Cuts to the federal contribution for the Moreton Bay Rail Link could have been key to the signalling issues which will delay the project’s opening, Anthony Albanese has suggested.
The shadow transport and infrastructure minister has recalled comments he made after the 2014 budget, which reported “savings” which would be recouped by the Commonwealth as major works neared completion.
“That will mean it is an inferior project,” Albanese told a press conference in January 2015.
“You can’t cut that sort of money out without winding the project back. Like winding back sound barriers, like winding back the quality of the infrastructure at the new stations for the project.”
Queensland transport minister Stuart Hinchliffe last week was forced to announce the project would not open in time for its targeted mid-2016 date, after Queensland Rail discovered “significant” issues with the line’s signalling system.
Hinchliffe, who says he was told the project was on track as recently as April, blamed the previous state government’s decision to put the Department of Transport and Main Roads in charge rather than Queensland Rail.
The minister launched a full review into what went wrong last week.
Albanese says voters should look no further than the Federal Liberal Party, who he blames for “skimping” on the flawed project.
“Voters should not forget that when the federal Liberal Government took office it cancelled all Commonwealth investment in public transport projects except those, like the Moreton Bay Rail Link, that were subject to contracts and were under construction,” he said on May 31.
“Instead, the Liberal Government cut $159 million from its contribution to the Moreton Bay Rail Link in its 2014 budget.
“At that time, I warned that skimping on the rail line would reduce its quality.”
The Moreton Bay Rail Link was promised by Julia Gillard during the 2010 federal election, and funding was formalised from the Commonwealth in December 2010.
Albanese says the project will reduce traffic congestion and provide a new option for thousands of commuters who travel from the Redcliffe Peninsula each day.
“The Liberals’ cuts to the Moreton Bay Rail Link fit in with its general lack of support for investment in public transport,” he concluded.