Given Tony Abbott’s extraordinary claim yesterday that the Federal Government has no role to play in fixing the passenger rail infrastructure in our nation’s cities it’s little wonder he goes out of his way to avoid scrutiny, particularly by senior journalists.
Clearly he’s worried that when put on the spot he will tell Australians what he really thinks, as witnessed yesterday when he stated:
“Now the Commonwealth Government has a long history of funding roads. We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it’s important that we stick to our knitting, and the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.”
DOORSTOP (FRANKSTON) – 4 APRIL 2013
But let’s not forget these comments come from the same man who has previously declared:
“Transport infrastructure is a state responsibility. The Commonwealth Government should no more have to fund … [it] than the State Government should have to buy new tanks for the army.”
Mr Abbott and the Federal Coalition simply believe that urban congestion is someone else’s problem to fix. Worst still, their unbalanced, ‘roads-only’ approach would actually lead to more gridlock, worsening congestion and a poorer quality of life in our cities.
The attitude towards public transport is one of the great divides in Australian politics.
Federal Labor has a plan to keep our cities moving, one that involves investing in both their road AND rail infrastructure. That’s why we’ve doubled the roads budget and committed more to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined.
Mr Abbott also claimed yesterday he would focus on the Interstate Rail Network. While I welcome his belated interest in freight rail, the fact is this Labor Government has already done the heavy lifting.
Over the last five years, we have been rebuilding more than a third of the Interstate Rail Freight Network, delivering some 4,000 kilometres of new and upgraded track. As a result travel times from Perth to the east coast will be cut by nine hours and between Melbourne and Brisbane by seven hours.
When it comes to either urban or freight rail, only Federal Labor means what it says and does what it promises.
NATION BUILDING PROGRAM: PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Federal Labor has already committed more to public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined:
- MELBOURNE: Regional Rail Link ($3.225 billion; underway) – a new 47.5 kilometre line running from Southern Cross Station through the western suburbs of Melbourne and meeting the Geelong Line at West Werribee.
- MELBOURNE: Melbourne Metro – $40 million towards planning, design and engineering works for a new eight kilometre, two track rail tunnel under Melbourne’s CBD to relieve congested rail lines and improve travel times.
- ADELAIDE: Gawler Rail Line Modernisation ($293 million; partially completed) – the upgrade and electrification of some 43 kilometres of existing track, and construction of 2 new stations at Munno Para and Elizabeth.
- ADELAIDE: Noarlunga to Seaford Rail Extension ($291 million; completed) – a 5.7 kilometre extension from Noarlunga Centre Railway Station to the Seaford District Centre, including new stations at Seaford Meadows and the Seaford District Centre.
- ADELAIDE: Goodwood and Torrens Junctions grade separation ($232.1 million; underway) – untangling the passenger and interstate freight lines at Goodwood and Torrens.
- GOLD COAST: Rapid Transit ($365 million; underway) – a 13 kilometre light rail network connecting Griffith University at Southport to Broadbeach which is scheduled to be built by 2014. The first ever Federal investment in light rail.
- PERTH: City Link ($236 million; underway) – sinking of the existing rail line through the CBD, reuniting the retail district with the Northbridge entertainment precinct and paving the way for up to $3 billion worth of private investment in new residential and commercial developments.
- BRISBANE: Moreton Bay Rail Link ($742 million; underway) – a new 12.6 kilometre line connecting the Redcliffe Peninsula to the existing network at Petrie Station, a project proposed more than a century ago in 1895.
- BRISBANE: CrossRiver Rail – $20 million towards a detailed feasibility and planning study to help determine the optimal route and develop a business case for a new rail tunnel through inner city Brisbane.
- SYDNEY: Parramatta to Epping Rail Link ($2.1 billion) – a new 14 kilometres line connecting Parramatta with jobs in Macquarie Park, North Ryde, and Chatswood.
- SYDNEY: Northern Sydney Freight Line ($840 million; underway) – untangling the passenger and freight lines by building a rail underpass at North Strathfield, laying a third track between Epping and Thornleigh, installing new passing loops near Gosford and a holding track at Hexham.
- SYDNEY: South Sydney Freight Line ($1 billion; completed) – a new 36 kilometre dedicated Southern Sydney Freight Line, separating passenger and freight lines through Sydney’s southern suburbs.