Browsing articles in "Ministerial Speeches"
Jun 22, 2011

Speech to Built Environment Meets Parliament – Building better cities

Speech to Built Environment Meets Parliament – Building better cities

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

22 June 2011

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today before this great crowd of designers, architects, builders and planners – though I understand your ranks have been thinned due to the Chilean ash. All of you are committed to building better cities, better urban spaces and better places for us all to live.

I congratulate Built Environment Meets Parliament – or BEMP.

By coming to this particular building each year, you place these most important issues directly in the glare of the national spotlight.

It’s just over a month since I released Australia’s national urban policy – Our Cities, Our Future.

When I launched it at a Property Council of Australia breakfast I referred to the work of the late, great cities guru Jane Jacobs.

This week, I was reading a new book – Triumph of the Cities – by another American economist, Harvard University’s Professor Edward Glaeser.

It’s subtitled – How our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier and happier – and it is filled with remarkable facts and thoughts about how cities work and prosper.

I was therefore very pleased to discover that Professor Glaeser is your keynote speaker this afternoon – although I understand the ash means he’s now coming to you via video link.

And I am indeed curious to hear the thoughts of someone who’s prepared to take issue not just with Jane Jacobs – at least with some of her views – but also the great Indian leader, Mahatma Ghandi, who he says was plain wrong when he claimed that the growth of India depended not on its cities but its villages.

India’s growth, writes Glaeser, depends almost entirely on its cities. Cities like New York and London, he says, succeed because they are where talent is concentrated and where smart workers and smart firms flock to be near each other.

Taking on two near demi-gods – Jacobs and the Mahatma – takes some courage so I’d be very interested to hear what else the Professor will be talking to you about this afternoon.

But what have a bunch of the nation’s top planners done?

You’ve scheduled his address to clash with Question Time!

 

National Urban Policy

When I launched the urban policy, I said I wanted it to spark a national conversation about our Australian cities.

And today is a great opportunity for such a conversation.

Many of you will have attended one of the 18 forums we held in each of our major cities over the past 12 months and I thank those of you here who contributed your ideas.

The Federal Government does have a critical role to play in making our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Despite the romantic view of ourselves as a nation of rough, tough country-folk, Australia is one of the most urbanised nations on the planet.

Cities are our principal centres of economic activity.

They account for about 80 percent of GDP and employ three out of every four Australians.

They are where labour, industry and social institutions are most concentrated.

But in Australia, we cannot ignore the fact that our cities are under strain.

Congestion is costing us dearly.

Not only does it steal time from our work and family lives, it is also a major economic drain.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates that if left unattended, congestion will cost our economy $20 billion by 2020. That’s why the Gillard Government is turning a national eye to the business of cities.

Not because it’s easy, not because it’s without risks, but because it’s necessary.

 

Productivity

Productivity is, of course, the key to maintaining our place in the fastest growing and most dynamic region in the world.

The microeconomic reforms of the 1980s and early 90s lifted our productivity to an average of 2.3 percent by the late 1990s.

Unfortunately, the effects of those reforms were worn away during the following decade.

Between 2000 and 2008, our average annual productivity growth fell to just 1.6 percent.

If productivity growth is left to languish, Australia will stagnate and struggle to keep pace with our neighbours.

That is not something this Government is prepared to let happen.

That’s why in 2009 all State and Territory Governments agreed through COAG that they would have in place capital city strategic plans by 1 January 2012.

Each city will have its own plan serving its own interests, but the result will be a nation better connected and served by its infrastructure.

Indeed, future Commonwealth infrastructure investment will be linked to these plans and the principles laid out in our national urban policy.

Right now, the COAG Reform Council is reviewing the plans against nationally agreed criteria.

We would like to see cities with populations greater than 100,000 put in place similar plans.

Let me be clear, this is not a takeover of State and Territory planning roles.

But the Commonwealth will use all the levers at our disposal to drive, foster and encourage the creation of more productive, sustainable and liveable cities.

We know that the future productivity of our cities depends on having in place the infrastructure to sustain them as they grow.

That’s why we’ve made record investments in productive infrastructure, including some $18 billion in urban rail and road infrastructure.

We’ve increased average annual spending on rail more than tenfold.

We have committed more to urban rail since coming to office in 2007 than all previous governments – collectively – since Federation.

We now have a major urban rail project in every mainland state capital:

  • Noarlunga to Seaford rail extension & Gawler Line in Adelaide;
  • The Perth City Link Project;
  • Moreton Bay Rail line in Brisbane;
  • Regional Rail Link in Melbourne;
  • The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link in Sydney;
  • As well as the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project.

