Staley fires shots over road, rail
State Government handling of Western Highway dual-carriageway and Murray Basin Rail projects continue to attract the ire of shadow treasurer and Member for Ripon Louise Staley.
Ms Staley has accused the government of negligence in failing to list the highway project as a priority and of an inability to manage the rail project.
“Roads Minister Jaala Pulford said the State Government has not provided funding to match $360-million in Federal Government funding for the Western Highway – Ararat to Stawell – duplication project because it is not a priority of the Labor government,” she said.
“Under questioning, the minister said there was no matched funding for the project because the 2019-20 State Budget was about delivering on the Labor government’s election commitments and the Labor government’s priorities.
“It is incomprehensible why the final section of the Western Highway project isn’t a priority for the Labor government, given the chief executive of Vicroads said funding was delivered to roads with the highest strategic importance and the biggest economic drivers – categories this project clearly fits inside.”
Ms Staley said it was a ‘disgrace’ that federal funding was missing in the budget and that the state contribution of $90-million was also not included.
“This project is already four years overdue,” she said.
“Including this money in the budget would have enabled the project to finally get completed.”
Out of money
In turning her attention to the Murray Basin Rail Project, Ms Staley said the project was in ‘disarray’ under the Labor government.
She said Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, during a Budget Estimates hearing, ‘belatedly admitted the project she has botched is now out of money and cannot be completed without additional funding’.
“The transformational Murray Basin Rail Project was initially funded by the Liberal state and federal governments with state Labor taking over the project on their election and Jacinta Allan boasting their revised business case ‘stacks up’,” Ms Staley said.
“Yet, there have been persistent problems with the project management as the minister haplessly botched the project to such a degree it has now run out of money.
“Under Labor there has been a $100-million blow out on the Mildura line stage; the Maryborough-ararat works have been hampered by the use of second-hand rail line, broken welds and slow speeds; and now stage three is indefinitely on hold because the Andrews government claims it has run out of money.”
Ms Staley said revelations the project was ‘out of money and on hold’ was a ‘bitter’ blow for Ripon farmers.
“Local farmers, who were set to benefit from the completion of this project, now have no idea how long they will have to wait for this vital rail project that Labor has promised to deliver,” she said.
“Meanwhile in Melbourne the Andrews government is pouring billions of dollars into transport projects that have had major cost blow outs.
“These projects aren’t being put on hold.”