Labor-held seats attracted 26 projects worth a combined $954 million, the seat of Melbourne held by Greens leader Adam Bandt was promised one project worth $5 million, while the independent seat of Clark in Tasmania was also promised a single project worth $13.5 million.
Under the fund, 136 Liberal-held electorates were promised works worth a combined $2.7 billion.
While many of the projects include commuter car parks, there are also dozens worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. They include a $144 million commitment to a road project in the then-Liberal-held seat of Hasluck in WA and a $50 million pledge in the then-Liberal-held seat of Reid in Sydney.
Hill said the response by the department was damming.
“They ran a giant, stupendous, humongous, massive, colossal, vast, immense, mammoth, gigantic slush fund that treated taxpayers’ funds as Liberal election cash,” he told this masthead.
“Communities suffering from congestion are right to be angry that they didn’t have a chance to apply and that there was no transparency to this dodgy process.”
Opposition infrastructure spokeswoman Bridget McKenzie said the Albanese government had reviewed all Urban Congestion Fund projects ahead of the October budget last year.
“As a result of that review, the Labor government has decided to continue to deliver the bulk of the Urban Congestion Fund projects, which have been rebranded as part of the broader Infrastructure Investment program,” she said.
“In total, 107 Urban Congestion Fund projects worth $2.96 billion have been retained by Labor, including 60 projects that are in the ‘in planning’ stage and 47 projects that are in the ‘under construction’ or ‘underway’ stage at the time of the review.
“Of the 10 commuter carparks projects that are still in the planning stage, seven are in Labor electorates and four in Liberal electorates including one that is shared by two electorates.”
The details provided by the infrastucture department also reveal the inaccuracy of the original cost estimates used to budget projects inside the fund.
Of the more than 170 projects, there were funding variations in 96 of them.
In some cases, the original estimates proved far too low. An upgrade to the Leach Highway in the then Liberal-held seat of Swan in Western Australia was originally forecast to cost $46.5 billion. It is now estimated to cost $68 million.
In 2019, the then-government expected a road upgrade in Penrith in the Liberal-held seat of Lindsay to cost $63.5 million. It is now forecast to cost $127.7 million.
Some projects, promised in 2019, are not expected to be completed until 2026 or 2027.
On coming to office, the new government decided to axe 19 projects. The government had spent $61.8 million on these projects which were worth almost $600 million.
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