Turnbull prolongs Abbott roads-only agenda

PTUA slams neglect of public transport in $1.5 billion funds reallocation

The reallocation of $1.5 billion of Federal transport funding to Victorian projects is just a continuation of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ‘roads only’ agenda, the Public Transport Users Association said today.

“Virtually all of this money is going to roads, and the majority to urban freeways that transport experts warn us are congestion factories,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton.

A small $220 million allocation to the Murray Basin Rail Project, and a token $10 million trickle of funds for planning work on the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, are the only rail projects identified in the Federal concession. “Yet even Tony Abbott was open to funding regional freight rail projects,” Dr Morton said. “With this announcement there has been no practical shift away from Mr Abbott’s policy of turning Los Angeles’ past into Melbourne’s future.”

Traffic on freeway

The pretext given for denying project funding to the Melbourne Metro tunnel is that the project in its current form has not been fully assessed by Infrastructure Australia. “Let’s not forget that when Mr Abbott chucked this $1.5 billion at the East West Link it didn’t even have a business case, let alone consideration by Infrastructure Australia,” said Dr Morton. “In 2013 the Metro tunnel had both $1.5 billion of Federal funding and a top ‘Ready to Proceed’ rating from IA, but Mr Turnbull apparently wants to ignore all that so he has a fig leaf to stick with Mr Abbott’s roads agenda.”

“Mr Turnbull has freed up this money only to avoid embarrassment, and not in any way that advances our transport debate beyond the 1960s,” Dr Morton said. “His government is still guaranteeing to chuck another $3 billion at the East West Link should the zombie be reanimated in future, despite its laughable 0.45 benefit-cost ratio.”

“We are yet to see any policy substance from Canberra that respects the wish of the majority of Australians for better public transport.”