Posted: 1:31 pm on 21st August 2013

Surely it’s one of Australia’s most pressing infrastructure problems.

Facing a budget black hole, with the 2012-13 deficit projected to be somewhere in the vicinity of $25 billion, and the 2013-24 deficit is projected to be around $20 billion, Australians could be forgiven for thinking the election would be a bit light on pork barrel promises.

But they would be wrong.

Amongst the various infrastructure promises made so far in the election, like the Liberal’s promise of $25 million to upgrade the Great Ocean Road, or Labor’s promise of $52 million to duplicate Newcastle’s Tourle Street Bridge, another important issue has snuck onto the agenda.

Puffing Billy.

WasteWatch forgives you if you haven’t ever heard of the ancient steam train, which is a tourist attraction in the Dandenong Ranges just outside of Melbourne.

Last week, the Rudd Government promised $3.1 million to help upgrade poor Puffing Billy.

Billy faces significant problems following heavy rains earlier this year, falling ticket revenue, and rising maintenance costs, and Mr Rudd’s gift comes on top of $4.4 million promised by the Victorian Government.

But this may be only the beginning.

The Emerald Tourist Railway Board, the statutory authority currently in charge of Puffing Billy, has apparently put forward a $25 million “grand plan” of upgrades and capital investment.

Why, that’s five times as much as Tony Abbott just committed to upgrading the Brisbane Broncos training ground!

An election light on pork barrel promises? Don’t make us laugh.

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