09 May 2018

City Deal agreement on track but must include rail infrastructure

As the Minister for Cities Paul Fletcher announced on 1 May 2018, the Commonwealth Government’s commitments to a City Deal will be announced later this year.  Any claim to the contrary is just wrong.

Last week I said I hoped a City Deal agreement could be concluded as soon as possible.  Late yesterday, in a statement to the Geelong Advertiser, I said that our government’s funding  commitments to a City Deal would be made in the coming months.

The Turnbull Government is continuing to negotiate a City Deal with the State Government and local councils and we will announce our funding commitments later this year when the terms of a City Deal are finalised.

Minister Fletcher spoke with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Daniel Mulino, on 1 May 2018 and advised him of this.  Minister Fletched issued a media statement on the same day making this clear.  For Treasurer Tim Pallas to feign surprise now when his own Parliamentary Secretary was advised of this process is simply a cynical political stunt.

I spoke with Mr Mulino on 2 May 2018 and advised him that the State’s  decision not to provide the Commonwealth with financial information about key projects, including a convention centre, until mid-April had delayed negotiations and was most regrettable.  Mr Mulino told me he was comfortable with the timeframe as proposed by Minister Fletcher.

We will not settle for second best.   As our government has consistently made clear, a City Deal should include road, rail and air infrastructure.  The $300 million Geelong duplicated rail project, to which our government has committed $150 million with Labor only providing $10 million, must be part of a City Deal and it is therefore imperative that Labor provides another $140 million to fund 50 per cent of this project.

Similarly, the Turnbull Government has provided $104 million for the Warrnambool line upgrade (for signal upgrades and passing loop west of Colac) with only $10 million from State Labor which is simply not good enough.

The Victorian Government must urgently provide more funding for local rail infrastructure, release its business case and start construction on the track upgrades on the Warrnambool line, the duplicated track through southern Geelong and stations upgrades at Waurn Ponds, Marshall and South Geelong.  Labor has also failed to take any action to fix the diastrous Regional Rail Link.

I also believe that Avalon Airport must be included in a City Deal to which our government has committed $20 million to fund a new international terminal.

I am concerned that the Victorian Government’s City Deal package contains so few projects and includes only $10 million to be spent in year one which is simply inadequate.   I am also concerned there is no funding allocated to specific projects and that the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan project has been left out in the cold.

Notwithstanding, I remain confident that the three levels of government, working together, can reach a City Deal agreement which delivers very substantially for Geelong and the Corangamite electorate.

Whether it’s delivering major roads and rail upgrades, building the NDIA headquarters or delivering tens of millions of dollars in job creation programs, I have delivered in spades for my electorate. This is in stark contrast to Mr Marles who was so incompetent that, in 2008 when in government, he stopped Avalon from building an international terminal because it was “not in Geelong and Australia’s interests.”

9 May 2018