PLANS to improve Mornington Peninsula road and rail services came to a sudden halt last week with the federal government announcing cuts of more than $300 million from infrastructure projects.
The move means the cancellation of both the Jetty Road, Rosebud overpass and the electrification of the train service from Frankston to Baxter.
The $225 million promised by the previous Coalition government to duplicating and electrifying the line to Baxter came nowhere near to the estimated $1.5 billion needed.
Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said the federal government said the infrastructure cuts included “projects that were not realistically going to be delivered with the funding available … [or] that do not align with Commonwealth or state and territory priorities”.
However, $57.5 million will stay in the budget to upgrade the Western Port Highway along with $43.5 million for commuter car park upgrades on the Frankston line.
The recommendation to drop the peninsula’s rail and road projects followed a review into uncompleted infrastructure projects ordered by the Labor federal government.
“The independent strategic review found that the Infrastructure Investment Program inherited from the former Coalition government was undeliverable,” King said.
Quick to voice concerns over the fate of the projects were Flinders MP Zoe McKenzie, Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Steve Holland and CEO of the Committee for Frankston and Mornington Peninsula.
McKenzie said it was a disgrace and an insult to residents that the peninsula had “again been neglected by Labor”.
“The most called for road upgrade on the Mornington Peninsula is the Jetty Road overpass, and this completely out of touch government has cancelled the project and cut the funding,” McKenzie said.
Cutting off the rail money was a “visionless stunt and an embarrassing about face” by the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Dunkley MP Peta Murphy who had both backed the rail extension before being elected to government.
Holland said the “withdrawal of $300 million set aside” to extend the rail line to Baxter (“a vital first step towards extending the metropolitan train service all the way to Hastings”) and upgrade the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, was “deeply unfair and incredibly disappointing”.
He said both commitments had been “dependent on matching funds from the Victorian government”.
“At the very least, I call on the federal government to ensure this funding stays on the Mornington Peninsula and is spent on other projects,” Holland said.
Sinclair said the Committee for Frankston and Mornington Peninsula was disappointed with the cuts and would “be seeking clarification from the government about where they do plan to invest in critical infrastructure in our region over coming years”.
“At a time when the state government has allocated nearly $30 million in this year’s state budget for the Port of Hastings and its plans for a renewable energy terminal, improving public transport and the rail line between Frankston and Hastings has never been more crucial,” he said.