We’re also about to begin much needed improvements to Sydney’s freight rail system.

This will help free up space on the passenger network, making rail travel a more attractive alternative for car commuters.

We are also improving the efficiency of our urban infrastructure by improving connectivity via the National Broadband Network – the railway of the twenty-first century.

In last month’s Budget we announced the Infrastructure Investment Incentive, aimed at attracting up to $25 billion worth of private and superannuation investment in our infrastructure.

Projects that are ticked off by Infrastructure Australia will be eligible for the incentive.

We will be funding greater use of smart technologies for our roads and highways where data sensors can improve real time management of vehicle movements.

Such systems improve the speed and flow of traffic, reducing the stop-start behaviour that occurs on congested roads – reducing accidents and greenhouse gas emissions.

Supporting this is our Suburban Jobs program, which will see more jobs created outside central CBDs, reducing travel times and distances for our city workers.

 

Sustainability

This Government is determined to make our cities more sustainable.

How cities are planned, their density and spread and the infrastructure within them, provide enormous opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.

The leadership of the City of Sydney with its proposals for Green Square shows a practical example of visionary, sustainable policy development and I commend the City for it.

This is also a good moment for me to congratulate Frankston City Council in Victoria for winning on Monday the Inspired Cities Award.

This local government award is sponsored by the Major Cities Unit of my department and was won by Frankston Council for its Splash Card Scheme.

The card connects students and young people to jobs with nearby businesses, using virtual infrastructure and boosting the economic growth and liveability of the area.

This is a great practical example of how we can make our cities work better – by encouraging job opportunities near where people live and integrated with public transport hubs.

The urban plan also looks at how we can better manage our natural resources and incorporate climate change risks, when we decide on the location, design and operation of new infrastructure.

In this way, we can reduce the effects of natural disasters such as the recent floods across Eastern Australia.

The Budget also backed the Henry Review’s recommendation to replace the current tax formula for motor vehicle fringe benefits.

Under the old arrangement, the taxable value of a car’s fringe benefit actually fell the more you drove.

Each year, two million Australian vehicles have been taking advantage of this benefit, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion.

Clearly, this reform was long overdue.

What we now have is a much simpler system, with a single rate of 20 percent, regardless of kilometres travelled.

This practical measure will make a real difference.

 

Liveability

Let me look now at what we can do to make our cities more liveable.

In last month’s budget, we announced seed funding for high-quality urban renewal projects.

These will serve as models to show how we can create more liveable buildings and better public spaces and streetscapes.

We want to encourage a better supply of appropriate mixed income housing for people of all ages and abilities, both in metropolitan and regional cities.

Last year’s 2010 Intergenerational Report also urged a national approach to our cities.

We know that our cities are continuing to grow and that the makeup of the population is changing.

Those aged 65 and over will nearly double from 14 percent to 23 percent by mid-century.

That means a smaller workforce and an eroded tax base.

We therefore need to be smarter about how we attract and sustain our workers, with a variety of affordable housing and job opportunities close to home.

Too many of our cities have areas defined by their lack of access to jobs, educational opportunities and services.

We need to make sure that as the economy grows, people are not left behind.

This was a major theme of the recent budget – a Labor budget – that recognises that everyone in this country should have the opportunity to share in our future prosperity.

Providing training and prospects of employment is good for individuals – and it is also in our nation’s interest.

 

Conclusion

The Australian Government wants a prosperous and resilient future for Australia with cities that lead the world in their productivity, sustainability and liveability.

It’s a deeply exciting area to be working in, for it can literally change the shape and face of our nation.

I thank you for your continuing belief that our cities can and should be better places for us all.

Let me conclude as I began with Professor Glaeser’s elegant contemplation of our urban world.

“Cities,” he says, “have been the engines of innovation since Plato and Socrates bickered in the Athenian market place.

“The great prosperity of contemporary London and Bangalore and Tokyo comes from their ability to produce new thinking.

“Wandering these cities – whether down cobblestone sidewalks or grid-cutting cross-streets, around roundabouts or under freeways – is to study nothing less than human progress.”

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Jun 21, 2011

Keynote address to the Patronage Forecasting Symposium

Keynote address to the Patronage Forecasting Symposium – Managing Patronage Forecasting & Risk

Hyatt Hotel, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

21 June 2011

INTRODUCTION

I begin by wishing you all a warm welcome to a cold Canberra.

A particular welcome to Professor Bain, who has joined us from the UK today.

