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Anderson's transport policy failure.



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Anderson's Transport Policy Failure Martin Ferguson - Shadow Minister for Transport

Media Statement - 13 December 2000

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The Federal Transport Minister John Anderson is clearly not capable of developing an integrated transport plan for Australia, Shadow Transport Minister, Martin Ferguson, said today.

"Over the past 18 months, Mr Anderson has let major project after major project slip through his hands," Mr Ferguson said.

"There were high hopes for some positive initiatives out of the year's final Cabinet meeting this week, but as usual, this Government has failed to resolve our key transport infrastructure issues. The Australian people have been dudded again by Mr Anderson."

A list of Mr Anderson's failures in the transport portfolio includes:

Airports

There is still no real decision on a second Sydney Airport. We have now had five years of inaction. This week's Cabinet decision has been a shameless stall. It is a non-decision.

The Kurnell option was a last ditch, ill-considered try-on for a solution raised and abandoned at the last minute. Cabinet's vague talk of assessing other options outside the Sydney basin will also raise the hopes and anxieties of many communities. Meanwhile, the people of Western Sydney can not rest, as the Badgerys Creek site is merely 'on ice'.

The future of Bankstown is still unknown, with no clear strategy or financial commitment about assessing its capabilities and limitations. People around Bankstown and regional communities and operators need to be involved in any Government decision that affects their future.

Mr Anderson said regional airlines would go to Bankstown Airport over his dead body - so he might as well start drafting his resignation letter today. Meanwhile, Cabinet looks set to botch the sale of Kingsford Smith Airport by putting it on the market without a clear transport strategy for Sydney. How can the Government say it will maximise the sale price of KSA when it has given its competitor at Bankstown open slather and said that Badgerys will be built in about 10 years?

Sydney to Canberra Speedrail

Labor pursued a probity inquiry into the tender process because the goalposts used for the original Speedrail selection appeared to be constantly shifting. Cabinet's decision this week to drop Speedrail means Labor's fears were right all along.

This is a classic lesson in how not to deal with the private sector on major projects.

The Government changed its mind halfway through the process and caused significant expense and angst for Speedrail and alternative bidders.

The Government must now fully explain its decision on Speedrail and release all information it used to make this decision.

While the prospect of a new scoping study commencing for a new route is welcome, the Howard Government will struggle to restore the faith of the private sector in dealing with it.

The Northern Territory and South Australian communities must also be nervous about the future of the Alice-Darwin line, given the latest delays and this Government's track record on major infrastructure developments.

Western Sydney Orbital

The Prime Minister said last month that the money is in the Budget. The launch has been scheduled and re-scheduled several times. This is a major project for the people of western Sydney and a significant national infrastructure project.

Rather than waiting for the right media opportunity, Mr Anderson should get on with this important project. People should not have to wait any longer.

Dedicated freight route through Sydney

The money to start this project has been in the Budget for some time - $127 million of the Commonwealth contribution - but Mr Anderson can't make this project happen either.

This is a major rail project that will allow significant savings for freight movements - by removing the bottleneck where freight lines share commuter lines through Sydney.

Mass Limits

The road transport industry has been waiting on a decision on higher mass limits for some months. It involves a deal to be negotiated with States to prioritise bridge work so trucks can carry larger masses on key roads.

The industry has already invested in the vehicle modifications, but is being badly let down by the Minister who can't seem to finalise arrangements with the States to reap the benefit of their investments.

"The Prime Minister and his Deputy have been stringing out transport decisions all year, and they have failed to make the hard decisions on transport," Mr Ferguson said.

"The current drip-feed approach, which is driven more by the politics of holding on to marginal electorates, will not wash with people who want the Government to make decisions and then stick to them.

"The confidence of industry and the community will not be restored until Mr Anderson produces a national strategy for our transport infrastructure."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.