Prime Minister Julia Gillard has accused Tony Abbott of making ’empty promises’.JULIA Gillard has accused Tony Abbott of making ”empty promises” over a multibillion-dollar pledge to tackle traffic congestion, including $1.5 billion funding for Melbourne’s proposed east-west link.
Mr Abbott yesterday promised to kick-start funding of the new road linking the Eastern Freeway to CityLink within a year of becoming prime minister, as part of a $4-billion plan for major motorway projects in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. ”The Australian people need to know that our great cities are not at risk of gridlock,” he told the Liberal Party’s federal council in Melbourne.
He accused the government of refusing to help fund the 18-kilometre freeway, which is expected to carry 100,000 vehicles a day, and said ”inadequate road infrastructure and traffic congestion are having a negative impact on the productivity of Melbourne”.
But Prime Minister Gillard scoffed at the Coalition plan, saying Mr Abbott had failed to explain where the money would come from or how the Victorian government would provide additional funding for the east-west link.
”You can’t build a $5 billion project with $1.5 billion. People can’t drive on an empty promise. They can only drive on a fully funded, fully costed road,” she said.
”For a major project like this, you’ve got to work with the state government, the Victorian government, and they’ve got to get their paperwork in and get it right and that hasn’t been done yet.”
The first stage of geotechnical drilling on the project began in Clifton Hill in May as part of an initial $15 million commitment from the state government. The Victorian government has so far sought only $30 million from the Gillard government to develop a business case for the project but is yet to receive any federal funding.
A spokeswoman for Premier Ted Baillieu said the Prime Minister had ”failed to deliver a fair share of infrastructure funding for her home state”.
”The Baillieu government is encouraged that a future Abbott government would commit Commonwealth funding when the Gillard government has so far refused,” she said.
Mr Abbott also pledged $1.5 billion for Sydney’s $10 billion M4 East motorway extension linking the city with the western suburbs and $1 billion for the Gateway Motorway upgrade in Brisbane.
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