As the IMF predicts oil prices will double over the next decade, the ongoing failure to fix years of under-investment in public transport has left Australians extremely vulnerable to rising fuel prices, the Greens warned today.
Greens transport spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said Commonwealth infrastructure funds are still pouring into road building while public transport lags far behind, despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund and the Government's own BITRE 117 report that the price of oil is set to skyrocket.
"In ‘The Future of Oil: Geology versus Technology', IMF analysts warned of crashing through a ‘pain barrier' as the price of oil doubles in inflation-adjusted terms over the next decade. In 2009 the Government was warned by its own BITRE 117 Report that conventional oil production would decline after 2017, yet funding continues to be skewed towards oil-dependent infrastructure.
"The 2011/2012 budget committed five times as much funding to roads than to rail. In the 2012/2013 budget it is twelve times as much funding for roads than rail.
"The Government has made a start - the National Urban Policy looks good on paper, and the High Speed Rail agenda is progressing, but it is impossible to detect any sense of urgency. Australia is sleep-walking into an oil shock.
"In his budget reply speech, Tony Abbott proposed to destroy the National Broadband Network and instead spend $40 billion on freeways. This is infrastructure illiteracy on an epic scale.
"The COAG reform council's findings last month were a graphic confirmation that Australian cities are buckling under growing road congestion and unregulated growth, but neither major party is serious about tackling this problem. We need to get commuters and freight off roads and onto rail, yet Labor's thinking seems stuck in bitumen and the Coalition only seems capable of describing what it will wreck, not what it will build."