In 1863, the author Edward Everett Hale first coined the term ‘pork barrel’, a phrase now used to describe public spending aimed at winning the hearts, and voting preference, of the community.
We are now at the end of another election, and ‘bike barrelling’, one might say, was certainly on the agenda.
We counted just under $60 million in federal funding promises across the major political parties for bike-specific projects (i.e. excluding projects not tied to broader road projects).
It is now time to hold winning candidates accountable to their funding promises. Time to put the money where their mouth is.
Let’s break down what was promised by those that have taken federal seats…
Frankston Arts Trail (Victoria)
Funding amount: $2 million
Peta Murphy will retain the seat of Dunkley, which covers Frankston, Langwarrin, Seaford, Carrum Downs and Mount Eliza. Prior to 2019, the electorate had been a safe Liberal seat for over 20 years.
The big news for bikes in Dunkley is the Frankston Arts Trail, a bike and walking trail that will run from the Frankston foreshore all the way out to the Peninsula Trail in the west and will feature numerous art exhibits and installations.
Peta Murphy has pledged $2 million of federal funding to support the project.
Bicycle Network will be working closely with the local government to oversee the roll out of this exciting project.
Murray River Adventure Trail (Victoria)
Funding amount: $13.5 million
Candidate Anne Webster has retained her Mallee seat by a landslide. The electorate in rural NW Victoria includes the cities of Mildura, Horsham, Stawell and Maryborough – and includes the Murray River.
In April, Anne Webster announced the Murray River Adventure Trail, an exciting new project that will result in a continuous trail along the Murray from Red Cliffs to Yelta. The project will include paths for active recreation, including bike riding, and is tipped to enhance the liveability of Mildura.
The project is anticipated bring in up to $3 million for the local economies.
It is not clear in Anne Webster's media release if this commitment was contingent on the Coalition taking government. Suffice it to say, let's keep eyes and ears on this one.
Hartman Drive bike path (Western Australia)
Funding amount: $1.5 million
Tracey Roberts has become the first ALP candidate to take the seat of Pearce, previously held by the Libs.
In May, the Labor candidate pledged $1.5 million to fund a bike path along Hartman Drive in Wanneroo. The path will link with Gnangara Drive and Ocean Reef Road.
The funding promise coincides with $8 million in state funding for bike and walking paths across Western Australia. Sounds like the state’s new and existing bike riders are finally getting some support!
Monaro Rail Trail upgrade (New South Wales)
Funding amount: $1 million
Eden-Monaro in south-east NSW was a marginal seat in the 2022 election, and one that held a lot of promise for bikes. As we identified in our marginal electorates story, the region holds the 208km Monaro rail trail, an exciting prospect for active recreation and tourim.
ALP candidate Kristy McBain, having retained the seat, must come good on the announced $1 million for works on the Bombala to Jincumbilly section of the Monaro rail trail, which was promised close to election day.
Old Gympie Road upgrade (Queensland)
Funding amount: $11.8 million
Up in Queensland, Liberal candidate Terry Young looks set to take hold of Longman, a reasonably marginal seat covering areas between northern Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
Young’s campaign included a $11.8 million promise to upgrade Old Gympie Road in Dakabin. The project involves widening the road between Nellies Lane and Alma Road, but also on-road (hopefully protected) cycle lanes and ramps as well as improved pathways, landscaping and signalised pedestrian crossings.
Hill Road upgrade (Western Australia)
Funding amount: $7.5 million
Labor candidate Sally Sitou looks set to take the seat of Reid in Western Australia. It’s a seat that had been held safe for Labor since the 1970’s, until the Libs broke through in 2013.
Part of includes a commitment to upgrade Hill Road at Wentworth Point. Part of the project includes bike lanes
In a media release from The Hon Catherine King, now Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, says the project will “deliver more green public space, address flooding issues and make this thoroughfare safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers”.
Let’s hope they come good with this pledge.
Peninsula Link Trail (Victoria)
Funding amount: $5 million
One of the first bike promises in this year’s election was the Lib’s promise to fund the Peninsula Link Trail extension between Moorooduc and Mornington.
The announcement was attended by the Flinders Lib candidate, who said “Our Peninsula Trail should be what Cradle Mountain is to Tasmania – a vibrant internationally recognised tourism destination with world-class food, beverage, entertainment, cultural and accommodation offerings.”
Since 1984, the Flinders seat has been kept warm by the Liberal Party and it looks like Liberal candidate Zoe McKenzie will retain the seat. However, given that this funding promise was dependent on the Coalition taking government, it is uncertain if the Libs will withdraw their pledge, or if Zoe will power on with the promise and still deliver the Trail to the Flinders electorate. Time will tell.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.