AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Truss accuses Rudd of $65m infrastructure cuts

<p>Shadow infrastructure minister Warren Truss has accused the Government of backing down on its promise to secure Australia’s infrastructure network.</p> <p>Mr Truss said the Government had cancelled $65m worth of infrastructure upgrades to the proposed inland rail network that the former coalition government had approved.</p> <p>The inland rail link is a proposed freight line from Darwin to Melbourne via New England and has been the object of speculation and consideration for a number of years.</p> <p>The minister for infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, said yesterday (February 13) in Parliament that the funding would not be cut indefinitely but was postponed until a $15m study on the inland rail line was completed.</p> <p>&#8220Work done so far has identified a sub western corridor,&#8221 Mr Albanese said.</p> <p>&#8220Our study will finalise the alignment within the corridor, identify planning and environmental costs and demand for the line.&#8221</p> <p>But Mr Truss said the study would delay the upgrade of working rail lines through New South Wales and Victoria scheduled for 2008 and 2009.</p> <p>&#8220Treasury papers reveal that the $65m was to be used by the Australian Rail Track Corporation for maintenance and upgrading of a number of existing rail lines which could contribute to a future inland rail corridor,&#8221 Mr Truss said.</p> <p>&#8220Rudd Labor has slashed funding for rail lines which are already operating and allowing farm and mine product to move up and down the eastern states.&#8221</p> <p>But Mr Albanese accused the former government of being loose with taxpayer’s money and said the Rudd Government would not make the same mistake.</p> <p>&#8220The previous government had brought forward money to do work on the existing track at the same time the study was being done,&#8221 Mr Albanese said.</p> <p>&#8220That is putting the cart before the horse.</p> <p>&#8220You need to know where the line is going before the building of the line.&#8221</p> <br />