Premiers plead Turnbull for metro rail money

By David Donaldson

Tuesday September 15, 2015

Two Labor premiers have gotten in early on the prime ministerial changeover, expressing hope this morning that the change of leadership in Canberra would lead to a new approach to funding state public transport projects.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who came to office on a promise to rid Melbourne of the previous government’s controversial East-West Link road tunnel, announced that a significant investment by the Commonwealth in the state’s public transport system would be “fair and reasonable”.

Although the Commonwealth was prepared to contribute $3 billion to East West Link, Abbott was antipathetic to federal funding for city public transport, arguing that the Commonwealth had “no history of funding urban rail”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also signaled a willingness to work with Turnbull to increase funding. Citing Turnbull’s well-known penchant for catching public transport — and tweeting about it — Palaszczuk stated, “I want Mr Turnbull to now help fund public transport in Queensland.”

“Mr Abbott was crystal clear that the federal government would have nothing to do with helping fund major public transport infrastructure,” she said. “That must change.”

Daniel Andrews said the Victorian government had already committed $1.5 billion and negotiated a $3 billion bond agreement for the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel project, but stated he was seeking a federal contribution:

“That’s $4.5 billion — we think the private sector can be a really important part of this as well, but I would welcome a strong and significant financial contribution from the Turnbull government, in recognition I think of the new Prime Minister’s clear sense that public transport is just so important,” he said.

“Any contribution would be welcome, a significant contribution is what’s fair and reasonable and I do look forward to having a conversation with someone who’s an undoubted fan of public transport.

“But it’s very important to be more than just a fan, you’ve got to provide support so that we can build an even better public transport system.”

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