State Budget 2006-2007: Building on the Boom - New MetroRail paid off in full.
Western Australians would soon be the proud owners of the nation's newest and best urban rail network - paid for in full by the $1.275billion State Budget surplus, Treasurer Eric Ripper announced today.
Mr Ripper said the Government's commitment to building on the State's economic boom meant the new MetroRail project, which included the Perth-to-Mandurah railway, would now be paid off 30 years ahead of schedule, saving WA approximately $75million a year in interest payments.
The Treasurer said the decision to clear the railway debt would deliver the State a vital piece of infrastructure that would last a hundred years or more.
"Perth's expanded rail network is the envy of traffic-choked cities around Australia and every inch of the new line will now be fully-owned by the people of WA," he said.
Mr Ripper said using the Budget surplus to pay off the MetroRail loan early meant the Government would save WA up to $1.3billion in dead interest repayments over the life of the old loan.
"The decision means the Government will have reduced the level of debt on the public sector balance sheet by about $2.3billion in the last three years," he said.
"That means that from 2007-08 we will save about $145million a year of taxpayers' money in interest payments alone. That money can now be pumped back into our economy to help deliver other important works and services all over the State."
The total remaining debt for the project is $1.3billion, with $913million currently outstanding and a further $362million due to be drawn down this financial year.
Mr Ripper said the Labor Government had proved it not only had the vision to plan and manage a massive and effective infrastructure project, but also the economic credentials to pay it off ahead of schedule.
"Unlike Liberal Governments which sell-off our prized assets for short-term gain and long-term pain, we see infrastructure as vital for our continuing economic growth," he said.
"This is a world-class rail system that will be a major asset to our State now and into the distant future."
The new MetroRail project will effectively double Transperth's rail network, linking the northern suburbs railway from Clarkson - also built by a Labor Government - to the southern suburbs railway and giving the city a rapid-transport spine.
The new line will also give 450,000 residents in Perth's booming southern corridor a fast, safe, reliable and environmentally friendly transit system direct to the heart of the city.
"All of us benefit from this type of infrastructure, because it reduces pollution and fuel consumption, helps lower the road toll taking pressure off the health system, protects our environment and saves commuters precious time," Mr Ripper said.
"Building and running world-class public transport systems such as this are also one of the best ways to help beat rapidly-rising world oil prices."