BUDGET 2015/16: Federal Govt has sights set on ARTC
It was rumoured to be included in the Federal Budget, and it was – the Government is looking to privatise the ARTC.
Hidden among the budget detail is a plan for a ‘scoping study’ to be conducted on the ARTC. Specifically it says:
“The Government will undertake a scoping study in 2015‑16 on options for the future management, operations and ownership of the Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd. The cost of the scoping study will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Finance.
This measure is part of the fourth phase of the Smaller Government reforms which reduce the size and complexity of government.
The Smaller Government reforms are eliminating duplication and waste, streamlining services and reducing the cost of government administration.”
What that really means is that the Abbott Government wants to sell off the ARTC, but it wants conduct a study first to try and justify the move.
The RTBU has some very serious concerns about the privatisation of the ARTC. It’s an important national asset with no natural competitors in the industry and it is returning good dividends for taxpayers. And with the forecast for rail freight looking rosy, that it only set to increase.
Why would the government want to sell such an important asset at a time when the budget is in structural deficit? Especially when you take into account that last year the ARTC brought in $773m in revenue and $164m in after-tax profit. Go figure.
The Federal Budget was also a disappointment in terms of infrastructure funding, with no new funding for public transport initiatives, including no mention of a rail line to the Badgerys Creek airport.
So much for the self-titled ‘infrastructure Prime Minister’.
You can see a full run down of what was in the Federal Budget here on the ACTU’s Working Life.