Federal Budget commitments to rail projects are a down-payment on the cost of four years of inaction, dithering and ideological stupidity by the Abbott/Turnbull Government.
“If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then we’re flattered that Treasurer Scott Morrison has plagiarised a trade union’s policy recommendations on rail investment.
“The RTBU has campaigned long and hard for the Federal Government to take a leadership role in addressing Australia’s rail and public transport needs.
“The investments made in rail and public transport, however, are just a down-payment on the cost of years of failure.
“More action is needed to deliver actual projects that will address transport congestion, stimulate new housing supply, and boost productivity across the country.”
FUNDING FOR RTBU’S PRIORITY PROJECTS
Mr Nanva said the redirection of existing funding to the Perth MetroNet project was sensible and reflected the will of the Western Australian community.
“MetroNet is an exciting, transformational project for the city of Perth. It has taken an electoral disaster in Western Australian for the Liberals to see past their ideological obsession with roads, but we’re pleased they’ve finally conceded they were wrong.
“Similarly, we’re pleased the Federal Government has reversed its pig-headed opposition to contributing to the upgrade of regional rail in Victoria.
“The funding for Inland Rail has been a long time coming. The industry can now have some confidence that the project will at least go ahead.
“Much more work needs to be done however to get construction work up and running. We also want to see more detail on plans for the Toowoomba to Kagaru section of this project.
“The connection between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane is the most critical part of Inland Rail, and this is where construction should begin.”
INFRASTRUCTURE FUND MUST MOVE QUICKLY
Mr Nanva said the announcement of an additional $10 billion for rail projects and the creation of an Infrastructure Project Financing Agency sounded suspiciously like the RTBU’s proposed $30 billion Australian Commuter Trust – only significantly smaller.
“$10 billion is a solid start, but it falls a long way short of the investment that is actually needed.
“The Federal Government must move quickly to kick-start progress on projects such as Cross River Rail in Brisbane.
“In particular, we want to see Federal investment used to extend the southern portal of the proposed Cross River Rail tunnel from Dutton Park to Yeerongpilly.
“Federal investment is also essential to building the much-needed rail ink to the new Western Sydney Airport – which simply must be in place from day one of the airport’s operation.”
Mr Nanva said the new Infrastructure Project Financing Agency should also drive important reforms in the way projects are funded, with a greater focus on mechanisms such as value capture.
“The public have been taken for a ride for too long when it comes to funding new rail projects.
“When speculators and property developers make windfall profits from land along transport corridors, they should be required to share some of those gains to help pay for the infrastructure they’re capitalising on.”