Tony Abbott broke promise on rich projects, says Labor

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The Australian: Tony Abbott broke promise on rich projects, says Labor. Sid Maher, National Affairs Editor Canberra. 14 October 2014

Labor has accused the Coalition of neglecting its promise to subject all infrastructure projects of more than $100 million to a cost-benefit analysis.

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said the government had given out $1.5 billion to the Victorian government for the East-West link without any cost-benefit analysis.

Mr Albanese’s criticism comes as Joe Hockey is attempting in Washington to use Australia’s chairmanship of the G20 to press for an increase in global infrastructure investment to drive economic growth.

“I appreciate the fact he is using the former Labor government’s Infrastructure Australia model, which has already been recognised as world’s best practice,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“Mr Hockey could do worse than put these principles into ­action.

“Despite Mr Hockey’s lectures to G20 members, he has already handed an advance payment of $1.5bn to the Victorian gov­ernment for the proposed East-West Link without having seen a proper cost-benefit analysis, or without construction being ready to begin.

“He would increase his credibility if he backed up the rhetoric with action.’’

A government spokesman told The Australian yesterday the funding for the East-West Link had been an election promise made when the Coalition was in opposition. Oppositions were unable to submit costings to Infrastructure Australia.

The Treasurer, who has been in the US for the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, has been plugging a proposal to create a ­global infrastructure centre to drive down the cost of building major projects.

While the centre will not raise funds for the projects, it will run ­activities such as training for government officials to manage infrastructure bidding processes for public-private partnerships.

The need to unlock more private spending in major projects was a major theme in the economic talks hosted by the IMF and the World Bank in Washington.

The new global infrastructure centre could be located in Sydney or Istanbul, given the leadership of the G20 will transfer from Aus­tralia to Turkey after the Brisbane meeting next month.

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