Subjects: SA public transport announcement; Coalition infrastructure cuts.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Federal Opposition says there is no new money in the Prime Minister’s public transport announcement that he’ll be making in Adelaide this morning.
Labor’s infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese has told political correspondent Louise Yaxley it is part of a Coalition plan to defend the seat of Boothby, where Liberal MP Andrew Southcott is retiring.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is money that has been taken from stopping the Goodwood to Torrens Junction upgrade that was recommended by Infrastructure Australia that is underway.
It’s also from the Tonsley Park public transport project where Labor allocated $31.5 million when we were in government. The incoming government cut that program as part of their anti-public transport program where they cut all projects that weren’t already underway.
So there’s no new money here. This is simply a reallocation.
What public transport needs is additional funding and you don’t take money from projects that have been approved by Infrastructure Australia in order to support projects that haven’t been through any assessment process.
YAXLEY: So are you saying it shouldn’t happen?
ALBANESE: We’re for extending the rail lines of Adelaide and around the country. That’s why we funded the Noarlunga to Seaford rail line but what we need is additional funding not changing funding from safe seats in a marginal seat during an election campaign.
If the Prime Minister is serious about working on cities, then projects like the Goodwood to Torrens rail freight project that was assessed as having an extremely positive benefit-cost ratio by Infrastructure Australia, and that will make a huge difference to productivity and to jobs in South Australia, shouldn’t be cut.
It should be completed in full and he should find additional money for public transport projects in South Australia.
YAXLEY: But you’re arguing that a freight project is not as attractive to voters as a public transport one and this is an area where votes are at stake, a seat is at stake.
ALBANESE: Well, quite clearly, that’s the assessment that the Government has made and it’s important that infrastructure be funded on the basis of productivity and benefit to the community, not on the basis of electoral prospects.
What you shouldn’t do is stop a very good project, the Goodwood to Torrens project in order to fund this project.
They should find additional funding and shouldn’t pretend that somehow this is additional money for South Australia because it is not.
YAXLEY: And you’re saying that it’s being done in order to defend the seat of Boothby for the Liberals?
ALBANESE: Well, quite clearly they’ve had a look at their electoral prospects in Boothby. You have a retiring member and frankly the Government’s record in terms of funding public transport was to cut the Tonsley Park project that is a precondition for this extension going ahead.
The very government that cut that funding in 2014 is now trying to pretend that it’s a supporter of public transport.
BRISSENDEN: Labor’s infrastructure spokesman, Anthony Albanese speaking to Louise Yaxley.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.