Thursday, 21 March 2024


Suburban Rail Loop

Suburban Rail Loop

Richard WELCH (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:08): (815) My adjournment is directed to the Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop in the other place. Fresh analysis from the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office has revealed that the cost of just two-thirds of the Suburban Rail Loop is now expected to reach a massive $216.7 billion. In 2018 Jacinta Allan, the now Premier, stated that the total cost of the entire SRL project would be just $50 billion. In 2022 the PBO estimated that the cost of constructing the SRL East and North would be $125 billion, with an additional $75 billion in operating costs. In its updated analysis the PBO identified a further $8.9 billion cost increase for the construction and a further $7.8 billion in an operating cost increase for the SRL East and North, bringing the total cost of just the airport to Cheltenham sections of the tunnels to $216 billion. These updated costings follow recent Victorian Auditor-General reports which confirmed that the main works of the Box Hill to Cheltenham tunnels are expected to suffer up to a 20 per cent escalation.

Labor cannot manage money and it cannot manage projects, and every Victorian is paying the price. Labor’s mismanagement of major projects is driving up Victoria’s record debt, crowding out private sector construction and adding in inflationary pressures across the economy. It is a project that Victoria cannot afford. A Liberal government will pause and review this project and prioritise long overdue basic infrastructure in communities that have been neglected by Labor for decades.

Victorians deserve to know how much the tunnels from Box Hill to Cheltenham are costing – in a timely way – and why it is so much, because $16 billion is not pocket change. Sixteen billion dollars is why this state needs 53 new increased taxes, why we are about to face what is called a ‘horror budget’ and why small government grants and programs are being ripped out of communities because the government cannot dig a few tunnels on budget. What I ask of the minister is to confirm in writing what reporting he is receiving – broken down in categories of budget, scope change, project progress against planned milestones, risk reporting and changes to the project – and to confirm that he is receiving this information in an actionable form in a regular and timely manner appropriate to a project of this scale, which has been historically subject to significant cost blowouts.