Road Rage: Budgets have Western Australiaheading for oil shock
Media Release – Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, Lynn MacLaren MLC – Friday May 27th, 2011
The failure of the State and Federal budgets to address years of under-investment in public transport infrastructure has left the state extremely vulnerable to rising oil prices, the Greens warned today.
In Senate Budget Estimates hearings this week, Greens spokesperson for transport, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, confirmed that once again, Commonwealth infrastructure funds were pouring into urban road building while public transport funding lagged far behind.
"This Federal Budget commits five times as much funding to roads than to rail. Virtually nothing has been committed to cycling infrastructure, and with the Energy White Paper still a long way over the horizon, our country is sleepwalking in the age of peak oil,” he said.
Greens MP for the South Metropolitan Region Lynn MacLaren said while the Federal Government gave significant funding to rail projects in Victoria and Queensland, the State Government failed to request Federal funding to improve WA’s straining public transport system.
“The Barnett Government has barely made use of Infrastructure Australia’s federal funds, and has dropped the ball in the state budget as well. The promise of light rail ‘within ten years’ looks like a mirage in this budget.”
“The 15 new three-car trains are only 11 new trains in real terms, and we won’t see them in action for at least three years. The new buses will be nowhere near as effective as light rail for reducing congestion, and will all be diesel buses, so they will still be impacted by the rising price of oil, and will certainly emit more pollution than electric light rail,” she said.
Senator Ludlam said the Federal Government showed a “stunning lack of foresight” by refusing to acknowledge the age of cheap oil is over.
“All credible sources indicate we hit global peak oil in 2006,” he said. “Electric rail can be powered by renewable energy but our governments are pouring money into obsolete oil-dependent infrastructure. As the price of oil rises, and with Australia set to import 70% of its oil by 2015, the long-term economic consequences will be grave.”
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302