Anthony Albanese has been accused of ‘supporting’ a fellow Labor Prime Minister by pumping money into a pet project where costs are spiraling out of control and no solid business case has been made.
The Albanian government announced on Sunday that it will spend $2.2 billion on Victorian Labor Prime Minister Dan Andrews’ Suburban Rail Loop, despite the massive project being heavily criticized for not being properly budgeted or planned.
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, who represents Deakin’s Melbourne seat, said the Albanian government is doing a political favor that breaks their election promise to stop such ‘rorts’.
The Suburban Rail Loop is the centerpiece of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews ‘Big Build’ program of massive infrastructure spending
“Labour is more interested in supporting the rotten government of Daniel Andrews than in building the infrastructure Victorians need,” Sukkar told the Daily Mail Australia.
The project, which involves the construction of an underground track to connect most of Melbourne’s outwardly radiating rail lines in the suburbs, as well as the construction of an airport station, is at the center of the Andrews administration’s massive infrastructure spending on ‘Big Build’ .
In a damning report released in September, The state Auditor General said the Andrews administration had failed to demonstrate how the benefits of the project outweigh the costs, which have skyrocketed according to an independent assessment.
Victoria’s Parliamentary Budget Office estimated that the cost of completing the first two phases will be $125 billion, which is more than double the initial cost quoted by the Andrews government of $50 billion for the entire 90km of track. .
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar has reacted strongly to the Albanian government’s pledge of money to the Suburban Rail Loop, saying it is motivated by supporting a ‘rotten government’
The Budget Office also estimated that taxpayers would have to cough up another $75 billion in operating expenses.
The project has not been submitted to Infrastructure Australia, the body Mr Albanese set up as part of the Rudd Labor government intended to act as a ‘neutral arbiter’ judging projects on their merits rather than political gain.
Mr. Sukkar was quick to respond to this.
“The suburban white elephant rail line has not been recommended by Infrastructure Australia, which breaks yet another Labor promise,” he said.
To win office, Mr. Albanese and his Labor colleagues made a great game of the former Morrison administration indulging in “sports disruptions” and “parking disruptions,” funneling federal money into projects in mostly-owned seats. of coalition members.
Victoria’s opposition has even said it will ‘pause’ the project if it wins office in the state elections within six weeks and will use the money thrown at it for other projects.
Anthony Albanese ran a vigorous campaign to stop politically motivated ‘rorts’ meaning taxpayers’ money being spent on partisan ends – but is now being criticized for doing just that
The issue has echoes of the 2014 Victorian election, where Mr Andrews defeated the Baillieu coalition government to claim power.
He immediately scrapped the East West Link project, despite early work being done on it and the then federal coalition government promising to collapse $4 billion.
Despite Mr Andrews’ promise that scrapping the East West Link would cost taxpayers nothing, the cancellation cost $1 billion.
“By canceling the $4 billion set aside for the East West Link, residents of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs will continue to spend even more time crippling traffic,” Sukkar said.
Mr Sukkar was not alone in criticizing the Albanian government’s willingness to help with the Suburban Rail Loop.
An independent assessment of the cost of constructing the Suburban Rail Loop says it is already more than double the original estimate for just part of the project.
The Albanian government has strongly defended the $2.2 billion allocation to the project as a major part of the $2.57 billion in infrastructure funding flowing to Victoria at the end of October in the federal budget to be handed over at the end of October.
Mr Albanese said the Suburban Rail Loop will ‘transform’ the way people travel around Melbourne.
“It’s about making travel faster, but also making sure Victorians can get home safely to their families,” he said.
“With our first budget, my team will continue to deliver projects in coordination with Infrastructure Australia and all levels of government to really make a difference in the lives of Australians.”
Infrastructure Minister Catherine King told the ABC Sunday that her government was “really committed” to the “visionary” project, which was an election pledge.
She called it “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” to change the way Victoria grows.
Infrastructure Minister Catherine King has admitted Suburban Rail Loop project has not been assessed by ‘independent arbiter’ Infrastructure Australia
She admitted, however, that Infrastructure Australia had not yet assessed a single business case and that the money pledged was only for the ‘early works’.
“Obviously they have an election they’re up for, this will be a contentious project I’m sure, but it’s something we’re confident in,” she said.
Mr. Albanese on Sunday declined to commit to any of the alternative goals the opposition has proposed for the $2.2 billion in federal funds, such as a children’s hospital in the western state of the state.
However, the Albanian government has finally put the East West Link to rest.
It has removed the $4 billion “emergency” in money promised to fund the project, which the Morrison government had kept in its budget documents.