Browsing articles in "Ministerial Media Releases"
Feb 28, 2018

McCormack Proud to Cut South Australian Infrastructure Investment

Incoming Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has refused to explain why he will cut infrastructure grants to South Australia to only 2 per cent of the national budget over coming years, despite the state being home to 7 per cent of Australians.

Asked to explain this extraordinary reduction in Question Time today, Mr McCormack claimed he was investing “considerable amounts of money’’ in the state.

Mr McCormack, the Coalition’s third Infrastructure Minister in as many months, is wrong.

The Government’s own Budget papers show Federal infrastructure grants to South Australia will fall from $921 million in 2017-18 to $59 million in 2020-21.

They also show that in its first four Budgets (2014-15 to 2017-17), the Coalition Government’s actual investment in South Australian infrastructure was $377 million less than its budget commitments.

Mr McCormack, who succeeded Barnaby Joyce in the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio this week, is ignorant of the cuts. Rather than admit this, he sought to defend the indefensible.

The new Minister must get across the detail, use his newfound authority to reverse the cuts and provide South Australia with the infrastructure investment it requires and deserves.

He should start by committing Federal funding to the AdeLINK light rail project to address the traffic congestion that is acting as a handbrake on economic growth in South Australia.

Feb 28, 2018

Liberals Inactive on Nowra Bridge

Liberal Party inaction is delaying progress on construction of a new Nowra Bridge, with Infrastructure Australia unable to assess the project because the New South Wales Government has yet to submit a business case.

At Senate Budget Estimates hearings in Canberra this week, Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies said his organisation had received only preliminary information about the project, not the detailed business case it requires.

The news comes despite an assurance last October from State Liberal MP Shelley Hancock that the NSW Government had put forward a “funding request’’ to allow the project to go forward as soon as practicable.

Ms Hancock and her NSW Liberal Government must end the delays and provide the documentation required by Infrastructure Australia to progress this important project.

Federal Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, should also act by pressing her state colleagues for action on behalf of the community.

Nowra and the surrounding districts need a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River to replace the existing bridge, which has passed its useful life and is becoming increasingly congested.

Investing in the right infrastructure projects not only creates jobs and economic activity in the short term, but also boosts productivity over the long-term.

Completion of a new Nowra Bridge will also significantly improve road safety.

That’s why Federal Labor has already put $50 million on the table for the project.

Ms Sudmalis and the NSW Government must move beyond rhetoric and provide actual support for this project.

WEDNESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

McCormack Boasts About Cuts to Tasmanian Infrastructure Investment

Incoming Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has nominated a cut to Tasmanian road funding as one of the Federal Coalition Government’s biggest achievements.

In Question Time today I asked Mr McCormack why his Government’s own Budget papers show Federal infrastructure investment in Tasmania will decline from $174 million this financial year to $53 million in 2019-20.

I also asked why there had been no Federal Government funding for a single new major rail or road project in the State in nearly five years.

Mr McCormack ignored my question and pointed to the upgrade of Tasmania’s Midland Highway as evidence of his Government’s commitment to nation building.

But what he failed to point out was that as soon as the Coalition took office in 2013, it cut funding that the former Labor Federal Government had provided for the Midland Highway from $500 million to $400 million.

Mr McCormack also named the Tasmanian Freight Revitalisation Program as another of the Coalition’s achievements, despite the program having been devised and funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

Mr McCormack, who succeeded Barnaby Joyce in the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio this week, is clearly ignorant of his Government’s cuts. Rather than admit this, he sought to defend the indefensible.

The new Minister must get across the detail, use his newfound authority to reverse the cuts and provide Tasmania with the infrastructure investment it requires and deserves.

Feb 27, 2018

NAIF has Produced Nothing

More than 1000 days after the creation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the organisation has yet to refer a single major project to Infrastructure Australia for formal assessment.

The NAIF, a $5 billion fund created by the Federal Coalition Government to finance the construction of job-generating infrastructure in Northern Australia, is required to consult with Infrastructure Australia before providing loans for any project valued at more than $100 million.

But this week at a Senate Budget Estimates hearing, Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Officer Philip Davies said: “We have had no formal submissions from NAIF to date’’.

The NAIF is a dud that is fast-becoming a joke. A more accurate name for this organisation would be the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

The people of Northern Australia need well-paid, secure jobs. The right infrastructure projects will stimulate the investment needed to create those jobs.

