Thursday, 4 April 2019
In the last few weeks we have seen the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and a number of ministers come down to Geelong to announce a $2 billion project to build a fast rail—a bullet train—between Geelong and Melbourne. In addition to that, there has been an announcement badged as 'Saving Sarah', the member for Corangamite: a $700 million promise to duplicate the rail line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds in the southern suburbs of Geelong. 2.7 billion dollars worth of promises sounds pretty good. This has been put forward as: 'This is going to happen. It is a commitment by government.' In fact, it's a complete hoax. Of the $2.7 billion that has been talked about in respect of those two announcements, what we discovered in the federal budget on Tuesday night was $100 million. Of the $2.7 billion, there is 0.1 actually provided for in the federal budget. In respect of the fast rail, the Prime Minister was talking about construction within the next couple of years. The reality when you look at the budget is that there is a $50 million commitment towards it in the second half of the forwards, and that begins with a feasibility study, a fact which the Prime Minister has acknowledged himself, which means there is no chance that there is going to be construction within that period of time. There is no intent whatsoever on the part of the coalition to build a fast train between Geelong and Melbourne. This is nothing other than peddling false hope. This is all about a headline. It is not about substance at all. In respect of the duplication of the line from South Geelong to Waurn Ponds, what was committed in the federal budget on Tuesday night would actually represent a slowing-down of the time frame for the delivery of what is a really important piece of infrastructure that the state Labor government committed to in its election last November.
When you actually unpack these miraculous announcements, the truth is that there is very little there. There is no intention to actually do anything, and, to the extent that they have walked into the space, it is to such a modest degree that it will actually slow down the progress of what infrastructure is being built. I can tell you this: the most successful entity in terms of building infrastructure in Victoria in living memory has been this state government. If a Shorten government is elected, we will work closely with the Daniel Andrews Labor government at a state level to deliver fast transport between Melbourne and Geelong, as has been committed to by the state government. We will be more ambitious than the federal government has been in terms of its interventions here, which to this point in time have been nothing other than a hoax.