Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Ports, Freight and Logistics, and for Industrial Relations, Natalie Hutchins MP has warned that vital freight projects across the state have been abandoned, hurting a growing industry, in the recent Victorian budget.
Road-based freight improvement projects have been cut in the Budget, from nine to two, as well as freight maintenance funding.
“Denis Napthine is pocketing more in vehicle registration fees but not putting the money back into projects that the industry needs,” Ms Hutchins said.
One of the shelved projects was a commitment to complete the M80 upgrade from the Princes Freeway at Laverton North to the Greensborough Highway – a major freight route for the North and East.
These cuts will jeopardise the capacity, efficiency and safety of Victoria’s freight and logistics sector.
“This is economically irresponsible – at a time of high unemployment, the growing freight and logistics sector is a lifeline for Victoria. Under Denis Napthine, if you’re a worker or you run a business, then you’re on your own,” Ms Hutchins said.
Ms Hutchins highlighted:
- There has been no commitment in the Budget to complete the much needed M80 upgrade, after last week’s decision by the Federal Government to redirect $550million of funding for the completion of the M80. (Budget Paper 3, page 269, reveals a scaling back of Ports and Freight Network Improvements and cuts to Maintenance.)
- In the $3.8 million for the ‘Port Rail Shuttle’ there was no freight intermodal investment for 3.5 years, and no business plan.
- There has been an increase in registration fees ($25 for cars & light trucks). The government now earns $1.4 billion from vehicle registration fees, including trucks, which is $797 million more than when it came to office.
- No relief for congestion on the WestGateBridge until 2024, subject to the government’s East-West Stage 2 project, getting off the ground.