But the Coalition’s chosen vehicle to drive this growth has produced nothing, and its only expenditure has been on executive salaries and perks for its board members.

By contrast, Labor is rolling out serious plans for infrastructure investment, including the establishment of the $1 billion Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund to provide financing and concessional loans to build new tourism infrastructure.

Last week, Labor also committed to widen the channel at the Townsville Port, build the second stages of the Gladstone Port Access Road and Mackay Ring Road and deliver the Rookwood Weir to provide 2000 agriculture jobs in the Lower Fitzroy.

These are real projects that will deliver real infrastructure in Queensland and make a real difference to the lives of people in our nation’s north.

Feb 26, 2018

McCormack’s Big Infrastructure Investment Challenge

Incoming Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael McCormack must use his appointment to fix the policy failures of his three National Party predecessors and reverse the cuts to investment in nation building infrastructure.

Mr McCormack inherits a very long to-do list.

According to the Government’s own Budget Papers, Federal infrastructure investment will fall off a cliff over the next four years to its lowest level in more than two decades.

 

Worse still, the independent Parliamentary Budget Office has warned that if the Government does not reverse its cuts, Federal infrastructure investment measured as a percentage of GDP will halve over the next decade from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

This will inevitably lead to slower growth, fewer jobs, higher transport costs and more urban congestion.

But the Government is not only slashing future investment; they have also failed to deliver on their past promises.

In its first four Budgets (2014-15 to 2017-18) the Government’s actual investment was $4.8 billion less than its own commitments in its Budget.

And no area of the infrastructure budget has been spared.

Indeed, at the very time the national road toll has been increasing after decades of decline, they have even cut funding for important road safety programs.  For example, a third of the $305 million they promised to spend on the Black Spot Program over the past four years was never actually invested in fixing dangerous blackspots on local roads.

Properly targeted infrastructure investment boosts economic activity in the short term while lifting productivity in the longer term.

Put simply, Mr McCormack needs to do what Barnaby Joyce failed to do.  He needs to use his newfound position of influence within the Government to prevent the cuts currently in the Budget and boost investment, not just in rural and regional roads, but also in public transport within our cities.

Australia cannot afford to have yet another ineffective Infrastructure and Transport Minister.

MONDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, 2018

Feb 26, 2018

Labor to Back Tassie Tourism with Cradle Mountain Investment

Federal Labor will capitalise on the ongoing growth in Tasmanian tourism with a $15 million investment to improve facilities at Cradle Mountain.

The investment will upgrade the visitor amenities and comes in addition to the $30 million committed by State Labor Leader Rebecca White to this iconic attraction.

Tourist visits to Cradle Mountain grew 9 percent last year to more than a quarter of a million.

In the same period Tasmania led the nation in terms of international tourist numbers, recording an impressive 17 percent growth.

Governments must work with industry to capitalise on this trend.

The Tasmanian tourism sector already supports more than 37,000 jobs – about 16 per cent of the State’s workforce.

Improving tourism infrastructure now will enrich the experience of visitors, drive further growth and more jobs for the future.

The former Federal Labor Government invested $50,000 in the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania research which led to the development of the Cradle Mountain Masterplan Project.

We also invested $250,000 on improvements at the iconic Peppers Lodge through our Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund.

The next Labor Government will build on these investments and continue to back tourism growth right across Tasmania.

MONDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, 2018

Feb 26, 2018

Labor will Upgrade Bass Highway

A Federal Labor Government will upgrade the Bass Highway between Marrawah and Detention to improve road safety and increase growth in the region’s economy and tourism sector.

The Bass Highway is critical to Tasmania’s economy, carrying more than one million tonnes of freight each year, worth about $1 billion. It is also important for tourism at a time when visitors are increasingly exploring the state beyond Hobart and Launceston.

The Marrawah-to-Detention section has been identified as the most-dangerous part of the Bass Highway.

This is why Tasmanian State Labor Leader Rebecca White has committed $6 million to upgrade the road.

A Federal Labor Government will match that investment, taking the total commitment to repairing the Highway to $12 million.

Australian governments must work together to upgrade our railways, roads, ports and other infrastructure to drive economic growth and job creation.

This is particularly important in regional areas.

