Treasury has costed Labor’s Metronet rail plan at $5.246 billion, more than $1 billion less than the Liberal Party had previously claimed and $1.446 billion more than the Opposition's previous price tag.
The escalated figure includes inflation to 2021.
Labor had previously put the cost of the rail plan at $3.8 billion. The Liberal Party, which relied on Public Transport Authority costings produced before the caretaker period began on February 6, had claimed the plan would cost $6.389 billion.
Treasury says the $5.246 billion, estimated at $4.335b in 2012 dollars, includes an estimated $1.446 billion for the airport rail line and $1.277 billion for the Ellenbrook line.
Treasury has also estimated $842 million for the opposition's proposed North Circle and $730 million for additional rail cars and a depot.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Treasurer Troy Buswell had egg on his face.
Labor says the main difference between its estimate and treasury’s relates to the rail line to the airport, which the Opposition has put at $700 million.
Under the plan, rail links will run to Perth’s outer suburbs to ease congestion across the city.
Addressing the discrepancy in the treasury costings and his party’s own estimates of the cost of building Metronet, Mr Buswell said Labor’s planned budget is inadequate because it does not allow for a necessary duplication of the Midland rail line between Bayswater and Perth.
Pointing to treasury commentary that running 18 trains per hour on the Midland line would reduce reliability and safety, Mr Buswell said Labor’s plan should now be renamed.
“This is not Metronet. This is Metronot, because it is not funded, not costed, not reliable and not safe,” Mr Buswell said.
Meanwhile, Mr Buswell has admitted that more than 50 per cent of the capital cost of the Liberal Party’s big three election transport promises – the MAX light rail, the airport rail link and the Perth-Darwin Highway – will need to be funded by the Federal Government.
Mr Buswell made the admission this morning as he called on the Labor Party to submit its full suite of election commitments to Treasury for costing – but declined to make the same demand of the Liberals’ partner in government, the Nationals.
“They have made massive promises around billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer funded projects,” Mr Buswell said of Labor. “Their approach potentially could change the direction of state finances and our state. Those costings should be subject to independent and thorough analysis.”
A Labor Party spokesman said Labor was having its policies costed by a private accounting firm and it would then submit its financial plan to Treasury by the Monday 5pm deadline to be costed.
The spokesman said this was an “unprecedented” level of scrutiny for an Opposition and exceeded the Liberal Party’s approach in 2005 and 2008, when they submitted costings to a private accounting firm only.
The Liberals are set to submit each of their policy commitments to Treasury this afternoon. Treasury will release its opinion of the Liberals’ financial plan on Thursday.
Mr Buswell said he was confident the Liberals’ sums added up but he claimed he was not responsible for the Nationals election commitments – which amount to more than $650 million including a $300 million agriculture policy – despite the fact Premier Colin Barnett has said the Liberals would continue to govern with the country conservatives after the election.
“I am responsible for the Liberal Party costings and that’s what I deal with. The National Party have made, no doubt, commitments in and of their own right, largely funded, as I would imagine, from Royalties for Regions,” Mr Buswell said.
“I suspect what we will do is exactly what we did when we formed Government in 2008 with the Nationals, and that is post-election, we will sit down and understand how we can combine those two sets of commitments.”
A Nationals party spokeswoman today refused to commit to submitting the party’s plans to Treasury, saying that the party would make a statement about the issue on Monday.
Asked how much Federal money would be needed to fund his big three transport projects, Mr Buswell said: “I would be looking to the Commonwealth to fund at least half of each of those projects.”
Asked if that was realistic, Mr Buswell pointed to Commonwealth investment in major projects including the Gateway airport roads, Great Eastern Highway upgrade, Kwinana Freeway and light rail on the Gold Coast.
“I would anticipate that the Commonwealth would assist. If that doesn’t happen, then that is an issue we will deal with at that time,” he said.
Mr Buswell said he had not discussed funding proposals with Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott or Federal Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey.
A spokesman for Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese earlier this week told thewest.com.au that funding requests would be weighed against other infrastructure priorities in WA.
A spokesman for Mr Hockey said questions should be directed to the coalition’s shadow transport minister, Nationals leader Warren Truss.
Mr Abbott has spoken this week, in the context of questions about more funding for universities, of a “constrained budget environment”.
Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said the revelations meant the Liberals’ transport commitments were “empty promises” and called on the National Party commitments to be costed by Treasury.
“It casts serious doubt over these major Liberal Party promises and highlights a massive black hole in their budget,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Premier Colin Barnett confirmed that the Liberal Party will form Government with the National Party even if his party wins a majority in Parliament.
“Both parties have been running around WA making billions of dollars worth of promises. These are completely separate commitments, yet they are being funded from the same pot of money.“Given the Barnett Government's appalling record of breaking election commitments, it’s imperative that Western Australians are told the truth before, not after the election."
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