Anthony Albanese has suggested Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s resistance towards a pair of public transport projects on either side of the country displays his inability to move away from the road-centric views of his predecessor.
Albanese, the federal shadow minister for transport and infrastructure, told reporters in Perth on Tuesday that since replacing the road-obsessed Tony Abbott as PM, Turnbull has yet to provide any real support for public transport.
“Malcolm Turnbull became the prime minister saying he would be different from Tony Abbott … Malcolm Turnbull said that he would fund public transport,” Albanese said.
“All we’ve seen is him taking selfies on trains.”
The shadow minister, who served as transport and infrastructure minister during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, said the Perth Freight Link – a road project in the city’s south – was “clearly a dud”.
“The Perth Freight Link is one of the Coalition Government’s only new projects but is mired in controversy because of its needless damage to sensitive wetland and its lack of proper planning,” he said.
Albanese believes the money for the road would be better spent on the Perth Metronet project, a proposed expansion and upgrade of the city’s rail system.
“Perth is a fast growing city that needs proper investment and a clear transport plan,” he said. “Instead Perth has been lumped with a road that goes part-way to a port that Infrastructure Australia says will be at full capacity within ten years.”
Albanese’s comments came a day after he called on Turnbull to fund Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project.
“In the case of Brisbane, the need for a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD is particularly urgent given the existing Merivale Bridge rail crossing is approaching full capacity,” he said.
“Failure to address this bottleneck will reduce Brisbane’s economic and jobs growth, with knock-on effects right across Queensland.
“But for more than three years, first Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull have stood in the way of this important project. Initially, Mr Abbott refused to invest in public transport anywhere, dumping billions of planned investment across the nation upon coming to office.
“After ousting Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull declared support for public transport, but has since failed to initiate one new major public transport project anywhere in Australia.
“The Government’s refusal to invest in Cross River Rail continues its ongoing pattern of deception when it comes to infrastructure investment.”