The fuel excise should be slashed to compensate for the Albanese government’s impending cuts to road and rail projects, Senator Matt Canavan says.

The call comes as Anthony Albanese comes under scrutiny for promising that Labor would upgrade the Frankston to Baxter rail line, which is set to be on the chopping block following the infrastructure review.

Senator Canavan said halving the fuel excise of 48.8c/litre for a year could save a family with at least one car $600.

“If the government simply returns the infrastructure cuts it has made to date, that would fund a halving of the fuel excise for the next year, with some change left over,” he said.

Labor is also being urged recommit to the Frankston to Baxter rail upgrade, after Mr Albanese committed to the “much-needed” work in July 2018 when he was opposition infrastructure spokesman.

“A federal Labor government will electrify and duplicate the track to Baxter, giving commuters better access to high quality public transport and park-and-ride options,” Mr Albanese’s press release states.

“In 2013, the incoming Coalition government cancelled all federal investment in public transport projects that were not already under construction because it does not understand the daily needs of Australians.”

But Infrastructure Minister Catherine King on Monday confirmed that while 300 projects under construction were safe, a further 250 projects in the planning phase were assessed under its 90-day infrastructure review.

Ms King said heavy rail was expensive and the Morrison government had not put enough money into the projects.

The Coalition committed $225m for the proposed duplication and electrification of 8km of the Stony Point rail line ahead of the 2019 election.

Ms King said the announcement had come as a surprise to the Victorian government, whose infrastructure body does not rate the project and believes bus upgrades across the Mornington Peninsula would be better.

Labor also matched the funding and pledged to fast-track the work, which a 2020 business case estimated would cost up to $1.5bn – before the Covid pandemic.

In the 2018 release, then Dunkley candidate Peta Murphy said: “Labor does not just talk about infrastructure projects, we deliver them”.

Ms Murphy on Thursday said she was awaiting the outcome of the review and would continue to work with Ms King, council and the state government on public transport options.

But Flinders MP Zoe McKenzie said Labor should work with the state government to see it completed.

“If the funding is cut, the money should be directed to other important projects on the Mornington Peninsula, such as upgrading the Rosebud Hospital, building the Jetty Road overpass, and improving our local roads and telecommunications,” Ms McKenzie said.

The Prime Minister’s office was contacted for comment.

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