The former Federal Labor Government invested heavily in infrastructure in Tasmania, increasing investment from $157 per Tasmanian to $264 during our six years in office.

By contrast the Federal Coalition Government has failed to commence a single new major infrastructure project in Tasmania in nearly five years in office.

And the situation is about to get worse with Federal infrastructure grants to Tasmania set to fall from $174 million in 2017-18 to $62 million in 2020-21.

The next Federal Labor Government will provide Tasmania with the infrastructure investment it deserves and requires to drive sustained economic growth.

MONDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, 2018

Feb 23, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Perth, WA

Subjects; Leach Highway and Welshpool Road upgrade; WA infrastructure funding; Barnaby Joyce

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here back in Perth once again for my third visit in the last couple of months. I’ve been visiting Perth because we are absolutely committed to delivering improvements in WA infrastructure.

Today I’m joined by Hannah Beazley, our candidate for Swan and Lauren Palmer, our candidate for Hasluck and of course Rita Saffioti, the State Infrastructure Minister.

What we are committing to today is to fund half of this upgrade of the Leach Highway with Welshpool Road. This is the most congested spot of any road in Western Australia. It has a BCR (benefit-cost ratio) of above $7 for every dollar that is invested in it, and it will make a huge difference.

We’re right next to the Gateway WA project, the largest ever federally funded road project in Western Australia. It was completed in a partnership funded primarily by the former Federal Labor Government.

This is good for jobs; it’s good for reducing travel times; it’s good for the sustainability of this growing city. Today Infrastructure Australia have produced a report speaking about the problem of urban congestion and the need to deal with the productivity, sustainability and livability of our major capital cities.

It’s only Labor that has a plan to deal with that urban congestion and this follows on from the $700 million dollar commitment we made to the Ellenbrook rail line. The fact is that Labor’s committed to improving both rail and road here in Perth and indeed throughout Western Australia. This is a part of our $1.6 billion infrastructure package for WA ,because WA is missing out and is being short-changed at the moment by the GST.

So this is a great announcement. It’s fantastic that we are partnering with the WA Government. They’re committed to projects like METRONET, but also committed to upgrading the roads here in Perth and Federal Labor wants to partner with the WA State Government to improve the livability, sustainability, and productivity of this great city.

RITA SAFFIOTI, WA TRANSPORT MINISTER: Thanks very much. It’s great to have Anthony Albanese back in Perth. He’s in Perth quite often and what he’s always looking at is ways to improve the infrastructure through Perth and WA. This is another new commitment from Federal Labor and as you can see, this is a heavily congested intersection and has a very strong BCR of over seven so we welcome the additional infrastructure commitment from Federal Labor; and also, moreover, the fact that Federal Labor does come to WA.

Anthony Albanese, as the Federal Shadow Minister for Infrastructure knows WA, and what we’ve seen so far is a significant commitment to METRONET in particular the Ellenbrook rail line; and of course we’re working with Federal Labor to see what other commitments we can have as part of this lead up to the next election. So we welcome the commitment. Again, we appreciate the fact that Federal Labor is keen to work with us to deliver new infrastructure, to reduce congestion and create jobs in WA.

REPORTER: Will this project go to Infrastructure WA?

SAFFIOTI: This project has already had a strong BCR as I’ve outlined, of over seven so regarding the timing, yes; it just depends on the timing of when Infrastructure WA is set up but I just want to outline this a little bit in particular in relation to main roads and PTA over here. Because we have an established processes and for example PTA in all of its Metronet projects works through a business case process with Infrastructure Australia.

Every project with over $100 million has a detailed business case. Every project under $100 million is still submitted to Infrastructure Australia, for example currently, and there is also a project plan that’s also submitted. So we already had that process underway. Infrastructure WA of course will help supplement that, but because my agencies have been working with Infrastructure Australia in particular over the past year, there is an established process and that’s what’s been occurring.

ALBANESE: No questions about my Minister?

REPORTER: Just on this project, this money is to come out of a Better Deal for WA Fund. Wouldn’t it just be better for WA in the longer term to reform the GST?

ALBANESE: The fact is that we’re doing what Colin Barnett has called the most significant federal response by any political party to the fact that Western Australia is being shortchanged on the GST. We’re actually doing something by committing $1.6 billion and that’s over and on top of the other infrastructure commitments that we would make to WA.

