The release of Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List this year for nation building projects has revealed a significant investment in New South Wales as opposed to other states, including Victoria.
The Top 100 priority list highlights that over a third of all major infrastructure projects are located in NSW and of the seven high priority projects named with full business cases, three of these are located in Sydney. These high profile projects include upgrades to the M4 motorway, the planned Western Sydney airport in Badgerys Creek, and the heavily-lauded WestConnex road project.
However, whilst over a third of the projects on the Top 100 priority list are in NSW, only fifteen projects have been named in Victoria with other states and territories like the ACT only having two projects on the list. The list is now being widely criticised for a seeming bias towards NSW- and Sydney-based projects
Although Sydney has a population of more than 5 million, Melbourne is gradually catching up with their population, increasing by 2.4 per cent in 2015-16. This rapid population growth in urban areas requires significant investment in infrastructure and Melbourne’s population now stands at more than 4.6 million which brings it nearly on par with Sydney.
Victoria only had two high priority projects named in Infrastructure Australia’s list including the Melbourne Metro Rail project and the M80 Ring Road upgrade. Both projects are vital to cope with Victoria’s rapidly growing population and Melbourne Metro Rail project will connect 39,000 Victorians between South Yarra and South Kensington.
Local resident, Amanda Chan, said that, “the (Melbourne) Metro project is necessary and I’m really looking forward to its completion. I’m finding it more and more difficult to get into work in South Yarra and I do think the Federal Government’s investment in this project will mean that it will run on time and arrive as planned.”
In response to criticism that Infrastructure Australia’s list is too Sydney-centric, the organisation’s executive director of policy, Adrian Dwyer, has described the lack of investment in Melbourne as result of Victoria being previously well-managed in terms of infrastructure development. Dwyer commented that NSW has a “big backlog of infrastructure projects that’s really come through in the process of developing business cases.”
The lack of funds allocated to Victoria by the Federal Government has been a point of contention for the Victorian State Government. The most recent Federal Budget saw Victoria receive less than 8 per cent of federal infrastructure funding despite the state having approximately a quarter of Australia’s population.
“We (the Victorian Government) have a list a mile long of infrastructure projects that stack up, that support a growing population, that are supporting Melbourne and Victoria's transport need,” Victoria's Major Projects and Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, said. Her primary concern? That Victoria is being restricted by the “brick wall of Canberra.”