Roads | May 18, 2021

More rail freight scheme funding cuts

The Andrews Labor Government has again taken the razor to the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS), meaning more trucks on crumbling country roads and the suburban streets around the Port of Melbourne.

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy said the Minister for Ports and Freight snuck out an announcement last Friday evening saying that Labor had extended the program for another year with a $3.6 million investment.

But Ms Kealy said the funding announcement was a 10 per cent cut on last year’s funding of $4 million, adding further to the $3 million the Andrews Labor Government has already cut from the program.

“This program allows regional rail freight operators to offer competitive transport options for exporters, encouraging them to use rail instead of road transport to get their goods to the Port of Melbourne,” Ms Kealy said.

“The MSIS was established by the former Liberal Nationals Government in 2014 and provided $5 million a year over four years to encourage more containerised freight onto rail,” Ms Kealy said.

“Since 2018 however, Labor has cut $3.4 million of funding from the MSIS and is relying on a year-to-year funding model.

“This is just another example of how wrong Labor’s priorities are when they are shifting more freight off rail and onto our already dangerous roads.

“I am aware of at least one large export company who has made the decision to move their freight by truck due to Labor’s funding cuts to the scheme.

“This decision alone has put an additional 3000 trucks per year on our roads through Horsham and onto the Western Highway to Melbourne.

“The Andrews Labor Government says it’s committed to moving more freight by rail and taking trucks off roads, but by continually cutting the MSIS it is doing the exact opposite. 

“As more people leave Melbourne after continued lockdowns, our crumbling road network is only going to deteriorate further.

“If Labor is really serious about moving more freight by rail it would be increasing funding for this program, giving it long term security and freight operators the confidence to lock into ongoing contracts.”

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