The Turnbull government’s response to Infrastructure Australia’s Australian Infrastructure Plan is shaping up to be just another example of the PM talking big but delivering the same-old small-thinking Abbott policies, say the Greens.
“I’ll believe the government’s talk on infrastructure when I see the action,” said Senator Janet Rice, Greens spokesperson for Transport & Infrastructure.
“Like so many issues since Mr Turnbull took the top job, the PM brought promise of a new world of transport policy but has been held back by his own party.
In Victoria, less than 1 per cent of federal transport funding is going to public transport. This week, the Senate passed a Greens motion calling on the government to prioritise funding public transport in major urban centres.
“Taking into account the Abbott-Turnbull government’s abysmal record of funding public transport, this announcement needs to be greeted with a wary eye,” said Senator Rice.
One step the government has promised is to ‘establish a study, led by an eminent Australian, into the potential benefits and impacts of road user charging for light vehicles’.
“A road pricing inquiry is a sensible step to examine the options but it must address the issues of fairness and environmental impact,” said Senator Rice.
“We’ve got to make sure that people who don’t have the choice of public transport aren’t going to be slugged even more.
“The inquiry must examine ways to encourage the use of low polluting vehicles, reduce congestion and make best use of existing road networks rather than just build ever more lanes and choking our cities.”
The Greens say the government is shirking responsibility by saying active transport projects – including cycling and walking – are ‘primarily matters for state, territory and local governments’.
“The government’s plan has a huge gap when it comes to active transport infrastructure to support cycling and walking. These modes require investment from all levels in order to support healthy cities and towns, with safe streets and low traffic congestion,” said Senator Rice.
“Half of car trips in our major cities are shorter than 5km, and with substantial investment in safe paths we know that many Australians would choose to use their bikes, freeing up the roads and reducing pollution.”
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