Less than one tenth of the $1.8 billion in road and rail funding promised to South Australia in the federal budget will be delivered before 2022, sparking claims the state has been misled.
Tuesday’s budget included $1.4 billion to finish the South Road upgrade, including $177 million for Regency Road to Pym Street, $220 million to electrify part of the Gawler rail line and $160 million to upgrade Port Augusta’s Joy Baluch Bridge.
But opposition treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan said forward estimates included only a small portion of the money and South Australians had been deceived in the lead-up to budget night.
“The federal infrastructure minister has now pointed out that (the $1.8 billion commitment) is not the case, in fact, less than one tenth of that money will be available to South Australia over the next four years,” he said.
Premier Steven Marshall and Infrastructure Minister Stephan Knoll spruiked the budget during question time on Wednesday, highlighting tax cuts for individuals and small businesses as a win for all South Australians.
“Low taxes mean that there’s going to be more activity, which means that we’re going to create more jobs for South Australia,” Mr Marshall told reporters.
He said the previous Labor administration led an infrastructure “go slow” and failed to develop a pipeline of projects, but agreed the funding should be delivered earlier.
“It’s fair to say that we in the South Australian Liberal Party want to bring those projects forward, we want them done as soon as possible, delivered as soon as possible for the people of our state,” he said.
The budget was also slammed by a collective of South Australian industry groups, who labelled it as a “misleading, untimely and inauspicious deal”.
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME), Freight Council (SAFC), Civil Contractors Federation (CCF SA) and the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) said South Australia’s three big-ticket projects had each been short-changed.
“This year’s budget is all smoke and mirrors and delivers none of the pre-budget announcements made on Monday,” said Evan Knapp, SAFC chief executive.
“It is now clear that the Commonwealths’s commitment to complete the North South Corridor by 2023 will not be met without a change to the budget.”