Last night’s Budget includes no new money for infrastructure, despite the Turnbull Government’s overblown rhetoric in the days leading up to its release.
Every project announced in the Budget will be funded from previous allocations, putting the lie to weeks of pre-budget hyperbole in which the Government pretended it planned to lift investment after years of cuts.
The infrastructure Budget is a triumph of spin over substance.
It does not include one extra dollar of new investment over the Forward Estimates, a fact made clear between pages 137 and 144 in Budget Paper Number 2.
Indeed, Commonwealth infrastructure grants to the states will fall in each of the next four years from the promised $8 billion in 2017-18 to $4.5 billion in 2021-22.
This confirms research by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, which has warned that Commonwealth infrastructure investment over the next decade will fall from 0.4 per cent of GDP to 0.2 per cent.
The Budget documents also highlight Malcolm Turnbull’s extraordinary level of deceit in recent weeks as he attempted to fool Australians about his actual investment intentions.
For example, last month Malcolm Turnbull promised he would invest $5 billion building a train line from Melbourne to the Tullamarine Airport.
In fact, the Budget allocated no money to this project.
Instead, the Government confirmed it wants to fund the project off-budget – a funding method it knows will not work for an urban rail project because it will not provide the required financial return to the Budget.
Similarly, in March Mr Turnbull said he would invest in a Western Sydney Rail line to Badgerys Creeks as part of his Western Sydney City Deal.
But last night’s Budget included no money to build the railway line, just $50 million to prepare a business case.
The Budget documents also showed that in 2017-18, the Government failed to deliver the infrastructure funding it promised in last year’s Budget, continuing its ongoing record of non-delivery.
Over the Coalition’s first four budgets, the difference between the amount the Government promised to invest and what it has actually delivered is $4.7 billion.