Port sale should fund new trains for north east line
09 March 2016
Local Nationals MPs Steph Ryan and Tim McCurdy are calling on the Andrews Government to use part of the proceeds of the sale of the Port of Melbourne to provide new trains on the north-east rail line.
The Nationals refused to pass a bill to lease the Port of Melbourne until Labor agreed to return at least 10 per cent of the proceeds to transport projects in country Victoria.
"The sale of the port is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put new rolling stock on the north-east line to improve the comfort, reliability and frequency of the service," Ms Ryan said.
Mr McCurdy said The Nationals support for the sale was conditional on it benefiting all Victorians, not just who live in metropolitan Melbourne.
"With much of the track work done to repair the botched upgrade of the line, now is the time for the Victorian Government to deliver new rolling stock for the north east," Mr McCurdy said.
Ms Ryan said the government had estimated the port's value at between $6 billion to $7 billion, which meant - under The Nationals' demands - around $700 million will be invested into transport projects in country Victoria.
"After binning the Coalition's plan to put extra long-haul services on the north east line, all we've had from Daniel Andrews and Labor MPs over the past 14 months are delays and hot air. With The Nationals Port Fund now on the table, Labor is now out of excuses."
Ms Ryan praised the work of Nationals Leader Peter Walsh who she said had been immovable that country Victorian should see a return of at least 10 per cent from the sale of the Port of Melbourne.
"Country Victoria would never have seen a cent of this money if it wasn't for Peter's dogged determination to ensure we got a fair deal," Ms Ryan said.
"Daniel Andrews thought he could take country voters for mugs. He attempted to buy us off by throwing us the scraps off the table."
Ms Ryan said Daniel Andrews tried everything to get the sale through without returning anything to regional Victoria.
“Food and fibre from country from Victoria makes up the bulk of exports through the port yet Labor intended to invest all of the proceeds from the sale into Melbourne.
"Before agreeing to our terms, Labor threatened to devalue the port by bypassing Parliament, it threatened to trigger an early election but at the end of the day, Daniel Andrews needed our support and he had no choice but to begrudgingly meet our demands."
Ms Ryan said she was disappointed Labor MPs in regional seats had not fought for money to be returned to country Victoria.
"Labor does not care about communities outside of the city limits. Jacinta Allan - a country MP and the Public Transport Minister - argued that this money should be invested exclusively in Melbourne," Ms Ryan said.