I am also pleased to see a few of my colleagues from the Infrastructure Working Group here. The Group, which I chair, had a lead role developing the first ever national PPP policy, and will continue to lead on a national response on managing patronage forecasting and risk.

Today’s event kick-starts an important discussion between the public and private sectors, one that has been overlooked, and which sits at the heart of investor confidence in Australian infrastructure.

We do face significant challenges in tackling the infrastructure backlog in Australia. At risk of being dramatic, there has also been on the back of the GFC, a crisis of confidence in PPPs in Australia.

But we do need the private sector to step up when it comes to delivering the infrastructure this country needs.

Over-optimistic patronage forecasts for certain toll road projects have been a scourge on investor confidence broadly.

They also have had the perverse consequence of directing scarce resources towards underperforming investments.

The outcome has been lost opportunities to increase the productivity of the Australian economy.

For these reasons, both governments and the private sector need to respond to this issue, and share responsibility for how best to do so.

Today’s symposium shines a bright light on this complex issue, and I acknowledge the diligent and farsighted work of the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics in my Department, for organising this event.

Having set out the reasons why we are holding this conference today, I want to engage head-on with the issue of risk transfer.

Today is not an admission that governments must assume demand risk in order to attract private sector investment. Demand risk transfer can provide value and protection for the Australian taxpayer.

Today is an acceptance that procurement processes, for example, could be improved to provide greater protection for investors.

And it is an acceptance that projects should be viewed case by case, with flexibility around how risks are managed for specific projects.

The Government does not bring an ideological presumption to the best finance model – it must be based on what is the best value for money.

Likewise, the Commonwealth is not undertaking to intervene in State Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Instead, we can work with States and Territories to develop a more nationally sophisticated approach that promotes private investment, while delivering value to taxpayers.

Today is an opportunity to look at where errors begin – at the modelling and source data stage – and where they are compounded, in the tendering process.

Understanding these two issues will have a range of benefits across the infrastructure sector, and not just to the narrow subset of PPPs.

Ultimately, we want to avoid a situation where investor losses see taxpayers pay a higher price for critical infrastructure in the long term.

In short, we want to get the planning of projects right.

 

2011 BUDGET MEASURES

The Government announced in the 2011 Budget a package designed to improve the planning of infrastructure projects in Australia, and encourage investor confidence in nationally significant projects.

The package came about through consultation with the private sector, as part of the Prime Minister’s productivity agenda, which has three pillars:

  • A nation-wide improvement in our human capital from the bottom up — from early childhood education to tertiary education;
  • Health care, with reform to make our health system world-class and sustainable; and
  • Infrastructure, urban planning, and regulatory and financing reform, to improve foster a seamless national economy.

There is no one panacea for long term infrastructure investment.

The package we announced on Budget night has multiple lines of attack, including measures to deepen the pipeline of potential projects, improve transparency, and get the governance and planning of projects right.

We also announced a new Infrastructure Investment Incentive, designed to attract up to $25 billion of superannuation and private investment into nationally significant infrastructure.

Like today’s work on forecasting, these tax reforms go to the heart of any investment decision – the relationship between risk and return.

In the case of infrastructure, the current tax treatment of early stage losses lowers the incentive to undertake risky long term investments.

We’ve heard this clearly from industry, and through the Henry review.

Under the Government’s new changes, a project assessed as nationally significant by Infrastructure Australia, may be eligible to have the value of its early stage losses uplifted over time, and exempted from tax rules which prevent losses being used where there is a change of ownership.

Overall, the result will be a lower weighted average cost of capital for eligible projects, lower compliance costs, and greater certainty especially for brownfield investors, like super funds.

Our aim is to make productive projects for the nation even better investments for the private sector – to encourage the sector to plan around worthwhile infrastructure projects in Australia into the future.

This is part of a broad program by this Government to tackle prolonged under-investment in Australia’s infrastructure and to drive a long-term agenda on infrastructure through Infrastructure Australia.

Since it was established three years ago, IA has run the first ever national audit of infrastructure, established an annual priority list of projects, and begun productivity strategies for our ports and freight network.

In addition, this Government is investing in a record nation building program, which has doubled the roads budget to $27 billion over six years.

All of this work has clearly been a game-changer in Australia – shifting the debate from the short to long-term, and entrenching new standards by which public infrastructure is judged by.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCING GROUP

The work of reform is never done.

In the 2011 Budget package, we announced a new advisory group of senior private and public sector advisers to continue these reforms.

