Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

$500m, but not a buck for rail

Kwinana Freeway. Photo: Creative Commons / Arno Kohlem

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has responded to WA’s calls for an increased share of GST revenue, awarding the state with $499 million in infrastructure funding. But none of it’s for rail.

Abbott, in a joint statement with deputy PM Warren Truss and federal finance minister Mathias Cormann, said a $499 million commitment would be made in the upcoming 2015/16 federal Budget, for WA roads.

“This investment acknowledges the specific circumstances facing Western Australia as a result of their GST revenue shortfall next financial year,” the ministers said in the joint statement.

WA, which already believes it gets an unfair share of GST funding, will receive even less of a percentage starting July 1.

This, coupled with a sinking iron ore price which is set to reduce the state’s royalties and tax earnings, led to a recent appeal by the state to get more federal funding.

“As foreshadowed at the recent meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, WA is facing particular challenges at present and we are committed to ensuring it can continue to build the infrastructure of the future to boost jobs and growth,” the federal ministers reported on Wednesday.

“Our investment will help the people of Western Australia continue to foster the wealth, strength and dynamism upon which our country critically depends.”

The $499 infrastructure injection will contribute to a range of projects, including the Mitchell and Kwinana Freeways, NorthLink WA, the Reid Highway, the Road Highway, and a number of other road projects.

But true to form, the federal government has not committed any funding to rail projects in the state.

Federal shadow minister for transport and infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, was quick to criticise the funding, tweeting:

But this is not a surprising move from the Abbott Government, which is committed to funding only roads, and interstate rail projects, leaving the states to fund urban and state-wide rail infrastructure.

“This investment will support vital infrastructure projects aimed at reducing congestion so people can spend less time in traffic and more time at home with their families,” the three federal ministers explained.

“This commitment to Western Australia is an important part of building a stronger and more prosperous Australia.”