Why mega transport plan is under review

Premier Dan Andrews at the Westgate Tunnel construction site. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Josie Hayden

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has just three months to convince the federal government multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects across the state should continue to receive crucial funding.

The number of projects in Victoria’s infrastructure pipeline has blown out from 150 to almost 800, prompting a review by federal Infrastructure Minister and Transport Catherine King into spending.

Projects under review include the controversial Melbourne Airport Rail, the Geelong fast rail, the North East Link, two new intermodal terminals in Melbourne, and the Suburban Rail Loop Project.

The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at the Glen Waverley Priority Primary Care Centre. Picture: David Crosling

Ms King told The Age while “every dollar remains in the budget”, it would be irresponsible for the federal government to continue with projects without reprioritising the work and assessing whether projects could be delivered for the same price.

As a result, the Andrews government now has until August to convince experts three infrastructure experts that the projects remain a priority, having received billions of dollars from the former Coalition government.

Election commitments made by the Albanese government would not be included in the review, a government official confirmed to The Age.

Likewise, the official said any projects that were already under construction would also not be included in the review.

The new measures come as the Victorian government battles to secure funding for the 2026 Commonwealth Games amid a state deficit.

The sporting event is set to be held in five regional towns in Victoria.

Despite being a big draw card for Victoria, the event did not receive any funding in Tuesday’s 2023 federal budget.

While Canberra provided some funding guarantees, the budget noted financial implications of that support were “not quantifiable at this time”.

Victoria is forecast to record a $9.7bn deficit in 2022-23, while also attracting the second-largest intake of interstate migrants.

Transport Minister Catherine King during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Picture: Gary Ramage

Mr Andrews had become increasingly vocal that successive governments have disadvantaged the state in its share of GST.

Victoria’s GST allocation is project to reach $18.9bn in 2023-24, according to Tuesday’s budget.

A Treasury official told The age that figure represented a $1.1bn increase compared with the 2022-23 financial year.

Victoria is home to about 26 per cent of the population, but only receives about 21 per cent of the GST pool.