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A senior Victorian bureaucrat says it will be a "tough ask" squeezing funding out of the commonwealth for a major state rail project, suggesting pork barrelling will determine the carve-up of infrastructure money.
The Victorian government is seeking $130 million through Infrastructure Australia for preliminary works to develop a new Melbourne metropolitan rail tunnel.
Infrastructure Australia this month included stage one of the north-south rail link in its top five list of shovel-ready priority projects.
But Michael Hopkins, executive director of policy and communication at the Department of Transport, said securing federal funding was a "really tough call".
Asked at an infrastructure conference in Melbourne about the chances of the commonwealth coming good with the funding, Mr Hopkins said: "I think it's a big ask in the lead-up to the federal election, absolutely.
"It's going to be a really tough call.
"If I was the commonwealth government ... I would be spending money where I could buy the most seats."
Mr Hopkins said Victoria had previously done very well in securing $3.8 billion for the regional rail link.
Earlier, Victorian assistant treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips told the Victorian Infrastructure Summit that federal government funding through the GST had been slashed by more than $6 billion and private investment for infrastructure projects in the non-mining sector had waned.
Stage one of the proposed $5 billion rail project involves building a nine kilometre tunnel through the heart of Melbourne, linking northern and southern rail networks, and building five new underground stations.
This article first appeared on news.ninemsn.com.au
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