, the project would return $2.15 in economic benefit to surrounding communities.
Mr McCormack and other Coalition MPs whose communities stand to benefit from high-speed rail should stand up for their constituents.