The Federal Budget will include $700 million to fully duplicate the railway between Waurn Ponds and South Geelong, but Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan has criticised the political nature of the announcement.
Federal urban infrastructure minister Alan Tudge and deputy prime minister Michael McCormack announced on Monday the funding would be included in Tuesday night’s Budget, to complete stages two and three of the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong project.
“That means a full duplication of that line,” Tudge said. “Presently it’s just a single line, it is at capacity and it needs to be duplicated to add capacity. It’s a very fast growing area, it’s a priority of the state government, and so this will get the job done.”
Tudge noted the $700 million announcement was on top of the $2 billion committed by the Coalition to facilitate fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne, to enable a 32-minute journey between the two locations.
However when the Federal Government made that $2 billion fast rail announcement last month, Allan – part of Victoria’s Labor Government – dismissed it as a “thought bubble,” and instead suggested the Federal Coalition instead focus on the Waurn Ponds duplication.
Now the Coalition has committed to that project, situated in the marginal seat of Corangamite, just weeks before a federal election, Allan has looked to highlight the apparent political motivation behind the decision.
“It does appear to be more about a political strategy for the Geelong area rather than about focusing on the projects that need to be delivered,” she was quoted by the ABC.
“If it was about the projects that needed to be delivered, why didn’t the prime minister when he was standing here in Geelong just two weeks ago, announce the Waurn Ponds projects?
“It’s pretty obvious that the prime minister, the Liberal Government, have been dragged kicking and screaming to support the Waurn Ponds project. We’re pleased that they’ve finally got there, but it does seem to be more with an eye on the election than the importance of this project for the Geelong community.”