Infrastructure: merit vs. votes

The Federal Government has released Infrastructure Australia‘s “Prioritisation Methodology” and guidelines for the evaluation of infrastructure proposals just as The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a high-level meeting to allocate funds where there are “federal Labor votes in it”.

According to the government’s release, “the guidelines outline the evidence-based approach that will be taken to select the transport, water, energy and communication projects that Australia needs.

“All proposals will be assessed against their ability to:

•         lift national productivity,

•         strengthen Australia’s international competitiveness,

•         develop our cities and regions,

•         reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

•         and improve the quality of life of Australians.”

But the Herald reports that “the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, told a meeting in February involving the former premier, Morris Iemma, and senior state bureaucrats that they were not interested in the rail project because Labor had no marginal seats in the area it would service, senior NSW sources said.”

The Herald’s revelations fly in the face of continuing assurances given by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese that the funds will be allocated based on merit, and not used as a federal Labor “slush fund”, as the Opposition has charged.

The NSW Government’s priority list contains a large number of road projects, with only the West Metro ($10 billion) focusing on public transport and the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor ($3.1 billion) having direct and significant impact on freight movement around the state.

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