A $9.3 billion pledge for a Melbourne metro rail project today is another slap in the face for farmers waiting 12 months for the Andrews Government to stump up $5 million for better regional rail.
Work on the Murray Basin Rail Project in north-west Victoria ground to a halt after poor project management and cost overruns by the Andrews Labor Government.
The Federal Liberal Nationals Government has stumped up an extra $200 million to fix Labor’s mess, with a contribution of just $5 million requested from the Andrews Government for further planning.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said standardisation of the freight rail line would be transformational for north-west Victoria, making farmers and the freight supply chain more productive and efficient.
“Once completed, the Basin Rail will open north-west Victoria to the world with a better, faster, more efficient freight rail connection to Melbourne’s domestic and international markets,” Mr Walsh said.
“But since Daniel Andrews and Labor were elected in 2014, it’s gone from bad to worse leaving the project at a total standstill.
“Victorian farmers are well known around the globe for producing high quality, clean, green produce which is why better connecting them with international markets will be a boon for our state’s $17.8 billion agriculture sector.
“But under the Andrews Labor Government and the botched oversight of Minister for Excuses Jacinta Allan farmers and transport stakeholders are worse off than when the project started.”
The Commonwealth committed a further $195 million in December 2020, with an extra $5 million for planning – to be matched by the State Government.
Mr Walsh said the Federal funds were announced nearly 12 months ago, which was more than enough time for the Andrews Government to come to the table.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to standardise the freight rail network in north-west Victoria that’s being squandered by a city-centric Labor Government,” Mr Walsh said.
“Farmers and transport stakeholders will never forgive Labor and Jacinta Allan if this Project isn’t completed, in full and to its original scope.”