Copycat Kev stole our ideas: Opposition
Almost every project in the infrastructure “announcement” by the Prime Minister had previously been committed to or funded by the Coalition, the Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Transport Minister, Warren Truss, said, calling the announcement a “cut-and-paste of Coalition’s road and rail spending.”
The alleged early start on these projects does not make up for 13 months of dithering by Rudd Labor over road and rail funding. In-fighting between the Federal, New South Wales and Victorian governments has paralysed this process, and the Infrastructure Australia priority list now will not be released until 2009.
“Every dollar spent on quality infrastructure is welcome, but there’s nothing special about this announcement,” Mr Truss said. “The Federal Government is still scheduled to spend less between now and 2014 than what was committed to land transport by the Coalition.
“I wonder why the Prime Minister did not release the list of projects which have been delayed during his time in Government? I can name just two of them: the F3 to Branxton road link in the Hunter Valley and much-needed upgrade of the Bruce Highway north of Brisbane. Both these – and no doubt many others – have been delayed or scrapped by Labor.
“Mr Rudd has moved to bail out his mates in New South Wales, which deferred funding for the critical Sexton Hill upgrade of the Pacific Highway near the Queensland border in last month’s state mini-budget. The Federal Government is presumably now paying for all of it.
“The ‘new’ funding of $1.2 billion for the Australian Rail Track Corporation is actually less than the $1.5 billion committed to by the Coalition. We went to the election with that policy; Labor did not. It has taken Mr Rudd and his Transport Minister Anthony Albanese 13 months to realise their mistake and partially correct it.
“Mr Rudd today claimed that his $1.2 billion spending on rail is more than the Coalition spent in 12 years in Government. This is grossly incorrect – the Coalition spent nearly $3 billion, including large amounts on the Hunter Valley rail system and completing the Adelaide to Darwin railway.
“Incredibly, Labor is now ‘bringing forward’ $91.5 million for the Cootamundra to Parkes rail track upgrade by two years. In February, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner put a two year hold on the Coalition’s plan to spend $65 million on the very same stretch of rail. This is incompetence of the highest order. This is a Government making it up as it goes along.
“I do welcome the extra funding for road Black Spots – a program previously scrapped by Labor.
“The reality is that the Rudd Government still has not started building any new road and rail projects that had not already been committed to by the Coalition. In many cases, the planning and preliminary work had already been done, with just the button to start work needing to be pressed.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is just such a shame for Australia that Mr Rudd and his team have taken so long to realise that the Coalition had it right on infrastructure spending,” Mr Truss said.
Mr Truss didn’t elaborate on why the Coalition allowed the railways to fall into such a dismal state in the first place, however.