Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his sidekick, Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Warren Truss, are truly shameless – having spent the last four years criticised Federal Labor’s approach to building the Inland Rail Link, they have today adopted it lock, stock and barrel.
The Liberals and Nationals have committed exactly the same amount of funding, adopted exactly the same route and signed up to exactly the same construction time-table as first announced by us back in 2010.
In fact they have ditched their earlier promises to have the line up and running by 2020.
And let’s not forget they have form. The former Howard Government, in which Mr Truss served as Transport Minister, had twelve years to build this rail line but instead they chose to do nothing, except establish committees and commission one study after another.
What’s more, today’s extraordinary backflip doesn’t conceal the fact they will rip billions out of rail projects nationwide: Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Melbourne Metro, a light rail network through Perth’s northern suburbs and a new rail line to its airport, and the Tonsley Rail Line Upgrade in Adelaide.
But Tony Abbott’s axe won’t just fall on urban passenger rail.
He’s also refused to commit to a number of freight rail projects such as the next stage in the revitalisation of Tasmania’s rail network – a $119.6 million capital works program which will replace some 290 kilometres of old tracks – as well as the upgrade of the lines into and out Port Botany.
So if you value rail and want to see these projects, as well as the Inland Rail Link built, then you’ve got to vote Labor on 7 September.
Only Federal Labor has a long term plan to get more freight AND people off our roads and onto rail. Already we’ve rebuilt over a third of the Interstate Rail Freight Network and committed more funding to urban public transport than all our predecessors since Federation combined.
Once operational, the new 1,731 kilometre Inland Rail Link via the NSW Central West will cut up to 7 hours off the journey times between Brisbane and Melbourne, take trucks off our highways, ease the growing congestion on the existing coastal line through Sydney and open up new economic opportunities for many inland communities.