2019 Federal Election

The 2019 Federal Election is being held on Saturday May 18, 2019. Transport is typically considered a state issue, but many transport projects right across the country are pushed and funded by the federal government, including projects here in NSW. The incumbent Liberal National Coalition led by Scott Morrison is up against the Labor opposition led by Bill Shorten.

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Bill Shorten (Labor) is looking to take government from Scott Morrison (Liberal National Coalition) – AAP

Both parties are coming to the election with a number of cornerstone commitments in the transport space. We will make it very clear from the outset that we don’t accept road projects as transport projects and as such we do not include these commitments. The funding that both parties are proposing will go towards projects that have been deemed to be High Priority or Priority infrastructure initiatives in the near to medium term by Infrastructure Australia.


Both parties are promising to fully fund Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport – WSROC

The Liberal National Coalition is running on a very status quo campaign this election. They have proposed just over $18 billion in funding over 10 years for transport projects at this election, including;

  • At least $5 billion to fully fund and building the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $3.5 billion in funding for a North-South rail link between St Marys and Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $40 million on assessments for fast rail corridors
  • $9.3 billion for Inland Rail

This current Liberal government has a mixed record on Transport. After being first elected in 2013, then PM Tony Abbott announced that he would refuse to fund any public transport projects. There was the cancellation of more than $4 billion of planned investment in public transport infrastructure in the 2014 budget, including projects that had been positively assessed by Infrastructure Australia. Under PM Malcolm Turnbull, there had been a return to some expenditure on public transport, however this has still be very paltry when compared to past governments.

Currently Deputy PM Michael McCormack is the federal Minister for Transport, however we often get long periods of radio silence from him on transport matters.  Perhaps the best achievement on transport made during the life of this government was the Western Sydney City Deal. This allowed for co-ordinated investment with the state government in the Western Sydney Airport precinct. Despite this investment their record is still poor, with over $5 billion in previous transport commitments yet to be delivered.

Labor is running one of the largest policy based campaigns in Australian history, and this also extends to their commitments on Transport. Labor is promising an extensive funding splurge of around $22 billion in their first term of government.

  • At least $5 billion to fully fund and building the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $3 billion in funding for a North-South rail link between St Marys and Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • Additional funding for an extension of the South West Rail Link from Leppington to Western Sydney Airport
  • $3 billion in funding for Sydney Metro West between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, doubling rail capacity
  • $50 million for a High Speed Rail authority to finalise track alignment, start land acquisitions and finalise an updated business case for an East Coast high speed rail line
  • $1 billion for land acquisitions in Southern Sydney for an East Coast high speed rail line
  • $9.3 billion for Inland Rail
  • Independent inquiry into the Inland Rail route to address concerns over changes made that advantaged rich landholders over farmers

Under the previous Labor government of 2007-2013, there was a record investment in urban public transport infrastructure as well as the reconstruction of over one third of our current rail freight network. Anthony Albanese will be Minister for Transport in a new Labor government, should they be elected. Under the previous term of government he oversaw the creation of peak body Infrastructure Australia and was a fierce advocate for investment in public transport infrastructure.

The commitment to high speed rail is an interesting one from Labor. Whilst it is an often trotted out concept that often goes nowhere, it is impressive that they have committed over $1 billion dollars to the important area of property acquisition, that realistically needs to be occurring right now to future proof for an actual HSR line in the future.

Labor is promising more to more than double the funding for Sydney Metro when compared to the Coalition – Transport NSW Blog Collection

This election, the Liberal National Coalition is going to the election without a commitment to fund some of the most important infrastructure projects across Australia, Sydney Metro West and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail. Both of theses projects have been assessed to be high priority in the near term by Infrastructure Australia for near term construction. On the other hand, Labor has promised to partially fund both of these projects.

Sydney Metro West is a proposed new rail line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, which is designed to take pressure off of the existing T1 Western Line. It will double rail capacity along the Parramatta-CBD corridor. Despite being assessed as a high priority initiative for construction within the next five years and the project likely requiring federal government support, the Liberal party has promised no funding astroturfing all over a 10 year period for this project. Labor has promised $3 billion for the project.

Cross River Rail is a new rail line through the Brisbane CBD, designed to take pressure of the existing Merivale Bridge and CBD rail line. This project is of interest to NSW transport as it is the only way to increase rail access to the Brisbane CBD and this lack of access detriments NSW rail services. This currently means that XPT services in the Far North Coast region have to operate at undesirable nighttime hours for arrival and departures into Brisbane, a situation which can only be fixed with Cross River Rail. Further, there are numerous local benefits for Cross River Rail.  Labor has promised $2 billion for the project.

Beyond these two projects, there are a number of non-NSW specific projects that the Coalition has failed to promise funding for, and history shows that even when the Coalition promises projects they don’t necessarily deliver. Additionally, there should be great skepticism taken with any 10-year funding plan from either side of government, as there ability to deliver these sort of promises is typically very low when it is not a bipartisan measure. As the entire offering from the Coalition is based on a 10 year plan, with little to no money actually being delivered this term, it is hard to see what transport benefits will actually materialise with a re-elected Coalition government.

Labor is promising more, sooner. All of Labor’s promises are fully funded in their first term of government rather than relying on longer term estimates of spending. This allows them to demonstrate that they are actually committed to their promises and they weren’t just an empty promise that can be repeated election after election. Additionally, the experience and expertise that Anthony Albanese will bring to the role will be of great benefit to the wider Australian transport landscape, particularly his work as Transport Minister and with Infrastructure Australia.

Anthony Albanese will be the federal Minister for Transport if Labor wins the election. He previously served in the role between 2007-2013 – Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

There appears to be a wider compelling case for a change of government at this election and this extends into the transport realm. Labor has a better transport platform and a more experienced team that is more likely to deliver.

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