Ministers vent outrage on Moorebank allegation

Moorebank Intermodal Company made hub call and plenty being spent on rail, Truss and Cormann say

Ministers vent outrage on Moorebank allegation
Moorebank and other infrastructure decision have been defended


Senior Federal Government ministers have taken issue with recent criticism of infrastructure-focused strategies and decisions.

Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss is leading the backlash with Finance Minister Matthias Cormann in support as they tackle allegations concerning the recent Moorebank decision and critical comment on possible distortion of state infrastructure spending.

Both issues were given airings in the Fairfax press, which has taken a strong line with the Coalition recently.

This has garnered a strong response with Truss and Cormann labelling allegations that Qube-Aurizon consortium Sydney Intermodal Terminal Alliance (SIMTA) was given "inside running" to develop the Moorebank Intermodal freight terminal "a disgrace".

The ministers point out that "the tender process is being managed entirely by the independent Board of the Moorebank Intermodal Company.

"The Board is a well-respected group of individuals entirely appointed by the former Labor Government.

"The Abbott Government did not and could not ‘cut short’ the competitive tendering process as Fairfax Media claimed this morning.

"The decision was solely a matter for Moorebank Intermodal Company, who were advised by probity auditors Walter and Partners."

Meanwhile, Truss took issue with claims dating back to the Budget aftermath that the focus on Federal funds for roads would distort state spending plans.

Think tank the Grattan Institute questioned the spending direction at the start of the month and Fairfax gave an airing this week to how that might affect state priorities but this was discounted as "theoretical" and "debunked by the facts".

"The Australian Government is not ‘only' funding roads," Truss says, while repeating the Federal line that rail spending is a state responsibility.

He adds that the Coalition has committed $25 billion to public transport projects.

"Victoria is going ahead with the Melbourne Metro and Queensland is planning the Cross River Bus and Train Tunnel," Truss says.

"NSW has the North-West Rail link and in WA the Forrestfield Airport link.

"In addition, the states are free to spend their payments from the Australian Government's $5 billion Asset Recycling initiative on whatever economic infrastructure they deem necessary."

Truss points to Budget spending of $3.6 billion in rail projects − such as $1.6 billion in freight rail and intermodal projects, including the Advanced Train Management System trial, as well as "intermodal projects at Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, rail revitalisation in Tasmania, and work on improving lines in Adelaide and port rail connections in Sydney and Perth" − along with $300 million on the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail route.

"Another $2 billion is being invested in urban passenger rail over a six-year program to 2018-19, including the Moreton Bay rail link in Brisbane, completing the Regional Rail Link in Melbourne and the Gold Coast Rapid Transit project," Truss says.

"The Australian Government's immediate priorities are to support the movement of freight onto rail through targeted investments in major rail freight corridors and the development of critical road transport links to drive strong economic benefits for our major cities and regional areas.

"The state governments support our infrastructure spend."



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