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Sydney Labor MP and shadow transport spokesman Anthony Albanese joined Melbourne MP Michael Danby to slam the Turnbull government for shortchanging Victoria on federal asset recycling funds, a theme Labor plans to ride to next year's Victorian election.
Mr Danby, Labor member for the inner bayside seat of Melbourne Ports, has been running press advertisements in The Australian Financial Review backing a campaign by Victoria's Andrews government for an extra $6.6 billion of infrastructure funding it says it would be entitled to under "a fair share" of asset recycling funds.
Mr Danby and the Andrews government blame Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott for Victoria being allocated less than 9 per cent of federal infrastructure from 2015 to 2020, funding despite having 25 per cent of the population and 37 per cent share of population growth.
"It's about time the Prime Minister understood that he has a national responsibility and that means not making funding decisions based on the way people vote in state elections," Mr Albanese said at a press conference at the site of the proposed Domain tram interchange in Melbourne.
Labor is attacking the Turnbull government in media advertisements for shortchanging Victoria on asset recycling infrastructure funding Supplied
"What that means is actually funding projects like Melbourne Metro here or Regional Rail in Victoria that has been proposed by the Andrews government or for that matter the Cross-River Rail in Brisbane."
Queensland's Palaszczuk Labor government also says it is being denied federal funding for Cross River Rail, a $5 billion rail tunnel linking Brisbane's south with the CBD, although Queensland receives a disproportionately high share of federal infrastructure funding.
Mr Danby said restoring Victoria's "fair share" of assets recycling funds "means a massive injection into Victorian infrastructure in next Tuesday night's (federal) budget" and that state Liberal leader Matthew Guy and unnamed Victorian federal Mps were "retreating under pressure" because they knew the state was being short changed.
The origins of the dispute lie in the Andrews government's 2014 decision to drop its predecessor's favoured East West Link road tunnel and the Abbott government's refusal to re-allocate the $1.5 billion of federal funding from East West Link to the new government's favoured $11 billion Metro Rail project.
Rugby league mad-Sydney Labor MP Anthony Albanese (R) at the 2014 AFL Grand Final with Andrew Barr (L), a self-described Hawthorn tragic, Hawthorn legend Robert Dipierdomenico and Labor MP Anthony Albanese. Andrew Barr/Supplied
Since then Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Treasurer Tim Pallas have argued that the federal coalition is ripping their state off, and publish tables in each budget showing other states led by NSW getting a higher share of federal infrastructure funds at Victoria's expense.
The latest bone of contention is a $1.45 billion regional rail upgrade which Mr Pallas says the federal government hasn't agreed to fund even though it was designed to appeal to regional coalition MPs including infrastructure minister Darren Chester.
Mr Pallas said last Tuesday that the $6.6 billion of additional infrastructure funding that Victoria claims is due under a fair share "is being denied this state simply because of purely partisan politics" and that "Tony Abbott wasn't this bad".
Other states are getting a larger share of federal infrastructure funding than their population shares at Victoria's expense Victorian Budget 2017-18; Budget Paper No. 2
This article first appeared on www.afr.com
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