The Infrastructure Finance Working Group will advise Infrastructure Australia and the Government on implementing the 2011 Budget reforms, identifying:

  • Where projects on the infrastructure priority list could be privately financed;
  • The role of user charges and applicability of alternative financing models;
  • Further PPP process and procurement reforms;
  • Potential reforms to the Commonwealth grant process, and ways to better utilise the Commonwealth balance sheet; and
  • Further reforms to develop the commercial debt market and develop the infrastructure projects pipeline further.

I am pleased to announce today the members of the Infrastructure Finance Working Group:

  • Mr Jim Murphy – Chair, Executive Director of Markets Group in the Australian Treasury.
  • Mr Ross Rolfe – Deputy Chair, CEO and Managing Director of Alinta Energy.
  • Mr Mike Mrdak – Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
  • Dr Paul Schreier – Acting Deputy Secretary at Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Mr Stephen Williams – Head of Australian Operations at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
  • Mr David Byrne – an executive of ANZ, with extensive experience across utilities, infrastructure, defence and higher education.
  • Mr Julian Vella – National Leader of the Infrastructure Projects Group with global advisory firm KPMG.
  • Ms Pauline Vamos – Chief Executive of the Association of Super Funds of Australia.
  • Mr Brendan Lyon – CEO of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

It truly is an all stars team, and I look forward to working with all members of the new Group.

 

CONCLUSION

Today’s Symposium is a key step towards finding solutions.

Your collective wisdom and experience will no doubt provide unique insights.

I am very keen to hear your practical suggestions for governments and industry.

This is essential if we are to see more private investment in public infrastructure, and if we are to make Australian infrastructure more competitive.

I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedules to attend. I am keen to see the outcomes and I wish you well in your discussions.

[ENDS]

Jun 9, 2011

Keynote address to the Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Conference

Keynote address to the Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Conference – Building economic prosperity in Australia

Hilton Hotel, Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

9 June 2011

In January 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his second inaugural address titled One Third of a Nation, reflected on the nation’s progress out of the Great Depression.

Four years had passed since the start of his unprecedented economic program to arrest the Great Depression.

During that time, unemployment had more than halved from an estimated 20.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent.

His speech was a clarion call to improve the lives of one-third of the nation who struggled to meet their basic needs, and a pledge to make every citizen the subject of the country’s interest and concern.

He made the powerful point that a nation’s economic progress is inextricably linked to the well-being of its people.

He said, “in our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people”.

That statement still holds true today.

And it has been a fundamental belief for successive Labor governments in Australia.

Between 1993-94 and 1998-99, productivity growth surged to 2.3 per cent, the second fastest among key OECD countries.

In the decade that followed, this figure slid to 1.4 per cent.

If we returned productivity growth today to two per cent over the next 40 years, incomes would increase $16,000 per person in today’s dollars.

Productivity reform requires courageous long term decisions.

…Like pricing carbon to encourage new investment in sustainable, renewable energy, and to seize an early advantage globally.

…Like building the National Broadband Network to remove the digital divide and drive innovation across the continent.

The Prime Minister has set out three pillars for this Government’s productivity agenda:

  • A nation-wide improvement in our human capital — that is, skills and training, from the bottom up — from early childhood education to tertiary education right across the country
  • Health care, with the right reforms to make it world-class and sustainable
  • And infrastructure, urban planning, regulatory reform and financing to improve the arteries of our economy, develop our regions, and foster a seamless national economy.

 

OUR RECORD SO FAR

In the four years since we were elected, substantial differences have emerged between the two sides of Australian politics on infrastructure.

I want to look this morning at three of these differences.

And then I want to frame the 2011 Infrastructure Budget in that context, and explain why it is a fitting budget for our times – a forward looking budget for Australia.

First, this Government has given public infrastructure the reform priority and national leadership it deserves.

We established Infrastructure Australia to drive a long-term agenda on infrastructure.

IA ran the first ever national audit of infrastructure – looking at critical gaps and establishing economic priorities.

We then began a priority list of projects, created a national PPP policy, with productivity strategies for our ports and freight network.

All of this work has helped the Federal Government to direct its eye to where economic need is greatest.

This has clearly been a game-changer in Australia.

It has shifted the debate from the short to long-term, from activity to productivity.

IA has begun to change the way the nation plans, finances and builds major infrastructure projects, and has defined new standards by which public investments are judged.

Second, this Government has made it a priority to tackle prolonged under-investment in Australia’s infrastructure.

There are wildly different estimates of the ‘infrastructure deficit’ in Australia, but everyone agrees on its impact.

Families and businesses under the previous government faced the highest inflation in 16 years, and felt personally the costs of urban sprawl, bottlenecks and congestion.

