Sta­ley fires shots over road, rail

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.”

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