12/04/2018 - 15:51

Labor pledges $241m for Byford line

12/04/2018 - 15:51

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Opposition leader Bill Shorten today pledged $241 million to extend the Armadale suburban rail line to Byford, bringing federal Labor’s infrastructure commitments in the state to $1.2 billion.

Labor pledges $241m for Byford line
Bill Shorten was in Perth this week announcing infrastructure commitments. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Opposition leader Bill Shorten today pledged $241 million to extend the Armadale suburban rail line to Byford, bringing federal Labor’s infrastructure commitments in the state to $1.2 billion.

The investment will mean electrification and an upgrade of the existing line which runs through Byford to Bunbury, extending the urban rail part of the route by eight kilometres.

The total project cost was previously estimated at $290 million.

It is the biggest announcement in a series in Perth this week by Mr Shorten from the $1.6 billion 'Fair share of the GST fund'.

About $83 million of cash has been promised for the extension of the Midland line to Bellevue, $64 million for the extension of Stephenson Avenue in Innaloo, and $108 million to expand the Mitchell Freeway to Romeo Road in Alkimos.

The latter road extension was one of the top priorities for the state identified by Infrastructure Australia in its recent assessment of national projects, although IA said a business case for the job was still under development by the state government.

The money is in addition to three previous commitments, comprising $700 million for the Morley-Ellenbrook rail line, $47 million to upgrade the intersection of Leach Highway & Welshpool Road and $154 million for a new mental health unit at Joondalup Health Campus.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief economist Rick Newnham took aim at the fair share fund earlier this week, saying the funding commitment was a bandaid.

It would only top up the state’s payments for one year, he said.

“Labor’s $1.6 billion fund is the amount needed to pay for the first year of transition to a new GST system where no state loses out,” Mr Newnham said.

“If Labor commits to extending their fund to $5 billion they can fix the GST once and for all while ensuring no state is worse off over the forward estimates.”

By comparison, the federal government has promised nearly $800 million for Metronet projects subject to the business cases being approved by Infrastructure Australia, and has yet to declare its hand on GST reform.

The Cockburn to Thornlie line and Yanchep rail extension are likely to be the first cabs off the rank for federal funding, with business cases for those two projects under development.

That announcement, made in May last year, was part of a $1.6 billion of funding from the federal government in a package that included a series of major road works.

A spokesperson for shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said the money had been reallocated from the defunct Roe 8 and 9 project, was part of the budget, and supported by Labor.

The federal government has a further $1.2 billion committed as a contingent liability in the budget for a future state government to build the Perth Freight Link.

Byford

Speaking to press today, Premier Mark McGowan said the state government was very committed to rail.

“Byford is a rapidly growing area … it is actually the fastest growing suburban area in Australia and it deserves a rail line,” Mr McGowan said.

“Byford has missed out before … I don’t think there's been significant recognition of the growth in that area.”

Mr Shorten said Mr McGowan has been a great advocate for the project and that there was a growing need for public transport investment in cities.

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