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PREMIER Colin Barnett continues to push for commonwealth funding in the federal budget for WA rail plans, despite its historical backing of roads.
When asked what he hoped to see in next week's federal budget, Mr Barnett mainly nominated contributions for various CBD transport projects promised during the recent state election.
With a rebuild of WA's public hospital system now well under way, the focus had moved to transport infrastructure, Mr Barnett said.
"I would hope to see some commitment by the commonwealth on major projects,'' he said.
"This state is growing - we have a need for roadworks projects and we have a need for urban transport projects.
"There's an urgent need for metropolitan rail to the airport, the light rail project coming into the northern suburbs.''
Mr Barnett also nominated the Perth-to-Darwin highway, a major bypass to divert heavy traffic heading north away from the Swan Valley in the far northern suburbs.
During the election, WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the Liberals were unlikely to deliver the highway, given it expected most of the cost would be met by the federal government.
The party revealed during the campaign that it hoped the commonwealth would pay 80 per cent of the airport rail line costs and half of the funds needed for the MAX light rail project.
On Wednesday, Mr Barnett conceded the near $5-billion program of works was very ambitious.
He was thin on detail when asked what he didn't want to see in the federal budget.
"I'm hoping that we don't see any cuts of West Australian base programs,'' he replied.
When quizzed about a stoush within the state Liberal party that has received much local coverage, Mr Barnett brushed it aside, saying the biggest issue he faced was preparation for the budget in August.
He's bracing for a tough one, forecasted to show mounting debt and a wafer-thin surplus.
What Barnett wants
MAX light rail
Cost: $1.8 billion
Expected total commonwealth contribution: 50 per cent
Airport rail line
Cost: $1.895 billion
Expected total commonwealth contribution: 80 per cent
Cost: $830 million
Expected total commonwealth contribution: at least 50 per cent
This article first appeared on www.perthnow.com.au
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