Incoming Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has refused to explain why he will cut infrastructure grants to South Australia to only 2 per cent of the national budget over coming years, despite the state being home to 7 per cent of Australians.
Asked to explain this extraordinary reduction in Question Time today, Mr McCormack claimed he was investing “considerable amounts of money’’ in the state.
Mr McCormack, the Coalition’s third Infrastructure Minister in as many months, is wrong.
The Government’s own Budget papers show Federal infrastructure grants to South Australia will fall from $921 million in 2017-18 to $59 million in 2020-21.
They also show that in its first four Budgets (2014-15 to 2017-17), the Coalition Government’s actual investment in South Australian infrastructure was $377 million less than its budget commitments.
Mr McCormack, who succeeded Barnaby Joyce in the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio this week, is ignorant of the cuts. Rather than admit this, he sought to defend the indefensible.
The new Minister must get across the detail, use his newfound authority to reverse the cuts and provide South Australia with the infrastructure investment it requires and deserves.
He should start by committing Federal funding to the AdeLINK light rail project to address the traffic congestion that is acting as a handbrake on economic growth in South Australia.