In the 12 months leading up to June 2016, the Bureau of Statistics has estimated that close to a third of Australia’s population growth has settled in Melbourne. This comes on top of a decade of growth which has seen Melbourne’s population increase by close to 25% while Victoria’s share of the total annual interstate and international migration is currently 37%.
It is clear that Victoria, and in particular Melbourne, is going through a population explosion. These are levels of growth not seen in any other Australian state.
The Andrews Government has an ambitious infrastructure agenda; in fact it is a transformative, once in a generation program. The program includes removing 50 of Melbourne’s most dangerous and congested level crossings, widening the Tullamarine, Monash, Westgate and Western Ring Road Freeways, building the Westgate Tunnels; finally linking the Port of Melbourne to the city’s freeway system, the construction of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project; that includes two 9km tunnels with 5 new train station under central Melbourne that adds capacity for another 39,000 passengers in each two-hour peak period each morning and afternoon, the list goes on, including one of the largest ever investments in duplication of local roads which will see roads such as Thompsons road widened from one lane in each direction to three.
The issue with this transformation is the lack of federal monies appropriated to the State of Victoria for infrastructure.
While the plan for infrastructure above is ambitious it is also almost entirely state funded. Victoria, which makes up 25% of our nation’s population, is growing faster than any other Australian state, yet, Victoria receives only 9% of federal infrastructure funding. New South Wales on the other hand receives 39% of the national carve up.
The cynics amongst us may note it is the Prime Minister and Treasurer’s home state that comes out on top.
The need for new infrastructure in Victoria is as obvious as it is overdue and it is to the Andrew’s government credit that it has set such ambitious targets. Based on current trends Melbourne’s population is due to grow to 8 Million by 2040.
Public Transport Victoria’s (PTV) annual report states that Melbourne’s Metro trains had patronage growth of 2.7% in the financial year ending June 2016, V/Line trains saw a staggering 19.4% increase over the same time and tram patronage grew by 12%. These numbers are on top of a decade of unprecedented patronage growth across the Victorian transport system. To compound the situation, it is expected that by 2050 passenger numbers will increase by over 80%.
In my electorate of Melbourne Ports, the growing pains are all too clear. While in the electorate we welcome new comers, it is expected that the infrastructure should grow with the population. In Melbourne Ports this would mean higher capacity rail and trams, while in outer area’s it would also include roads.
If the Federal Government does not distribute the federal infrastructure budget based on needs and population growth it will leave Victorian communities with inadequate transport options to meet the needs of a growing economy.
Both Prime Minister Turnbull and Treasurer Morrison appear to understand the importance of transport infrastructure projects, they have displayed their munificence to the people of NSW. This was not the deal that underlines federation
South of the border, Victorian’s are wondering; “Why are we being left behind?”
No wonder the Liberals will lose the next election with most seats leaning to Labor.