Sunday, March 02, 2008


Iemma after hand-outs from Rudd Government

Heath Gilmore, Sun Herald

March 2, 2008

PREMIER Morris Iemma will ask for billions of dollars from the Rudd Government to help jump-start stalled projects, including linking the M4 Motorway to Parramatta Road and the City West corridor.

Mr Iemma's wish list - the M4 East and associated projects, F3-M7 connection, Moorebank freight terminal and Southern Sydney Freight Line - will soon be presented to the new Infrastructure Australia group.

Last week federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said that Sir Rod Eddington will head the new 12-member group, made up of state and federal government representatives and business leaders.

The group will compile a hit list of infrastructure projects covering transport, water, communication and energy within 12 months. It will also advise the Rudd Government of public and private funding priorities.

High on the list is the completion of a four-lane motorway linking Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Yesterday Mr Iemma said he would push for the M4 East and associated public transport initiatives to relieve the problem of urban congestion.

He made the renewed bid for the M4 East while touting Sydney Water managing director Kerry Schott and infrastructure expert Bob Leece as being worthy of positions on the Eddington group.

"Forecasts for Sydney's future growth show the corridors from the CBD and Macquarie Park to the airport and Port Botany will experience amongst the highest population and employment growth," Mr Iemma said.

"An M4 East would complete the missing link between the current M4 and the Sydney CBD, and open up western Sydney to the east and south east with links to Sydney airport and Port Botany.

"This project would address the forecasts of Sydney's future growth, [the] problem of congestion and get the heavy trucks off our local and arterial roads."

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said the NSW Labor Government had neglected the state's infrastructure.

"Over 13 years Labor has allowed the state's infrastructure to run down, everything from schools, hospitals to public transport," he said. "Not a single major public transport project is running on time or on budget. That's why we've announced the establishment of a single Transport Co-ordination Authority to better manage infrastructure delivery in that portfolio."

Federal and state government officials will meet in Brisbane on Thursday to work on a national audit of major infrastructure that Sir Rod will use to prioritise projects.

Mr Albanese said strategic investment was required to overcome the infrastructure backlog in the areas of land, transport, water, communication and energy, estimated to be worth $25billion.

The chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation, David Elliott, said NSW "needs to forget about the nocturnal activities of Wollongong's political elite and focus on how we are going to stop Sydney being twinned with Port Moresby.

"The main challenge is to reassure investors that private-public partnerships are safe in this country, and the best way to do that is for the state to commit the proceeds from the sale of electricity to an infrastructure fund."