Member for Western Victoria Region, Bev McArthur MP today expressed her frustration with the disparity in infrastructure expenditure between metropolitan and rural areas. Mrs McArthur drew particular attention to the vastly disproportionate allocation of funds by the Andrews Government in rail infrastructure funding.

Mrs McArthur said, “Inside the tram-tracks of Melbourne, Daniel Andrews and his government are using almost $15 billion of Victorian taxpayer dollars for the removal of 75 level crossings, an average of $200 million for each individual project.   Additionally, $11 billion is being spent on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project which has blown out by a further $150 million.  While it is obvious expenditure needs to occur for these major projects, recent cost blowouts and criminal conduct by employees associated with the sky rail project point to waste and mismanagement on a grand scale."

"Meanwhile, rural Victorians continue to miss out with Premier Andrews and his Transport Infrastructure Minister, Jacinta Allan failing to fund vitally important rail infrastructure projects,” she said.

Mrs McArthur evidenced the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project which is an essential upgrade to the rail freight system of Western and Northern Victoria.  The scheme, which received 50% federal funding, was managed by the state government who announced it as a ‘critical project’ for Regional Victoria when construction commenced in 2016.  However, despite expectations that the MBRP would be completed in late 2018, Minister Allan recently announced that funds for the plan had been depleted with cost blow-outs preventing the completion of stage two and all further stages.

Mrs McArthur said, “This rail infrastructure project is essential to improving the prosperity and productivity for the agriculture and transport sectors of this rural Victorian food bowl and agribusiness area of Victoria.  Only with enabling infrastructure investment in rural and regional Victoria, will businesses, including many small and family businesses, be able to gain competitive access to the state, national and global economies”. 

“The botched management of the Murray Basin Rail Project by the Andrews Government is a total disgrace and further evidence of the government’s inability to manage major projects on time and on budget,” she said.

Similarly, Mrs McArthur referenced the recent V/Line train bungle that left up to 100 passengers standing in the aisles and sitting on the floor for the duration of the service from Warrnambool to Melbourne. Travellers on the Warrnambool line are also still waiting for the introduction of VLocity trains which were first introduced to Victorian railways in 2005. She also expressed concern that the Federal Government had contributed $104 million to these Warrnambool line VLocity trains with none apparently coming online any time soon. 

Mrs McArthur further highlighted the unacceptable lack of access for Warrnambool to Melbourne V/Line travellers using wheelchairs, an issue which she had recently raised in Parliament. She also understands families with prams often lack adequate access on this train line. 

“There is no doubt commuters in metropolitan electorates are experiencing poor rail performance through inadequate transport management. However, Western Victoria Region travellers endure inadequate rail services and lack of infrastructure expenditure on a regular basis. Rural Victorians should not have to put up with this second-class treatment by Minister Allen and the Andrews Government.”

“While the Andrews Government has received profits from new and increased taxes, the $9.7 billion lease agreement for the Port of Melbourne and $400 million from the sale of the Rural Finance Corporation, this Labor Government has failed to commit to improving essential infrastructure for rural and regional Victoria,” she said.

“The Andrews Government and his Transport Infrastructure Minister have unquestionably failed in their promise to “Deliver for All Victorians”. 

12 July 2019

Contact: Bev McArthur MP 0418 593 169