Thursday, 12 November 2015
Port of Melbourne Rail Shuttle Project
That the Senate—
(i) the Federal Government committed $38 million of Commonwealth funds to the Port Rail Shuttle project in Victoria,
(ii) the Port Rail Shuttle project would create a rail connection between the Port of Melbourne and three inland ports, reducing diesel use and pollution from Victorian containerised freight movements and removing up to 3 500 trucks from residential streets in Melbourne's west every day,
(iii) the Victorian Government has put this project on indefinite hold citing delays due to potential privatisation of the port, and
(iv) That the Port of Melbourne Authority, together with the Victorian Government, are well placed, and have the relevant expertise and independent advice, to progress the Port Rail Shuttle project without delay; and
(b) calls on the Government to urgently seek action from the Victorian Government to proceed with implementing the Port Rail Shuttle project, regardless of the status of the Port of Melbourne ownership or lease arrangements.
Labor was not consulted on the wording of this motion. The Port Rail Shuttle project is one of several options to address rail freight to and from the Port of Melbourne. Labor believes that expert bodies such as Infrastructure Australia, not the Senate, should recommend the best project from the available options. We understand that this is also the Greens' position. However, this is not reflected in the motion.
The Australian government remains committed to a funding contribution of $38 million to this project. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development continues to engage on the project. The only hold-up to the project is the Victorian government.
The Port Rail Shuttle project is long overdue. The government's commitment of $38 million is a critical part of making the Port Rail Shuttle project in Victoria happen. It is being held up because of delays by the Victorian government, which is saying it cannot make a decision to go ahead with the Port Rail Shuttle project because of the potential privatisation of the Port of Melbourne. The potential privatisation, regardless of whether it happens, is an irrelevant issue; we should be moving ahead urgently with the Port Rail Shuttle project regardless. Every year that we delay is another year we have more trucks on Melbourne's roads. The Port Rail Shuttle project would remove 3½ thousand trucks from Melbourne's roads and free up the roads by shifting freight onto rail.
Question agreed to.