So we are dealing with the circumstance from Opposition – where of course you can’t make changes – but what we’re doing is making sure that West Australians know, just as we did when were last in Government, with Gateway WA, with the Perth CityLink project, with the Great Eastern Highway, with the Swan Valley Bypass, with the Esperance Port Access Road, with the Bunbury upgrades, with the Great Northern Highway, what we are doing is investing here in WA.

Now, what’s occurring is that a whole lot of projects that were funded by us, that were in our Budget either in 2013 or earlier – the North West Coastal Highway – these projects are either completed, like Gateway WA, or they’re underway. This Government isn’t creating that pipeline of projects. Now, this project could commence, my understanding is, in 2019. We want to commit very early. We have that commitment there so that the WA State Government knows that that is the case.

Now, if ever the Coalition get their eye back on the ball on infrastructure and actually engage in infrastructure policy, hopefully we’ll get some commitments out of the Coalition Government as well. But at the moment we simply haven’t got that. They’ve lost another Infrastructure Minister today. It’s symptomatic of a Government that’s lost its way.

I’d say to Prime Minister Turnbull, who gets to allocate portfolios; please appoint someone who actually knows where Western Australia is; who actually knows where capital cities are; who knows that we need to deal with urban congestion as a priority when it comes to dealing with infrastructure in accordance with the report that is out today from Infrastructure Australia.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: That work will now be done, but there has obviously been a business case developed for this project; that all depends of course on our money flowing. When the election date is, we don’t know.

We’ll work those issues through, but we’re committing very much for that money to be available immediately upon the next federal election – if we’re successful in that election campaign. One of the ways that we can be successful is by having Hannah and Lauren elected in Swan and Hasluck.

There are a range of seats here in Western Australia and West Australians know that they’ve been neglected by the current Government in spite of the fact that they have senior members in the Cabinet.

It’s about time that the Federal Government woke up to the fact that Western Australia deserves a fair go and that’s what we’re doing today, just as we are with the Ellenbrook rail line; just as we will other commitments that we’ll be making over the course of the coming year.

REPORTER: You alluded to the fact that Barnaby Joyce has resigned as leader of the Nations, do you think that’s going to restore stability to the Government?

ALBANESE: This is a government that has lost its sense of purpose. The problem is that this is a Government that is concerned about itself, not concerned about the people of Australia.

Not concerned about whether kids are getting the right education; whether our universities and TAFE colleges are properly funded; whether the healthcare care system is functioning effectively; whether proper infrastructure is being delivered in our cities and in our regions.

This is a Government that has lost its way on a range of policy areas. They simply have been in drift. We still don’t have a national energy policy under this Government. There has been a sense of drift for years now. We don’t really have an infrastructure policy or plan being rolled out to deal with the challenge of urban congestion.

They don’t have a policy on climate change. They don’t have a policy to deal with our ageing population.

They don’t have a policy to deal with the fact that real wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and people’s living standards are going down.

They don’t have a policy on housing affordability. They said they look at issues like capital gains tax and negative gearing. Then when we came out with the policy they’ve gone into retreat mode. This is a Government that is acting like an opposition in exile and it is in Australia’s interests for it to be an opposition, in fact, as soon as possible.

That’s why the easiest thing for Malcolm Turnbull to do would be to call an election sooner rather than later and put what is a floundering Government out of its misery.

REPORTER: Do you think Mr Joyce should have gone further and stepped down from his seat?

ALBANESE: That’s a matter for him. He has been elected as the Member for New England. But clearly, it was appropriate that he stepped down as Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister. Everyone knew that was the case.

Malcolm Turnbull showed what a weak leader he is by giving a press conference indicating very clearly that he’d lost faith in Barnaby Joyce, but failing to call for him to step aside.

We’ve seen issues in the past, where there’s been conflict, where the National Party has been prepared to stand up to the Liberal Party. Of course most notably, Earle Page essentially pulled the rug out from under Robert Menzies the first time that Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of Australia.

We saw Black Jack McEwen in the 60s veto, effectively, Billy McMahon becoming Prime Minister which is why then-Senator John Gorton got sworn in as Liberal Leader and as Prime Minister; and we saw Barnaby Joyce himself not be shy about taking out Malcolm Turnbull during his first disastrous term as Liberal Leader.

