After almost six years of cuts the Morrison Government has finally been forced to allocate new funding for rail and road investment to paper over its previous neglect.
Much of the funding in last night’s Budget is not due to occur until many unspecified years into the future.
As well, much of the infrastructure plan simply copies existing Opposition infrastructure commitments and ideas, proving yet again that Labor has been leading from Opposition.
Projects including Adelaide’s South Road, the Perth METRONET, the Rockhampton and Mackay Ring Roads, Melbourne’s South-East Suburban Road Package and the Western Sydney Rail are all existing Labor commitments.
Projects like Tasmania’s Freight Rail Revitalisation Program and the Gladstone Port Access Road were funded by the former Labor Government, cut by the Coalition and have now been reinstated on the pretence that they are new.
The Coalition’s mimicry even went so far as to include a carbon copy of Labor’s National Park and Ride Fund, which we announced last year to improve commuter access to parking at train stations.
The irony here is that the Coalition’s previous cuts to infrastructure investment, particularly public transport, have exacerbated the traffic congestion crisis that Scott Morrison now claims he wants to fix.
Australians who have been stuck in worsening traffic jams for the past five years will recognise this infrastructure package for what it is – a last-minute re-election con job, rather than a seriously considered vision for nation-building.
The Budget documents also underline Mr Morrison’s addiction to overpromising and under-delivering on infrastructure.
Over the Government’s first five Budgets, the Government has delivered $5.1 billion less for infrastructure than it has announced – a shortfall of 14 per cent.
If Mr Morrison’s record is anything to go by, he will fail to deliver last night’s promises.
Mr Morrison has also resorted to double counting to pad his Budget investment figures by claiming “contingency reserve’’ funding for projects including the East-West Link in Melbourne and the Perth Freight Link.
Both of these dud projects have been abandoned, yet the Government pretends funding will one day be allocated to them.
The Budget came on the same day the Government completed its disgraceful politicisation of the once-independent Infrastructure Australia by appointing a new board member who made political comments on his first day in the job.
WEDNESDAY, 3 APRIL, 2019