Bandt moves to block East West tollway funding

Greens Deputy Leader and Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt MP says he will introduce legislation to block Federal funding of the East West tunnel unless the Melbourne Metro is funded first.

The legislation will amend the Infrastructure Australia Act 2008 to require the Commonwealth to prioritise federal funding of rail projects already on the National Priority List, such as the Melbourne Metro, ahead of any new major metropolitan road projects such as the East West tunnel that are not even on the list.

“It is simply astounding that Commonwealth might fund the East-West tollway ahead of the Melbourne Metro rail,” said Mr Bandt.

"It’s a question of priorities. Victoria's public transport system is under severe pressure and needs an urgent injection of Commonwealth funds."

“According to Infrastructure Australia, the East-West tunnel has not made the grade, yet the Melbourne Metro, which tops the Infrastructure Australia National Priority List, is being sidelined.”

“The East-West tunnel was Victorian Labor’s idea and although some in Labor still spruik it, Minister Albanese has said he wants to fund the Metro rail tunnel. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott wants to tip in $1.5 billion for a tollway that doesn't even have a business case yet. If Labor is serious about opposing this tollway, it needs to get behind my bill in case we have a change of government in September.”

“Here in Melbourne and around the country important rail projects are languishing while state governments pursue the priorities of the road lobby instead of those identified by Infrastructure Australia. This bill will ensure Infrastructure Australia’s work is more than a wish list able to be ignored in the pursuit of political advantage.”

“The East West tollway isn’t just a failure economically, it would also wreck inner Melbourne and fail to solve Melbourne’s transport problems.”

"There's only a fixed amount of infrastructure money the Commonwealth will give Victoria and if billions go to a tollway we may never see the Melbourne Metro built."

Mr Bandt will seek to introduce his Infrastructure (Priority Funding) Amendment Bill 2013 in the coming sitting period and seek its urgent passage before the election.

The bill will prioritise rail projects identified by Infrastructure Australia over major road projects but will not affect road safety funding, such as black spot programs, or the completion of projects already underway, such as the Ring Road project.

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