It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, a member of government trying to claim responsibility and kudos for funding made by the previous government, and member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson was caught out this weekend.

Henderson claimed that the Liberal government had provided $1.5 billion worth of funding for the Regional Rail Link Project in Victoria, which opened in June this year. While the funds were “provided” by the Abbott government, they were part of a $3.2 billion Labor government commitment. While Henderson was right that the government was honouring a previous commitment, it’s not like it enjoyed it — Abbott has long said he is against federal funding for public transport infrastructure.

As far as February 2013, when he was the federal opposition leader, Abbott said “the Commonwealth government has a long history of funding roads. We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it’s important that we stick to our knitting, and the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.”

The Prime Minister also held to the principle this year, saying that he would not support the Victorian Labor government’s plan to invest the federal money intended for the East West Link into the Melbourne Metro Rail project.

“We do not fund urban rail projects; we fund roads of national significance and we fund nationally significant freight rail projects but we don’t fund commuter rail.” He told Melbourne’s 3AW radios station.

So they won’t commit any money to rail projects, but will take the credit when they hand over the money of someone else’s promise.

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey