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Auditor-General’s Report – Murray Basin Rail Project


Legislative Council

Parliament of Victoria

Wednesday, 18 March 2020



Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan—Leader of the Opposition) (09:48): I think the community will be shocked with the Auditor-General’s report today, Freight Outcomes from Regional Rail Upgrades: March 2020. This report from the Auditor looks at the Murray Basin rail project, a project that has been botched from go to whoa by Jacinta Allan and this Labor government. This is an important project that was funded by the previous coalition government and the federal government, and indeed the scoping work was not undertaken properly through the 2015 business case period and beyond.

The benefits to freight have not been realised. The project is only partially complete—about two-fifths complete—and indeed the outcomes are so bad that the speeds of freight trains on many of the renewed sections of line have in fact slowed from what they were previously, despite the expenditure of $440 million of taxpayers money. These are important steps to get our freight system right, but this government has botched the process seriously from beginning to end, even to the extent of re-using old sections of rail—chopped sections of rail from 1913, actually welded into the track—because of the scrimping and saving and Jacinta Allan’s steps in cutting the quality of the work on this line. I hold her responsible. She is the person who has oversighted this from 2014 onwards. She is the person who took it through the gateways. She is the person who has botched this and squandered public money and left farmers and our freight industry lacking.