Labors razor gang strangles eastern state rail: Truss

By: Jason Whittaker


The Federal Government’s plan to delay rail maintenance funding of $65 million has been slammed as a "broken election promise"

The Federal Government’s plan to delay rail maintenance funding of $65 million has been slammed as a "broken election promise" and one that will impact upon transport efficiency.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Local Government Warren Truss accused the Government of going back on its word because it committed, during last year’s election campaign, to addressing transport bottlenecks throughout Australia.

The decision means working rail lines through NSW and Victoria will not be upgraded in 2008 and 2009, as intended by the previous government, Truss says.
"Quite sneakily, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner claimed that the funding pushed back from this year and 2008-09 until 2009-10 related only to the ‘inland rail’ proposal."

According to Truss, however, Treasury papers show the $65 million was to be used for maintenance and upgrading of existing rail lines that may "contribute to a future inland corridor".
"In other words, Rudd 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," he says.

The decision to delay funding will have a serious impact on rail transport productivity, which may have a flow-on effect to the wider community, Truss says.
"At a time when we are emerging from drought in many places, farmers will want to move more food and fibre to market, not less," he says.
"Constricting trade will drive up prices for consumers and inflation, make us less competitive internationally."

Truss says the Government must "immediately" reinstate the $65 million in funding or face the consequences of its decision.
"Labor will stand condemned for letting rail lines run down and breaking election promises about fixing infrastructure bottlenecks," Truss says.

"When Mr Rudd said before the election that the nation had to prepare for the mining boom to end, little did we know that he planned to strangle supply routes from mine to port."

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