Feb 12, 2014

Melbourne Metro would boost economy

Tony Abbott should immediately invigorate the Victorian economy by reversing his ill-advised decision to cut $3 billion in Commonwealth investment in the Melbourne Metro.

As Victorians seek job-producing investment after news that Toyota will cease producing cars in Australia from 2017, let’s not forget the $3 billion has already been allocated in the existing Commonwealth budget.

This investment, fully funded by the previous Labor Government, is just the kind of economic boost Victoria needs.

And the money is in the budget – right now.

However, Mr Abbott has made clear he intends to rip this money out of the budget, along with allocations for other infrastructure projects across the nation like Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project.

He refuses to invest a cent in urban public transport, insisting the Commonwealth should “stick to its knitting’’ and invest only in roads.

Given the looming job losses in manufacturing in Victoria and across the nation, this is not a time for ideology.

It’s time for Mr Abbott to abandon his stubborn refusal to invest in urban rail and accept his responsibility to provide national leadership on infrastructure and economic development.

The Prime Minister’s current position might be popular among small government zealots within the Liberal Party, but it must horrify breadwinners in Melbourne who are about to lose their jobs.

The independent Infrastructure Australia had already backed the Melbourne Metro on the basis of its potential to lift Melbourne’s economic productivity by reducing traffic congestion.

The commonwealth has already invested $40 million in planning for the project.

Mr Abbott should accept Infrastructure Australia’s advice and get on with the job.