Australian Greens Climate and Energy Spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, and Greens Candidate for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, today announced the Greens' Roads to Rails policy which would turn around Australia's transport strategy, prioritising funding for mass transit over more road funding.
Senator Milne said "In a world where climate change, oil depletion and traffic congestion are swiftly coming to a crunch, with global oil prices hitting $100 a barrel, it is absolutely vital that we move urgently to turn around Australia's transport strategy from a focus on roads to a focus on fast, efficient mass transit.
"Both the old parties are completely failing to face up to this challenge. If it's not enough that they talk of reducing greenhouse emissions while opening new coal mines, they also wring their hands about $100 a barrel oil prices while throwing billions of dollars at new roads.
"The Greens are rising to the challenge, proposing a raft of policies to move Australia to less polluting and oil-reliant alternatives. Earlier in the campaign, we announced our alternative fuels targets and our Better Cars policies to make Australia's cars much more fuel efficient.
"Today, with Roads to Rails, we are calling for a fundamental shift in thinking with our transport strategy that we should see greater funding for fast, efficient mass transit and for rail and shipping freight than for roads and private transport. From 2009-14, we would see 25% of the $22.3 billion AusLink 2 transport funding allocated to mass transit, lifting to above 50% beyond 2014. Only then will Government priorities begin reflect the need to deal with climate change, oil depletion and congestion."
Mr Bandt said "Roads to Rails would see the Commonwealth Government, with matching State and Territory funding, supporting projects like a train line along the Eastern Freeway and out to East Doncaster in Melbourne. The State Government's proposed multi-billion dollar East-West tunnel under Melbourne will only increase greenhouse emissions at a time when they must be reduced. The Doncaster rail option makes much more sense because most of the traffic comes into town and does not need to cross it.
"In the Sydney area, it could see Federal funding helping to make the long-promised Strathfield-Hornsby rail link a reality and fund mass transit busways in Western Sydney.
"These projects will significantly reduce greenhouse emissions and increase energy security.
Senator Milne said "The Howard Government has let Australia down badly by trusting the analysis of its disgraced forecaster, ABARE, that oil prices will always remain around $40 a barrel. Their refusal to accept the geopolitics of oil, and the reality that oil prices will keep trending upwards thanks to oil depletion, will hit every Australian in the hip pocket.
"No government can claim to be a good economic manager while ignoring this issue and running up an ever increasing trade deficit on oil, which the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association projects will reach $20 bn a year within ten years.
"The Government and Opposition are promoting policies that will make the problem worse by locking us in to more roads, artificially cheaper fuel and even more polluting alternatives like coal-to-liquids. Only with the Greens in balance of power in the Senate will we see Australia preparing to oil proof Australia."
Roads to Rails can be downloaded here.