May 18, 2015

Transcript of press conference – Springvale Railway Station, Melbourne

Subjects: Budget 2015, Tony Abbott’s refusal to invest in public transport; urban congestion; Melbourne Metro; East-West Link; Infrastructure Australia.  

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m delighted to be here with Clare O’Neil, Labor’s Member for Hotham, and Sean O’Reilly, the Mayor of the Dandenong Council. I came here to Springvale Railway Station a number of times looking at this vital project, which deals effectively with urban congestion. Here in Melbourne, the removal of level crossings makes an enormous difference to the time it takes people to get to and from work, and it’s also of course a major road safety issue.

The removal of this particular level crossing benefits 28,000 commuters every single day. It was a $140 million investment joint from the federal and state former Labor Governments. It was part of the contribution that we made to Victorian infrastructure which included here in Melbourne, the M80 road project, the Regional Rail Link project and important projects like this one which we are visiting today.

In Melbourne’s east we’d allocated some $69 million for the Managed Motorways program on the Monash Freeway. Now that had a cost-benefit ratio of more than $5 benefit for every dollar that was invested. That compared with the East-West Link that was 45 cents benefit for every dollar invested.

And yet what the Abbott Government did was take money that was allocated for the Melbourne Metro project that will benefit the whole of Melbourne and Victoria, take money from the M80 project, take money from the Managed Motorways project and put less money than had already been allocated towards the East-West Link.

But in last week’s Budget, we had that money taken away from Victorians and nothing put back.

The Budget shows that Victorians will get just 8% of every infrastructure dollar that is spent by the Commonwealth, even though they have 25% of the population. It’s extraordinary that Tony Abbott thinks it’s okay to punish the people of Melbourne and Victoria for the fact that they voted Labor at the last state election.

This is an absurd policy. It’s one that should be reversed and it is unsustainable. Tony Abbott is driven by politics and what we saw in last Thursday night’s Budget Reply from Bill Shorten is that we would prioritise Infrastructure Australia recommended investment, just like we did when we were in government last time.

That means that the dollar goes to the area that has the most benefit, and what we know is that Victorians need that investment in projects like the removal of level crossings, in the M80 project where funding was withdrawn, in the Melbourne Metro project and in other rail and road projects here in Melbourne.

SEAN O’REILLY, MAYOR CITY OF GREATER DANDENONG: As the Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, my name is Sean O’Reilly I am thankful for the opportunity to be here with Anthony Albanese and our local MP Clare O’Neil, the Member for Hotham.

We’re going to be discussing the infrastructure priorities of the City of Greater Dandenong. These are not just contained within our municipal borders but more broadly the south-east, and with Melbourne being the fastest growing city in Australia, with the council having sensible medium to high growth housing demand and Council looking to meet that, we want to talk with Mr Albanese and Ms O’Neil about how we can best manage that with assistance from the Federal Government.

CLARE O’NEIL: Thanks everyone for being here. We’re standing today in front of Springvale Railway Station, a $140 million project that was completed last year and funded in part by the former federal Labor Government.

I’d say very simply that the thousands of people who live and work in my electorate of Hotham benefitted from this terrific project and it is testament to Labor’s commitment to investing in better cities, investing in public transport and importantly, investing in the infrastructure that Victorians actually want and need.

We saw last week Tony Abbott come to Victoria to have a big old complain about why the Victorian State Government won’t proceed with a road that returns just 45 cents in every dollar. Labor announced last week that it wants to make really significant reforms to take the politics out of infrastructure decisions and we’re very pleased to see that here in Melbourne’s south-east.