Freight Rail, Passenger Rail

States need to help accelerate infrastructure spending: Tudge

Alan Tudge says the onus is on states to facilitate the acceleration of national infrastructure spending in response to a Reserve Bank push for more action.

Tudge, federal minister for cities, urban infrastructure and population, said the Commonwealth was prepared to provide immediate funding on several key projects included in its $100 billion, ten-year infrastructure plan, but the states need to play ball.

“There are several major projects that have significant funds committed by the federal government, but which state governments have yet to commit,” Tudge wrote in the Financial Review on July 16.

“This includes the huge $4 billion East West Link in Melbourne that would generate 3,700 jobs and finally connect the Eastern Freeway to the other side of town. Our federal commitment would cover the entire government share of funding meaning it will not cost the Victorian government a cent. Let’s get on with it!”

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews tore up contracts to build the East West Link with combined government money when he came to power in 2014. Despite continued pressure from the Coalition, the premier maintains the project does not “stack up,” and has refused to support its delivery.

Tudge said the Coalition has faced a similar road block building Roe 8 and 9 highway extensions in Perth. “Finally, over the next 12 months, we want to see each of the 166 Urban Congestion Fund projects either under construction or at least in detailed planning,” he said.

Tudge’s highlighting of projects which have been under state-federal dispute for several years comes in response to a recent call by the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe for the Commonwealth to ensure a war chest of projects are at least ‘shovel ready’ in case the economy slows.

Labor has leapt on the RBA chief’s comments, saying they support accelerated funding, and Labor leader Anthony Albanese criticised Tudge’s column for putting the onus on states.

“It was very disappointing that this morning, it’s reported that Alan Tudge has actually called for state governments to do more on infrastructure rather than what he has responsibility for,” Albanese told a press conference in Perth on July 16.

“We know in WA here, the McGowan Government is putting record funds into infrastructure through programs like Metronet and other road projects that they’ve put forward. Labor put forward, during the recent federal campaign, an additional $460 million worth of good infrastructure projects over the forward estimates.

“There are a range of projects that could be brought forward, and the government needs to examine them and do more when it comes to infrastructure investment.”

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