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Bill Shorten will use the largest federal funding injection in public transport history to turbocharge the crucial final days of the election campaign, in a $10 billion promise designed to help snatch up to half a dozen seats from the Morrison government in Victoria.
The Labor leader will attempt to overshadow Prime Minister Scott Morrison's official campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday by pledging to part-fund the massive $50 billion, 90-kilometre suburban rail loop that helped Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews win last year's state election.
"Dan Andrews and all Victorians need a partner in Canberra and that’s what I’ll be," Mr Shorten said.
"The suburban rail loop will be a game changer for Australia’s fastest-growing city. It means faster travel times and more jobs for Victorians."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Senator Kristina Keneally during a visit to Guide Dogs Victoria in Melbourne on Saturday.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN
Victoria is crucial to the May 18 election, with up to six Liberal Party seats at risk of falling to Labor. Internal polling from both major parties shows the swing against the government is larger in inner-Melbourne than other key states like Queensland and NSW.
Mr Shorten's vow to contribute $10 billion towards the suburban rail loop - a massive tunnel that would link every major rail line in Melbourne as well as the new airport rail link - comes with two caveats: the money will only flow when construction commences in 2021, and it would be spent over 15 years.
"I know it’s a big project, it’s a lot of money, but this is what you can do when you close loopholes for the top end of town and make multinationals pay their fair share," the Labor leader said.
The cash is on top of federal Labor's pledge to spend $5 billion on the airport rail link and $2 billion to help deliver the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.
The party is now going to next Saturday's election promising at least $18.4 billion towards transport projects in and around Melbourne.
Mr Morrison has promised $2 billion towards a high-speed rail line linking Melbourne and Geelong and has signed an agreement with Victoria to also provide $5 billion towards the airport rail link.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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