Anthony Albanese hailed Victoria’s commuter rail loop as a “national building project” while pledging $2.2 billion for the $50 billion build.
The Leader of the Opposition pledged the money for the state government’s ambitious and costly rail project during an announcement alongside Premier Daniel Andrews in Melbourne on Tuesday.
He said he “can’t think of a more exciting infrastructure project across the country.”
“That’s why Federal Labor will contribute an initial $2.2 billion to this project. This project will transform the way Melburnians can get around in this city, but also for all of Victoria,” said Mr. Albanese to reporters at Box Hill.
Mr Andrews criticized the Morrison government for its reluctance to contribute to the scheme, saying his government would always like more, but the $2.2 billion was better than “zero” currently on offer.
The rail loop was announced during the 2018 state elections at an estimated cost of $50 billion. However, initial costs for the first 26 kilometers of the project between Cheltenham and Box Hill are estimated to be between $30 billion and $35 billion.
Mr Albanese declined on Tuesday to answer whether a Labor government would commit more to the project if elected, given its high price tag.
“It’s a project that will last a long time,” he said.
“Our initial commitment … is $2.2 billion. What that will do is [it] should assure the Victorian government that it will have a partner with the national government.”
The rail loop is not on Infrastructure Australia’s list of priority projects, but Mr Albanese has defended the investment.
“This project stacks because it has a (benefit-cost ratio) of 1.7,” he said.
The suburban rail loop will be a 90 km line that will connect the eastern suburbs to the future airport rail and the greater western suburbs without the need to enter the city.
In the 2019 federal election, then-Opposition Leader Bill Shorten appeared alongside Mr. Albanese as infrastructure spokesman and Mr. Andrews to announce $10 billion for the project.