Victorian Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan has used parliamentary budget hearings today to raise more red flags on the Murray Basin Rail Project, saying her Federal Labor colleagues have made no commitment to the project’s delivery.
Under questioning at parliamentary hearings on the 2022-23 State Budget papers, the Minister worked hard to muddy the waters and continued to refuse to provide Victoria’s $5 million co-contribution for planning to fix Labor’s botched work.
Ms Allan arrogantly claimed “this $5 million – it’s still not a thing though”, further asserting “I don’t think the incoming Federal Labor Government have that commitment [to the project]. I’ll have to check”.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh slammed the Minister’s latest under-handed attempt to shift blame for the project’s derailment away from Victorian Labor.
“Yet again, Jacinta Allan is working overtime to condemn this transformational freight rail project to the scrap heap of Labor’s mismanaged major projects,” Mr Walsh said.
“If the Minister won’t step up and demand her Federal Labor colleagues commit to delivering Basin Rail – in full and to the original scope – she should get out of the way and hand responsibility to someone who will.
“North-west Victorians deserve better than constantly being handed the scraps off the table.
“The city-centric Labor Government is totally obsessed with winning back the inner-city voters they’re losing to the Greens, which leaves regional Victorians missing out.”
The Basin Rail Project is stalled after the Andrews Government mismanaged the delivery, including with the use of century-old track. Local transport stakeholders have said the problems are so bad, they’re now worse off than before the project started.
There’s fresh hope for the Project after the Liberals and Nationals recently announced a plan to deliver a 25 per cent Regional Infrastructure Guarantee if elected to government in November.
The positive plan will see a quarter of all new government spending on infrastructure projects guaranteed for regional Victoria in the first term of government.
“This year’s budget papers show Labor’s allocated just 13 per cent of its new infrastructure investments outside of Melbourne,” Mr Walsh said.
“No more mincing words – only a Liberals and Nationals Government will guarantee regional Victorians will get our fair share of new roads, rail, hospitals and schools.”