Remember the ads for future transport projects that we saw in 2010 and 2014? They’re baaaaaack.
The metro rail tunnel isn’t fully funded.
But the ads are a bit different from the ones we saw last year for the proposed (but now scrapped) Melbourne Rail Link (the Coalition’s then-alternative tunnel plan) and the airport rail link (on ice for now).
Although not yet fully-funded, work on the metro rail tunnel project has actually started. There has been test drilling along Swanston Street and elsewhere, as well as a lot of planning work.
Labor is clearly pushing to have major construction started before the 2018 election. This isn’t unreasonable — unlike the Coalition’s East West Link, Labor went to the 2014 election promising it. And of course Labor would be hoping to use the sight of bulldozers and tunnel boring machines as a springboard to re-election.
Hopefully this also locks in the project for completion, no matter who wins in 2018.
Obviously they’ll be hoping for Federal funding. Tony Abbott’s Coalition is highly unlikely to provide any, but if leadership of the Coalition falls to someone else, and/or the Coalition is defeated at the next Federal election, funding is more likely.
And if not? Well it’s a ten year project (by the time it’s finished, we’ll certainly need it), with a cost of about $10 billion. It would obviously be a lot of money, but $1 billion a year wouldn’t be beyond the capabilities of the state… though of course the tunnel will only really work well as part of a suite of train, tram and bus upgrades, for which funding is needed. And of course money is also needed for other projects (transport related and elsewhere).
So is this round of ads as extravagant and ill-conceived as those from Labor in 2010 and the Coalition in 2014?
I think not quite. These ads (from what I’ve seen so far) are lower-profile/cheaper, and not as directly/blatantly aimed at re-election.
And of course, I’d encourage everyone to look at the survey and give them your views of the project!