A $3 billion ‘locked box’ of cash set aside for a dumped Victorian road project should be opened up for other works, the state’s premier says.
Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison should let the money earmarked for the rejected East West Link to go to other works.
‘There is $3 billion of what Mr Morrison thinks is his money in a Liberal Party locked box. Well, Mr Morrison it is not your money, the money belongs to Victorians,’ he said.
‘That money is sitting there achieving nothing, burning a hole in the prime minister’s pocket.’
In response, Mr Morrison said: ‘I’m very pleased to keep working with the Andrews government on projects like our $5 billion commitment to the Tulla Rail.
‘I would politely suggest that Premier Andrews let (federal Labor leader) Bill Shorten fight his own political battles.’
Mr Andrews called for the cash to flow for infrastructure ahead of the Council of Australian Governments meeting on the topic of population growth on Wednesday.
He lamented that Victoria had only received 10 per cent in infrastructure funding, despite having a quarter of the Australian population, and wanted more than a 25 per cent.
Mr Andrews has previously been at odds with the then prime minister Tony Abbott who would only let the cash flow for the specific project while the next leader, Malcolm Turnbull had agreed to redirect $1.5 billion for the East West Link to other projects.
In this year’s federal government budget $7.8 billion was allocated to Victoria for infrastructure.
With other road projects on the go, Mr Andrews would be happy to use the $3 billion on any other projects Mr Morrison would be inclined to unlock the cash for.
The state Labor government in 2014 ripped up the East West Link contract, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion.
The verbal spray came as Mr Andrews inspected a steel shed in Yarraville built to process thousands of tonnes of dirt and rock to be excavated during the works on another project, the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel.
Mr Andrews and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan announced a tunnel boring machine weighing 4000 tonnes and is 90m long will arrive in Australia next year, with the another to join soon after.
The giant machines will be used to bore the tunnel, which due to open in 2022.