The Murray Basin Rail modernisation has been thrown into chaos today with revelations that the Andrews Labor Government has blown the budget and stalled the project.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan struggled to give clear and detailed answers this morning when she appeared at Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC).
The Minister failed to explain why the Andrews Government has denied for more than 12 months that the project has derailed, only to be exposed in media reports today confirming the entire $440 million budget has been exhausted and works for Stage 3 and beyond are indefinitely on hold.
Ms Allan has had responsibility for the Basin Rail Project since December 2014 and previously spruiked to Parliament: “It has taken a Labor government to deliver this Murray Basin Rail Project, It has taken a Labor government to complete the business case”.
Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said "The Andrews Labor Government has turned a transformational, once-in-a-generation rural infrastructure project into a wasteful mess of cost blow outs, missed deadlines and appalling contract management.
Under Jacinta Allan’s watch, there’s been a $100 million blow out on the Mildura line stage; the Maryborough-Ararat works have been hampered by the use of second-hand rail line, broken welds and slow speeds; and now Stage 3 is indefinitely on hold because the Andrews Government claims it’s run out of money.
Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan are pouring money into metro transport infrastructure cost blowouts – they have been able to find billions for cost blowouts on level crossing removals in Melbourne – but they treat Regional Victorians like second class citizens.
Ms Allan’s arrogance and duplicity was on full display at the parliamentary hearing today when she tried to blame everyone but herself for bungling project.
As the Minister responsible for this project, the buck stops with Jacinta Allan. If she won’t take responsibility, she must immediately hand the Basin Rail Project over to a Minister who can fix her mess."
Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure David Davis said "The Liberal Nationals last year wrote to the Auditor General to inform him of the serious issues with this project and to seek an investigation by his office.
Under Labor the project is now at a standstill – incomplete and out of money. Labor has been in Government for 16 of the last 20 years and ran out of excuses long ago."