BUDGET 08/09: Budget is an 'abject failure: SARTA

By: Jason Whittaker

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) has labelled the federal Budget an "abject failure" and has accused Prime Minister

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) has labelled the federal Budget an "abject failure" and has accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of engaging in "cynical political spin".

SARTA Chief Executive Steve Shearer is fuming the Government reneged on its commitment to deliver much-need funds for the North-South Corridor, which would have gone towards reducing congestion and improving freight efficiency.

Despite the glowing approval of various industry groups for the Government’s first budget, Shearer says South Australia will actually go backwards under Rudd’s stewardship.

"The State’s massive road maintenance backlog will only worsen under this budget because we need at least $300 million in road maintenance funding from the Federal Government and they have not delivered it," he says.

"All South Australians should be very concerned at the abject failure of the first Rudd/Swan federal Budget to deliver adequate funds for new roads and road maintenance in South Australia."

And despite Rudd claiming the Government has met all of its election commitments, Shearer says it has failed to deliver on its promise made during last year’s election campaign. During a stop in Adelaide on November 9 last year, Rudd announced $500 million for the South Road project yet the money has not been forthcoming.

"South Australians might well ask, ‘Where is the funding commitment to back up this apparent commitment from Prime Minister Rudd to the North-South Corridor, or was it purely cynical political spin on his part?’, Shearer says.

The SARTA boss has also hit out at the $12.6 million announced in the Budget for planning of the South Road upgrade. According to Shearer, this commitment is 20 percent of what was promised and what was "needed to undertake serious and effective planning".

South Australian Treasurer Kevin Foley has also been referred to as ignorant for on-air comments made today regarding funding for South Road. According to the Treasurer, reduced funding does not matter because the project is "very long term".

"The upgrade of South Road is the single most important road project in this State and it must not be treated as a ‘very long term’ project and it is a great concern that our own treasurer seems unaware of the vital importance of this project and unconcerned by the grossly inadequate funding for SA roads in the federal Budget," Shearer says.

By referring to the project as long term, Shearer says South Australians are justified in asking how committed the State Government is in ensuring the South Road upgrade is completed as soon as possible.

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