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The Ellenbrook rail line will go down in history as one of WA's biggest political footballs, with residents of the north-eastern suburb surely among the least trusting of politicians in the state.
The on-again, off-again rail link has been a flashpoint of political debate at various times since 2008.
It all began almost 10 years ago when the Labor Premier Alan Carpenter promised it during an election campaign, in a move that was quickly matched by the opposition leader at the time, Colin Barnett.
The Liberals won that election but never delivered on the promise, with Mr Barnett later claiming rail to Ellenbrook wasn't yet needed.
"When we came into government, we anticipated that work would have been done on that rail line — no work had been done at all," Mr Barnett said.
Ellenbrook rail flared again as an issue at the 2013 election when Labor again promised it, this time as part of its centrepiece Metronet project.
The pledge again caused political pain for Mr Barnett by sparking further scrutiny of his broken 2008 promise.
In the ensuing years Ellenbrook residents have endured promises of delivery in a second term, a subsequent swift backtrack on that and even pledges from the Liberals of a new rapid bus transit line to the suburb as a substitute for rail — another promise that was never delivered.
The Liberals' all-talk-no-action approach to transport solutions for Ellenbrook, particularly the broken promises, was a festering sore for the party during the more than eight years it was in government.
It was a wound Labor capitalised on, securing much media attention and delivering many political points along the way.
Residents breathe premature sigh of reliefRoll on to the March 2017 election, and no doubt following Labor's emphatic victory the people of Ellenbrook would have thought they could breathe a sigh of relief.
Finally their long-awaited rail line would be built by 2022, with construction starting in 2019, according to Labor's election commitment.
But the promise, at least at this stage, appears to be on shaky ground with last week's state budget failing to include any money to build it.
The only allocation in the budget for the Ellenbrook train line was money to plan and develop a business case.
But Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, whose career has received many a boost from the stoush over the Ellenbrook line, insists the decision not to allocate any money for the line's construction, will not leave the residents let-down again.
Mrs Saffioti is adamant the project will not be delayed and funding for construction will be included in future budgets.
"We are in the process of planning for that project," she said. "And in that process we are going from scratch on the Ellenbrook rail line because the Liberal Party did nothing for eight and a half years."
Now that sounds like a familiar argument.
Indeed, it's eerily similar to Mr Barnett's "no work had been done" line, and residents would be forgiven for thinking it sounds more like "the dog ate my homework" excuse.
Shadow Transport Minister kicks own goalMrs Saffioti and the Treasurer Ben Wyatt are arguing the Federal Government should chip in 80 per cent of the $863 million price tag, but whether that happens remains to be seen.
How a stroppy steer rescued Labor
As the lack of funding for Ellenbrook train line in this year's budget was scrutinised at WA Parliament this week it made for some bizarre scenes.
The Shadow Transport Minister Liza Harvey, who some have described as missing in action since the Liberals' landslide election loss, chose the Ellenbrook rail issue to finally ask her first question without notice of Transport Minister Rita Saffioti since parliament resumed four months ago.
As political strategy goes it appeared a naive approach.
That's not just because everyone would have rightly expected the Opposition's first priority in Wednesday's question time to be on the bigger and more immediate headache then facing the Government — the release of a dangerous child sex offender known as DAL.
Many in Government also saw Mrs Harvey's question as a gift, likening it to a "Dorothy Dixer" because it enabled Mrs Saffioti to drag up the Liberals' full history of broken promises to the people of Ellenbrook.
"It is good that the campaigning rock star from the election can stand and ask a question," Mrs Saffioti said.
The comment is clearly a dig at the fact it's taken Mrs Harvey so long to ask her a question, but also the fact the Deputy Liberal Leader's kept a noticeably lower profile since the state poll.
The Liberals, including Federal MP and Social Services Minister Christian Porter, have been quick to label the lack of funding for the Ellenbrook line in the state budget "a broken promise."
Not a complete let-down, but not a good lookMr Porter's even set up a petition to pressure Labor to keep its promise, but the Liberals record of breaking promises to the people of Ellenbrook makes the situation almost farcical.
The lack of funding in the budget for the rail project isn't yet a clear cut broken promise, but it certainly isn't a good look for the Government.
It will be under significant pressure to deliver more for the line in next year's budget if it truly wants people to believe it will be delivered by 2022.
For almost a decade politicians have been creating false hope for Ellenbrook residents, and the train line has been a political football for too long.
It's time both major parties at a state and federal level joined forces to kick a goal and just get it delivered.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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