Napthine Government plays Victorian public for fools, says PTUA

‘Rash’ $15 billion promise will rip funds from schools, hospitals and vital transport fixes, says user group

The Public Transport Users Association today slammed Napthine Government plans to commit more billions of dollars to a further extension of its proposed East West Link road project.

“Even the first stage of this road at $8 billion will rip out funding from all public transport improvements for a generation,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “That includes not only the Melbourne Metro tunnel but also the urgent fixes that are needed to get our local roads and public transport back on track, such as renewed train signalling, level crossing grade separations, suburban extensions and overhauling buses.”

“But the full East West project has a price tag of $15 billion. That will not just imperil all other transport funding for decades,” Dr Morton said. “It will also rip funds out of our schools and hospitals. Victoria simply does not have the fiscal capacity to fritter away $15 billion on a vanity project for road builders that experts agree won’t fix traffic congestion. Not when our train system falls over in a heap every week, our kids are falling behind at school, and ambulances are too overstretched to attend emergencies.”

The government claims the link will create jobs, but Dr Morton said they could do better. “Jobs in road-building only last a couple of years at a time, and then you’ve got to find something else for people to do,” he said. “You create just as many jobs building train lines, and you also get more jobs that last longer because you’re also expanding public transport services.”

“In Victoria we’re very good at talking about public transport while we build roads,” said Dr Morton. “This government may talk about how ‘dedicated’ it is to rail projects like Melbourne Metro, but its spending shows otherwise. Not only does it have no intention to do anything about public transport, it wants to ensure future governments won’t have the capacity to do anything either.”

“We believe the Victorian public have been played for fools one time too many, by a government that made promises about public transport, only to turn its back and march straight back to the 1950s,” Dr Morton concluded. “To expect to win votes this way in the 21st century defies belief.”