This goes back to Turnbull and the fact that he’s not able to control his own Party. He’s not able to govern with policies that he himself supports; whether it be on marriage equality, when he had to go through the $120 million public survey when he could have just looked at Newspoll to get the outcome that everyone knew would arise from that; whether it be the republic; whether it be support for public transport, Malcolm Turnbull isn’t able to actually govern and provide that leadership.

[ENDS]

FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018

Feb 23, 2018

Labor will Fix Perth’s Busiest Intersection

A Federal Labor Government will help eliminate Perth’s most-congested road intersection by funding construction of an overpass to separate the Leach Highway from Welshpool Road at Welshpool.

Every peak hour, congestion around the existing intersection creates queues of vehicles stretching as far as 1km. This holds up traffic headed to and from important industrial areas of O’Connor and Welshpool as well as the Kewdale Intermodal Freight Terminal, Perth Airport and the Port of Fremantle.

Separating the highway with an overpass will make a real difference to the Perth economy by lifting productivity and driving economic and jobs growth.

The project would also include an upgrade to the Leach Highway Bridge over rail south of the proposed Welshpool Interchange. Upgrading this bridge would ensure the southbound ramp and merge lane is not constrained, providing adequate long-term capacity on the Leach Highway.

Federal Labor would contribute half of the project funding, which has a current estimated cost of $93 million.

Construction is expected to create 385 direct and indirect jobs and work could begin as early as June, 2019.

Western Australia must broaden its economic base.

Governments must facilitate this process by investing in transformative infrastructure projects like the Welshpool Interchange to make it easier for businesses to get their goods to market.

The Leach Highway-Welshpool Road intersection is immediately south of the Gateway WA project, which was funded by the former Federal Labor Government and delivered benefits for the entire Western Australian state economy.

The former Labor Government also funded the Perth City Link, the Swan Valley Bypass (now known as NorthLink), the Tonkin and Leach Highway upgrades and work on the Great Northern Highway and the North-West Coastal Highway.

The next Federal Labor Government will build on this record.

As with the $700 million Labor has already committed to the extension of the rail line to Ellenbrook, the funding for the Leach Highway/Welshpool Road Intersection Upgrade will come from our $1.6 billion Fair Share for WA Fund, to be established in recognition of WA not receiving a fair share of GST receipts.

FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY, 2018

Feb 23, 2018

Infrastructure Australia Report Highlights Coalition Inaction on Public Transport

Infrastructure Australia’s call for increased Government investment in public transport has highlighted the folly of the Turnbull Government’s failure to invest in mass transit at a time of intensifying growth of Australian cities.

Infrastructure Australia’s Future Cities report, released today, warns: “Investment in mass transit is crucial to reducing congestion, increasing accessibility and reducing the rate of emissions growth.’’

The report comes just a day after an International Monetary Fund report called on Australia to lift its infrastructure investment, noting it had over-invested on roads at the expense of railways, ports and airports.

As soon as the Federal Coalition Government took office it refused to work with states to invest in public transport and withdrew funding for all urban rail projects except those that were already under construction.

Since then, the Coalition has refused to back critical public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, the Western Sydney Rail and the AdeLINK light rail project in Adelaide.

After nearly five years of drift under the Coalition, it is time for a policy shift to tackle the traffic congestion that is acting as a handbrake on economic growth and eroding the quality of life of the four out of five Australians who live in cities.

Australians who live in drive-in, drive-out suburbs with no access to public transport spend hours a day commuting on increasingly congested roads.

Indeed, it is a tragedy that many Australian parents spend more time in their cars commuting than they spend at home playing with their children.

The former Federal Labor Government invested more on public transport than all previous commonwealth governments combined since Federation.

We also created the Major Cities Unit and the annual State of Australian Cities Report and produced a comprehensive urban policy Our Cities, Our Future to drive policy to improve the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities.

Both the Major Cities Unit and the State of Australian Cities Report were abolished by the Coalition.

The next Federal Labor Government will re-engage with cities policy and start by re-establishing the Major Cities Unit within Infrastructure Australia.

We will work with States, councils and the planning sector to meet the growth pressures facing urban Australia and provide the investment required to bring our public transport system into the 21st century.

FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY, 2018

 

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(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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