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A multibillion-dollar proposal from a superannuation consortium to build Melbourne's airport rail link is likely to be rejected despite Treasurer Josh Frydenberg calling for retirement funds to back infrastructure projects to generate jobs.
A proposal from a private consortium including IFM Investors, Melbourne Airport, Metro Trains Australia and Southern Cross Station to build the rail link using a seven kilometre tunnel is expected to be rejected by the Victorian and federal government in favour of a cheaper option. Both the state and federal government are providing $5 billion each for the project, and IFM has offered $7 billion as part of its proposal.
The Morrison government was supportive of the consortium's airport rail tunnel while the Andrews government has not ruled out the option. CREDIT:AAP
The Morrison government in November was supportive of the consortium's airport rail tunnel while the Andrews government has not ruled out the option. But a Victorian government source confirmed the state would prefer to have greater control of a less costly airport link involving the suburban rail network and connecting with the existing Metro Tunnel project.
Victorian transport minister Jacinta Allan is, according to industry sources, frustrated with cost blowouts and legal action associated with other projects managed by some private investors. A months-long dispute between toll road giant Transurban, its builders and the state government over the West Gate Tunnel project has resulted in legal action this year.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said he was prepared to sign another agreement with China on its controversial $1.5 trillion global Belt and Road infrastructure program, saying he wanted his government’s ties with Beijing to grow "even stronger".
This week Mr Frydenberg urged industry and retail funds in the $2.7 trillion superannuation industry to work "on domestic infrastructure assets more than they have been" to boost domestic investment and employment.
IFM manages about $150 billion, including $70 billion in infrastructure, on behalf of more than 20 super funds including more than 10 industry funds. In November, the group said it planned to spend $25 billion on major infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.
The AirRail consortium estimates that building the tunnel option stretching between the Melbourne CBD and Sunshine would create 13,000 jobs.
"IFM Investors welcomes the comments by the Treasurer and we stand ready to invest in nation-building infrastructure to help the Australian economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, create local jobs, and generate long-term value for our investors," a spokesman said.
Super funds have supported Mr Frydenberg's call for more infrastructure investment, but said the government needed to provide more policy stability in order to back long-term investments.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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