May 10, 2017

Treasury gives budget warning on inland rail boondoggle

The government has been told its inland rail project will never make its money back, but has gone ahead and treated it as an investment anyway. So Treasury put a caveat in the budget.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

As Crikey anticipated yesterday, not merely did the government go big on the Train to Nowhere in the budget -- $8.4 billion over seven years -- but treated it as an equity injection, which means it is in the capital budget and doesn't affect the budget deficit.

That's $8.4 billion that could be spent on any number of both regional and urban infrastructure projects with higher -- in some cases much higher -- benefit:cost ratios than the lousy 1.1 that the government claims. When even the proponents of a project admit they can only dodgy up the numbers to get to just over breakeven, you know a project is a dud. Especially rail.

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