Monday, 18 June 2012
Bradfield Electorate: Roads
A crucially needed piece of infrastructure in my electorate is the link between the F3 and M2. This is needed for a range of reasons: to reduce the appalling congestion on Pennant Hills Road, to reduce traffic on the Pacific Highway, and to establish the missing link between these two vital pieces of transport infrastructure, including for long-distance trucks travelling between Brisbane and Melbourne or otherwise taking long-distance journeys that do not necessarily originate or terminate in the Sydney metropolitan area.
Two exhaustive studies have recommended that the appropriate solution for the Pennant Hills Road congestion and the appropriate solution to establish a link between the F3 and the M2 is to build a tunnel under Pennant Hills Road. What then have we seen from the federal Labor government towards the achievement of this important objective? In last year's budget announcement, buried deep in the budget papers for 2011, there was a withdrawal of $150 million, which had previously been set aside in the forward estimates for planning work on the F3-M2 link. This year in the May 2012 budget, the position is at best extremely opaque. In an opinion piece during the week of the budget the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport had this to say:
In Tuesday's budget the Treasurer announced increased funding for infrastructure and measures to encourage private sector financing of Sydney's Moorebank Intermodal, the F3 to M2 link, and the M5 East.
This is a magnificently Delphic statement and it is extremely unclear what the minister actually meant by that. On my examination of the budget papers—and I readily concede I have only been here a relatively short time—no mention of the F3 to M2 link can be found. We made inquiries of the minister's office and asked for clarification. The minister's office pointed to a glossy booklet entitled Sydney Transport Infrastructure: Project Highlights. That glossy booklet contains the following statement:
Given the significant capital cost of both projects, the Australian Government tasked Infrastructure Australia to work with the NSW Government to explore private financing options for expansion of the M5 East and the F3 to M2.
Again, this is a magnificently Delphic statement. It is very hard to understand what it actually means and what level of finance has been allocated to the task. The picture gets even more murky when you look at the transcript of what the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport had to say in a recent interview with Adam Spencer on ABC Radio, where he made a vague claim that $150 million was still available for the F3 to M2 link. That claim was repeated in the recent consideration in detail in the Federation Chamber of the infrastructure and transport portfolio where the minister had this to say:
In addition to that, $150 million that we have committed is available also to assist in terms of being allocated in the budget for the F3 to M2.
It is difficult to understand what the position is. It is clear from last year's budget that $150 million, which had previously been contained in the forward estimates for feasibility work on the F3 to M2 link, was removed. On an examination of this year's budget it is difficult to find any specific statement that refers to the F3 to M2 link and any specific statement that the $150 million has been reinstated. Yet we have statements made by the minister, both in an interview with Adam Spencer on ABC Radio and in the consideration in detail in the Federation Chamber, that the $150 million is still available. This is a matter of great importance to my constituents in the Bradfield electorate and everybody who would like to see a better connection between the F3 and the M2. I call upon the minister to clarify this position and indicate what federal funding is available for the F3 to M2 link.