The Federal Budget's failure to address years of under-investment in public transport infrastructure has left the country extremely vulnerable to rising oil prices, the Australian Greens warned today.
In Senate Budget Estimates committee hearings this week, Greens spokesperson for transport Senator Scott Ludlam confirmed that once again, Commonwealth infrastructure funds were pouring into urban road building while public transport funding lagged far behind.
"This budget commits five times as much funding to roads than to rail. Virtually nothing has been committed to cycling infrastructure, and with the Energy White Paper still a long way over the horizon, our country is sleepwalking in the age of peak oil."
Senator Ludlam asked representatives if the Department understood peak oil and was essentially told the Government believes ‘the jury is out' on the phenomenon.
"The lack of foresight is stunning. All credible sources indicate we hit global peak oil in 2006. The age of cheap oil is over. I've been using successive budget estimates hearings to try and detect any sense of urgency, without success so far."
"Electric rail, for both commuters and freight, can be powered by renewable energy. In China the government is rapidly expanding a network of high-speed rail powered by electricity and presiding over one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sectors in the world, while our government is pouring money into obsolete oil-dependent infrastructure. As the price of oil rises, and with Australia set to import 70% of its oil by 2015, the long-term economic consequences will be grave."
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302