View Comments

In the first real surprise of the State election campaign, the Liberal Government has indicated a light rail system for Perth may not be a key feature of its bid to remain in power.

Treasurer Troy Buswell has again refused to reveal the estimated cost of the State Government’s light rail plan.

He said the Liberals hadn’t yet officially started their campaign for the March 9 election.

WA Labor got the jump on January 28 when it announced its Metronet plan.

Mr Buswell has defended the State government for providing a cost estimate for Labor’s Metronet plan - saying it would cost about twice as much as Labor expects - while not giving a figure for its own light rail plan, which it has flagged for some time.

“There’s a long period in the election campaign. We’ll make a range of announcements and those announcements will all be costed,“ Mr Buswell said.

“I’m sure that if the light rail plan is part of our election package that we will be providing the costing for it.”

Asked if he meant to say “if“, Mr Buswell replied, “That’s what I said.”

Mr Buswell, who is also transport minister, made the comment while announcing plans to reduce congestion in Perth.

The State Government is about to “widen” the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel. It won’t change the parameters of the “Poly Pipe” as it is affectionately known but it will convert an emergency lane into a traffic lane.

The move defies one of 14 recent recommendations of Victorian Coroner Jennifer Coate that aims to prevent road accidents like the fatal Burnley Tunnel crash in Melbourne in 2007.

Mr Buswell also defended traffic snarls likely to stem from other work to reduce road congestion, as well as the closure of Riverside Drive abutting the Swan River under the Government’s Elizabeth Quay inlet project, which is gathering pace.

“My view is that people understand that often there is a minor inconvenience while the roadworks happen for a much better long-term outcome,” he said.