Following on from looking at one example of a piece of infrastructure failing to meet a decent standard and limiting economic activity, the Peak Downs Highway, this week the ridiculous political infighting which blights infrastructure spending rears its ugly head. Meanwhile, our roads continue to crumble and road improvements take longer and longer.
Earlier in the week the decision by the Victorian Labor Party to consider not honouring future infrastructure spending commitments by the current Coalition Government in the state was announced. They may not build the second stage of the East West link which will vastly improve access across the city of Melbourne, and, importantly, offer an alternative crossing of the Yarra River for freight traffic
“The Victorian Transport Association has remained supportive of the delivery of East West Link Stage 1, but we know that this is only the first step,” said Neil Chambers, VTA CEO, after the announcement. “It is imperative that further East West Link connections to the Port of Melbourne precinct and the M80 are delivered if the State is to secure its long term economic vitality.
“Not only will East West Link reduce congestion and improve living standards, it will also boost the State’s interstate and international competitiveness, drive productivity and stimulate economic activity.”
This is a direct threat to the viability of economic growth in the area. They are playing politics with the future of the trucking industry. The first stage of the East West project will go ahead and solve some major commuting nightmares for the car driving public, but without the second stage the Victorian trucking community is left with an ongoing problem.
Access in and out of the port area, and across the city, is limited by the lack of an alternative to the Westgate Bridge or the Monash Freeway. Other routes in the area have created an ongoing battle between the local residents in Yarraville and Maribyrnong, and trucking companies. Creating more negative publicity for trucking and ongoing resentment.
This East West link is just one of many projects, dependent on both Federal and State funding, around Australia which are vulnerable to this kind of infighting between politicians and parties trying to get an edge in an upcoming election.
There’s the West Connex and North Connex in Sydney, both of which will enable freight traffic to grow without the city grinding to a halt caused by congestion. There’s the duplication of the Pacific Highway, promised back in 1989 and slated to be completed by 2020, as long as the politicians don’t use it as a target.
In South Australia, funding for the ongoing South Road improvement was in doubt as a squabble between the State Labor Government and the Federal Coalition Government lingers on. Meanwhile, congestion as a result of the project continues.
In the West, the Gateway WA and Freight Link projects are vital to keep the freight flowing in and out of the port and industrial areas. Meanwhile, the Great Northern Highway disintegrates under the pressure of a constant flow of oversize loads into the Pilbara, as the government is accused of weaselling out of a commitment to improve it.
The future prospects of the trucking industry remains in the hands of politicians who are not voted in by truckies, but by the car driving public who see trucks as a menace. Couple this with a short election cycle where, once in power, a state government will spend the next three years campaigning for re-election and you have a recipe for uncertainty in spending and a trucking industry somewhere near the bottom of the spending priority list.