Election promises haunt Budget reality

By: Jason Whittaker

Treasurer Wayne Swan will need to set aside more than $11 billion in the federal Budget if the Rudd Government

Treasurer Wayne Swan will need to set aside more than $11 billion in the federal Budget if the Rudd Government is to implement all of its transport-related promises made during last year’s election campaign.

In the lead up to the 2007 federal election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then in opposition, promised multi-billion dollar investments in states such as Queensland Tasmania and Victoria.

And the industry will be expecting the Government to deliver, with former Opposition spokesman on transport Martin Ferguson last year claiming: "Labor only promises what it can deliver, and always delivers what it promises."

Based on Ferguson’s announcements, Queensland should receive some $4.7 billion for major projects, which includes a $2.2 billion package for the Bruce Highway and $1.1 billion to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway to six lanes.

Tasmania should also be big winners, with Ferguson’s announcements equating to almost $4.5 billion in projects. This will include wide-ranging road and rail upgrades in southern and northern Tasmania.

Under AusLink 2, Ferguson promised $2.6 billion to Victoria. Of that money, $900 million is to be spent widening Western Ring Road while $604 million is to be invested in duplicating the Great Western Highway from Bacchus Marsh to the South Australian border.

Western Australia has been promised almost $1 billion in funding while Ferguson vowed $386 million for the Northern Territory. On top of the funding commitments under AusLink across the states and territories, the Rudd Government has promised a number of other projects to be carried out in partnership with relevant jurisdictions.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) will be closely scrutinising the federal Budget after its chairman, Ivan Backman, argued it must focus on fixing freight supply chains.
"Keeping Australia moving must be central to Tuesday’s budget," he says

"This budget must deliver for our freight supply chains – road, rail, air, shipping and intermodal – if this government is to be truly nation building in character."

Backman says the Government’s Building Australia Fund must be used to fund infrastructure upgrades on top of the ones announced under AusLink programs. He says he is encouraged by suggestions the fund will be a centrepiece of Swan’s first budget.

The ALC is calling for it to be used to invest in transport infrastructure upgrades, which Backman says will build on the positive moves the Government has made in establishing Infrastructure Australia as well as a national transport policy.
"These moves have been strongly welcomed by Australia’s transport and logistics industries," Backman says.

The ALC has listed the top 24 freight bottlenecks it believes need urgent investment. Backman says the list, which was compiled in conjunction with industry stakeholders, needs to be the focus of the Government’s transport plan.

There has been concern over the impending Budget with speculation Swan will announce a raft of spending cuts in order to curb government expenditure in an effort to reduce inflationary pressures.

Fullyloaded.com.au will provide up-to-the-minute updates on all the relevant transport initiatives as the Budget is handed down on Tuesday night. Stay tuned to the website from 8pm AEST.

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