The Turnbull Government has underlined its incompetence on nation building by seeking to justify nearly $5 billion worth of cuts to infrastructure investment as “prudent financial management’’.
In a stunning admission ahead of the upcoming Budget, the office of Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has confirmed that over the past four years, the Government has invested $4.9 billion less than it promised in its budgets.
But asked by The Australian newspaper to explain why the investment had not been delivered in line with the commitments, a spokesman for Mr McCormack said the Government’s failure was a matter of “prudent financial management’’.
The Government’s own Budget documents show that in every Budget this Government has handed down, it has failed to actually spend the money it has allocated to railways, roads and other projects.
This extraordinary failure has nothing to do with financial management.
The Government is either deliberately misleading Australians each Budget night by announcing projects it does not intend to deliver, or it is simply too incompetent to administer its investment program.
Railways and roads are not built by promises or media releases. They require actual investment of actual money.
If the Government had delivered the investment it allocated over the past four years, it could have funded hundreds of important infrastructure projects around the nation, including in regional areas.
This would have created jobs and economic activity in the short term and, over the longer term, would have boosted productivity and driven greater economic growth.
Given the Government’s admission, Australians should treat infrastructure investment promises in next month’s Budget with extreme caution.
The track record is clear: whatever investment the Government announces on Budget night or promotes in subsequent taxpayer-funded advertising won’t be delivered as promised.