Despite the spin, rail freight movements cut in half under Labor

The Andrews Labor Government’s funding cuts and bungled projects are making rail freight a less attractive option and forcing more trucks on crumbling country roads and congested suburban streets. 

The ACCC Container Stevedoring Monitoring report 2019-20 shows a 50 per cent decline in freight being moved by rail in and out of the Port of Melbourne since the Andrews Labor Government came to office – despite Labor saying ad-nauseum it’s moving more freight by rail and taking trucks off roads.

In Public Accounts and Estimates Hearings on Thursday, Labor’s hapless Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne couldn’t explain why rail freight movements had dropped.

She also couldn’t explain why the Andrews Labor Government had cut 10 per cent of funding for the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme, a program aimed at moving more freight by rail but bizarrely attempted to blame it as a reason for making cuts.

Labor’s track record when it comes to rail freight is abysmal – it has cut year-on-year funding to the MSIS, botched the Murray Basin Rail Project and hasn’t laid a metre of rail on the Port Rail Shuttle – a project that’s been on the books since 2014.

Melissa Horne can talk all she wants about Labor’s strategy and how it’s putting more freight on rail – but the evidence shows it’s all spin and no substance. 

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Ports and Freight, Roma Britnell:

“In 2020 Melissa Horne said Labor’s freight strategy was “making rail freight a more attractive option for businesses”.

“But because of Labor’s funding cuts, project bungles and inaction on key initiatives – exporters are turning away from rail freight, meaning more trucks on country roads that are falling apart and already congested suburban streets in the Minister’s own electorate.

“When it comes to rail freight, the evidence shows the only thing Labor is doing is coming up with one liners and spin.” 

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