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Brumby to blame for poor Federal transport priorities

Public transport infrastructure announced for Melbourne in this year’s “nation building” Federal Budget may not deliver any real benefit to passengers – and the Brumby State Government is entirely to blame, says the PTUA.

“All indications are that when it comes to Victorian public transport, Wayne Swan will be ploughing all the available money into the metro rail tunnel,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “But it’s a completely unnecessary project. We have already doubled the capacity of the city’s rail network: we did it in the 1970s, with the City Loop, yet everyone seems to have forgotten. All this new tunnel will do is soak up all the money that should be used to extend rail and bus services into our growing suburbs.”

But it was really the State Government that bore responsibility for this, Mr Bowen said. “We really can’t blame the Feds – they rely on the States to tell them what the priorities are. But the Victorian Government’s submission for Federal funding included not one suburban rail extension, and not one cent for additional public transport services in Melbourne.”

“Premier Brumby and his Ministers have squandered the opportunity to do something for public transport, just when the Federal Government realises it needs to spend on infrastructure to help the economy.”

The real needs of Victoria’s public transport system are outlined in a new PTUA report, Connecting to the Future. “We’re not deluded into thinking you fix the transport system just by flinging money in all directions,” Mr Bowen said. “Nor do we think it’s a great idea to spend $600 million on a rail extension when a different State Government is able to deliver the equivalent project for $80 million. So we’ve proposed our own package of targeted infrastructure, which we estimate will give us a world-beating public transport system for less than half the cost of Brumby’s Transport Plan.”

“The people of Victoria now need to ask themselves, why didn’t Mr Brumby ask the Federal Government for the rail line to Rowville, or Doncaster, or any of the other projects the community has demanded for decades?” Mr Bowen concluded. “It’s as though when there’s real money to be spent, our government wants to ensure it’s put somewhere as ineffective as possible.”

The new report is available from the PTUA website at www.ptua.org.au/publications/connecting/.

Download the PTUA’s submission to the Federal budget (PDF, 256Kb).