Local Infrastructure CommitmentsSpeech
During the May election, some fanciful promises were made by the government in the seat of Corangamite. One promise was $2 billion for a fast train between Melbourne and Geelong. The billboard screamed 'Fast rail delivered'. Fast rail is a great idea and is needed, but voters saw through the hollow promise the Prime Minister made. The Commonwealth contribution to the much shorter Melbourne Airport link is $5 billion, and the estimated total cost of that project is $10 billion to $13 billion. So it's pretty clear that $2 billion for a much longer line isn't going to deliver terribly much. A fast train would require a totally new corridor and a totally new line. Where is the money for that acquisition coming from? Between Geelong and Melbourne, there are at least 30 level crossings that would have to be removed for fast rail to be built. Unlike the Morrison government, the Andrews' government has plenty of experience at removing level crossings. At an average of $100 million each, there goes at least $3 billion. And, at roughly $60 million a kilometre to build the rail line, you can add another $4 billion to the bill. The total cost is probably nearer $12 billion. A private engineering consortium recently quoted $16 billion. And of course this promised $2 billion is counted in the government's much-vaunted infrastructure spend of $100 billion over 10 years.
When our opponents tell us what an amazing job they are doing on infrastructure, voters should be aware that the totals are padded out with projects like the Geelong fast rail—projects that will never see the light of day under this government. And, of course, federal governments don't actually build anything. State governments build the infrastructure, and I'm told that, in making this commitment to fast rail, there wasn't even a whisper—not a word—to the Andrews government. The Andrews Labor government has probably been the best nation-building government this country has ever seen, but their dance card is pretty full for the next few years. With a $107 billion infrastructure pipeline over 10 years, Victoria has a bigger infrastructure spend than the Commonwealth. The Morrison government knew that, if they had consulted, the truth would have been exposed. The truth is that $2 billion wasn't even going to get rid of the level crossings, let alone preserve the corridor, build a fast train line and put new train sets on those tracks. Like most promises made by this government, it was a con job from start to finish.Share Tweet