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The Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says he expects urban rail to be a key issue for West Australian voters at the coming federal election.
Mr Albanese today helped to open the latest stage of the Perth City Link project, which is jointly funded by the State and Federal Governments.
He used the event to attack the Coalition Leader Tony Abbott's preference for funding roads, instead of rail.
He says a Coalition Government would do nothing to support future rail projects in WA.
"Tony Abbott has made it very clear there will not be one cent for urban public transport if he is elected to office," Mr Albanese said.
"That means this project would not have gone ahead under the Coalition, and it means future projects will not receive Commonwealth support, be they heavy or light rail, here in Perth.
"Our cities are caught up in urban congestion, and the quality of life for Australians requires the Federal Government to work in cooperation with state and territory governments to deliver projects this one.
"(That will be) one of the big distinctions at the coming federal election."
Mr Albanese says Labor has allocated $500 million for urban transport initiatives and is waiting to see a detailed funding submission from WA.
The WA Transport Minister Troy Buswell has acknowledged the City Link project would not have gone ahead without financial support from the Commonwealth.
But he has played down the potential impact of a Coalition Government on the MAX light rail and airport heavy rail projects.
"The light rail project is going to happen (but) the exact funding mix is yet to be determined," Mr Buswell said.
"If there is less federal funding for the light rail project potentially and more for a road project somewhere else, as far as I'm concerned that doesn't change the totality of the mix.
"And I think for a person who ultimately gets to use that light rail, they don't really care."
He says the first stage of a federal funding submission for the light rail project should be ready in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transport is currently consulting business and community on three short-listed CBD routes and will shortly make a recommendation to Government on which one it favours for the planned light rail.
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has previously indicated her preference for it to run down St Georges and Adelaide Terraces because she thinks Hay Street Mall is too narrow.
But Mr Buswell says he is not going to let the City of Perth "highjack" the process.
"Well I'm not really interested in the City of Perth's position to be frank, the City of Perth have a very clear objective and that is to have no cars in the city of Perth. I think it's ridiculous," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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