Member for Lowan and deputy Nationals leader Emma Kealy has accused the Andrews Labor Government of falsely claiming credit for taking more trucks off the road through the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS) despite Labor continuing to cut funding for the program.
The Minister for Ports and Freight claimed last week during an announcement that Labor had allocated $3.5 million in the Victorian Budget 2022/23 to extend the MSIS until June 2023.
Ms Kealy said the announcement actually represented yet another funding cut to the program and was down from the $3.6 million invested last year.
The MSIS was established by the former Liberal Nationals Government in 2014 and provided $5 million a year over four years to encourage more containerised freight onto rail.
“The MSIS program allows regional rail freight operators to offer competitive transport options for exporters, encouraging them to use rail instead of road transport to get their goods to the Port of Melbourne,” Ms Kealy said.
“Since 2018 however, Labor has cut $3.4 million in funding from the MSIS and is relying on a year-to-year funding model.
“This does not provide the necessary certainty for businesses to cost and commit to send their freight by rail rather than our already dangerous roads.
“It is also another perfect example of how wrong Labor’s priorities are when they are making funding cuts to essential programs that work to get more freight off our roads and on to rail.”
Ms Kealy said she was aware of at least one large export company who has made the decision to move their freight by truck due to Labor’s ongoing funding cuts to the scheme.
“This decision alone has put an additional 3000 trucks per year on our roads through Horsham and onto the Western Highway to Melbourne, causing our crumbling road network to deteriorate even further,” she said.
“The Andrews Labor Government says it is committed to moving more freight by rail and taking trucks off roads, but by continually cutting the MSIS it is doing the exact opposite.
“If Labor is really serious about moving more freight by rail it would be increasing funding for this program, giving it long-term security and freight operators the confidence to lock in ongoing contracts.”