Labor and Coalition roll out ‘eye-popping’ spending commitments ahead of Victorian election
The Victorian Opposition is promising a high-speed regional rail system worth billions of dollars. (Supplied: Victorian Coalition)
The Victorian Coalition and Labor have made “unprecedented” election spending promises, an analysis has found, with cost commitments which stretch well beyond the life of the next parliament.
- Labor pledged $23.3 billion and the Coalition pledged $24.8 billion in promises
- Costs don’t include Labor’s outer-suburban rail loop, Coalition’s high-speed regional rail
- Motorsports funding and expanded GPS tracking of criminals spruiked by parties
David Hayward, a professor of public policy at RMIT University, crunched the numbers for ABC Radio Melbourne and found the parties have promised more than double the money spent in the previous two elections in 2014 and 2010.
Labor has pledged $23.2 billion worth of promises, including $300 million for a business case for the outer suburban train loop.
But the total cost of the train loop — which would include 12 new stations and 90 kilometres of new track estimated to cost up to $50 billion — is not included in that analysis.
Meanwhile, the Coalition has made spending promises totalling around $24.8 billion, according to Professor Hayward, but do not include costing for their “European-style” high-speed regional rail network, valued at between $15 and $19 billion.
“If you compare [the parties’ spending] to the previous elections in 2014, 2010 that [spending is] much, much higher than they were promising back then,” Professor Hayward told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“It’s eye-popping, unprecedented.”
He said those promises are also unusual in that they will bind future governments into specific infrastructure spending well into the future which is a shift away from budgeting in the short term.
“It raises questions about whether governments can commit future governments to something as massive as a $50 billion outer-suburban rail link or a $15 billion regional rail system,” he said.
“I can imagine people quite frankly going to the election and voting for something not realising it’s not even going to start until the next government — and that’s if the next government agrees to do what the previous government wanted to do.”
One of four level crossings Labor has promised to replace with sky rail at Pakenham. (ABC News: Richard Willingham)
Pakenham level crossings
But the spending commitments are continuing to flow, with Opposition leader Matthew Guy travelling to the marginal Liberal-held seat of Bass in Melbourne’s south-east promising to remove three level crossings in Pakenham.
Unlike the announcement from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday — to remove four level crossings with the use of sky rail — the Coalition plan involves sinking the train line into a trench instead.
Mr Guy said the Opposition would also seek to remove road intersections as part of the work.
Shadow public transport minister David Davis would not say how long or how much the project would cost but hit out at Labor’s plan.
“Sky rail is not a solution, it’s an ugly scar on the community,” he said.
Earlier, shadow corrections minister Edward O’Donohue pledged to expand the use of GPS monitoring of criminals to make the community safer.
Currently, the GPS tracking system applies to some sex offenders on supervision orders and those deemed by the parole board to be at risk.
Mr O’Donohue said the Coalition will spend around $5 million to expand the program to include carjackers and those involved in home invasions.
“The offence is so concerning and leaves the community in so much fear that to expand the GPS tracking system to incorporate these offenders will be in the interests of community safety,” he said.
The Coalition has also promised $130 million to duplicate 6.4 kilometres of the Berwick-Cranbourne Road in the Labor-held marginal electorate of Cranbourne.
Mr Andrews, with Minister for Sport, John Eren (left) pledged money for community motorsport at Avalon.
. (ABC News: Cameron Best)
Labor pumps cash into motorsports
At the Geelong Motor Sports Complex at Avalon today, the Premier said a re-elected Government would invest $7.4 million in new funds to provide grants of up to $500,000 to upgrade motorsport tracks and equipment to help “find the next Daniel Ricciardo”.
That will include money to help upgrade racetracks and to support local motorsport clubs.
Earlier Mr Andrews said he intended to see out the full four years if his Government is re-elected, which would make him the state’s longest-serving premier since John Cain.
“I love this job,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Jon Faine.
“This is very challenging but it is a very rewarding job.”
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