Auditor to run the rule over $2.2b federal rail pledge

The Victorian government has shrugged off the threat of a probe into federal funding set aside for its contentious Suburban Rail Loop.

The federal auditor-general will review processes that preceded then-opposition leader Anthony Albanese's $2.2 billion pledge to the project before Labor won the 2022 federal election.

"The federal auditor-general will go through his appropriate processes," Premier Jacinta Allan told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

"I note that he's responding to correspondence from a Victorian senator (Bridget McKenzie) who when she had the opportunity to serve her state and nation, gave us nothing but rorts instead of sports."

Jacinta Allan
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan disagreed the audit may be a barrier to more federal funding.

Ms Allan said she was confident the Suburban Rail Loop Authority, the body responsible for planning and delivering the mega project, would co-operate with the federal review.

The entire 90km orbital rail line is designed to run from Cheltenham to Werribee via Melbourne Airport.

The state government has pledged $11.8 billion to build the $34.5 billion eastern section, with the remainder expected to come from federal funding and "value capture" revenue.

The premier pushed back on a suggestion the audit could be a barrier to the project attracting more federal funding.

"I will firmly disagree with you on that characterisation," Ms Allan said.

"We will continue to push on and deliver the Suburban Rail Loop."

A 400-page business and investment case released in 2021 showed the east and northeast sections could cost up to $50.5 billion.

In 2022, the state's independent Parliamentary Budget Office calculated the cost to build the first two sections at $125 billion.

Opposition transport infrastructure spokesman David Southwick said the looming audit cast serious doubt on whether Labor could fund the project and its final cost.

"The SRL is already facing multi-billion-dollar cost blowouts and delays before construction has even commenced," he said in a statement.

Senator McKenzie's office has been contacted for comment.

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