Oct 2, 2015

Time for commonsense on Melbourne Metro

Malcolm Turnbull should put his claimed dedication to public transport into practice by moving quickly to partner with the Victorian Government to fund the much needed Melbourne Metro project.

During his recent campaign to oust Tony Abbott from the prime ministership, Mr Turnbull frequently tweeted pictures of himself riding trains, trams and buses to appear like a man of the people.

Having successfully knifed Mr Abbott to become Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull should stop playing on social media and actually fund public transport to boost the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities.

He can start by talking to Premier Daniel Andrews about partnering to build the Melbourne Metro, which has already been the subject of extensive planning work, funded with $40 million in the 2009 Budget. It has been endorsed by Infrastructure Australia.

Mr Abbott cancelled $3 billion of funding for the project included in the 2013 Labor government Budget.

Instead, he allocated funds to the discredited East-West Link, which would produce only 45 cents in public benefit for every dollar invested.

The real test of Mr Turnbull’s credentials on public transport is not his social media profile on the issue, but his willingness to invest in public transport, as the former Labor Government did when delivering Victoria’s Regional Rail Link – the biggest commonwealth investment in public transport in history.

A recent Infrastructure Australia study warned that without action, traffic congestion would cost Australia $53 billion a year by 2031.

And figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday confirmed infrastructure investment has declined by 20.1 per cent since the Coalition took office.

It is time for the government to make up for its two years of inaction on public transport and infrastructure and work with the Victorian Labor Government to deliver this important project.