Alannah MacTiernan attacks the opposition over its lack of support for public transport


The Australian: Alannah MacTiernan attacks the opposition over its lack of support for public transport. (Nicolas Perpitch. The Australian. July 9, 2013 Picture: Colin Murty Source: The Australian)

Alannah MacTiernan, the federal Labor candidate for Perth, says growing cities need a highly efficient public transport system to function properly.

Labor candidate for Perth Alannah MacTiernan has launched a comprehensive broadside against the “primitiveness” of the Coalition’s attitude to urban planning and what she says is a lack of policy to increase productivity and wealth in major cities.

Ms MacTiernan, a former West Australian state planning minister and the Mayor of the town of Vincent, said the Liberals did not understand that to function properly growing cities needed a highly efficient public transport system.

Last week Tony Abbott was in Perth, where he stated a Coalition government would provide funding for roads and freight rail but not urban rail projects.

The Barnett government announced during the March state election it wanted the commonwealth to pay for 80 per cent of its $1.89 billion airport rail link project and 50 per cent of the $1.8bn MAX light rail project. But the federal Opposition Leader said significant rail projects were “fundamentally a state responsibility”.

Ms MacTiernan said she would urge federal Labor to continue supporting these projects.

She attacked the Coalition for not taking on the issue and for the “absolute primitiveness” of the federal Liberals in relation to urban policy. “They don’t actually have an urban policy and they have no engagement in the issue of public transport. Clearly, if our cities are going to function and particularly a city like Perth, where we are growing so rapidly, we are going to need massive investment in public transport.”

Ms MacTiernan said opposition productivity spokesman Scott Morrison addressed a Sydney conference on national urban policy in May but spoke mainly about immigration and attacked Julia Gillard. “There’s no comprehension that the shape of cities and the structure of cities is actually a productivity issue,” she said.

“The research is so profound in this area that to really maximise the productivity of your city and wealth creation and wealth generation, you’ve really got to have cities that have a high level of mobility.”

Mr Morrison and Mr Abbott’s office were contacted for comment.

In May, Mr Morrison said the nation’s population could grow if “the services, the infrastructure, the roads, hospitals and schools are able to keep up with that growth. Where those elements are not synchronised, that’s where people start to lose confidence and support for population growth. That’s where we lose productivity.”

Ms MacTiernan is seeking to replace retiring Defence Minister Stephen Smith in the seat of Perth.