This Government has in place a record investment program that doubles investment in roads, and increases annual spending on rail tenfold.

Between 2006-07 and 2009-10, major infrastructure construction work increased in real terms by more than 40 per cent.

We are now half way through a sweeping construction program of over 120 major construction projects, including:

  • major upgrades to the Pacific and Bruce Highways, and the full duplication of the Hume Highway by 2012
  • boom gates and safety upgrades at 300 high risk level crossings
  • 38 major freight and passenger rail projects, including $7.3 billion for a major passenger rail project in every mainland capital city, making this the most significant Federal investment in Australian rail ever, and
  • extensive rebuilding of more than a third of Australia’s ageing interstate freight rail network, cutting travel times between Melbourne and Brisbane from 37 hours to 26.

Already the rail improvements are paying dividends with Woolworths recently announcing its intention to switch freight along the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane route from road to rail.

And we are stepping up in an area of significant market failure in Australia – in globally competitive telecommunications and broadband infrastructure.

Make no mistake, this is an essential utility for a modern 21st century economy.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that across the OECD, each percentage increase in public infrastructure stock increases economic output by around 0.2 per cent.

So all these investments represent good policy.

But as I’ve said before, a long term agenda needs a government that has a bigger story to tell than its own political self-interest.

This investment program draws a line under the previous decade of government, when virtually none of the $334 billion revenue windfall from mining boom Mark I was invested in productive infrastructure.

Third, this Government responded to the global downturn by lifting public investment in Australia’s infrastructure capacity.

While the rest of the world shed 30 million jobs, this Government took significant action such that 740,000 more Australians went to work.

Of our economic stimulus package, infrastructure comprised 70 per cent.

Funding went to shovel-ready projects which could support local jobs and investment in the immediate term, and larger nation building projects to ensure our long term economic sustainability.

Those who attempt to describe this as a hiccup have shown they need to get out more – and they are not ready to manage the Australian economy.

This audience well understands that the aftershocks of the GFC are still being felt around the world, a reminder of how Australia achieved what other countries did not.

 

THE 2011 BUDGET IN CONTEXT

Against this backdrop, the 2011 Budget helps set up an Australia that is built to compete and prosper in the 21st century.

It balances the need to deal with re-emerging capacity constraints, and the need for tight fiscal settings on the Commonwealth balance sheet.

In total, the 2011 Budget provides some $950 million in new and accelerated investment for the Nation Building Program, as well as almost $400 million for Regional Infrastructure Fund projects.

And our continuing commitment to those three areas of difference I just spoke of is right there in the 2011 Budget papers.

First, the Budget continues improvements in infrastructure planning and reform in Australia.

We boosted funding for Infrastructure Australia by 40 per cent and made it more independent, giving it a renewed mandate to develop high productivity infrastructure strategies, undertake audits across the country, and drive further reform of private finance.

We developed measures with industry to improve transparency in the infrastructure market, and to get the governance and planning of projects right.

IA will publish project assessments including cost benefit analyses.

We will develop a National Construction Schedule for a pipeline of construction projects.

We’ve begun work with the states and territories around patronage risk, including forecasting methods and innovative ways to manage demand risk.

And we will develop a post-build evaluation framework to strengthen the benefit-cost framework that IA uses.

We know that the Australian infrastructure market functions best when it works with government and not in spite of it.

We also funded reforms to finally deliver one set of seamless, modern, nationwide rules for the transport industry.

From 2013 there will be three national regulators in rail, maritime and heavy vehicles, not 23 disparate regulators across the country. This is a long overdue reform that will boost national income by up to $30 billion over the next 20 years.

Second, the Budget continues our record investment in regional and urban infrastructure.

This Budget delivers more than $1 billion in extra investment for the next stages of work to duplicate the Pacific Highway by 2016, subject to matched funding by the new NSW Government.

There is no road more important in Australia.

Interstate freight between Sydney and Brisbane is predicted to almost triple by 2029, with 80 per cent of this growth to be carried by trucks using the Pacific Highway.

The Budget continued work in regional Australia, putting forward funding for our first Regional Infrastructure Fund projects, bringing forward funding for early work on the Inland Rail, and reinstating vital Bruce Highway projects that were suspended due to flood reconstruction.

We have also delivered the National Urban Policy, which I launched at a Property Council function at this venue. This Policy will drive better infrastructure and planning in Australia’s major economic centres.

Australia’s cities contribute 80 per cent of GDP. They employ three out of every four Australians and boast the most varied concentration of capital and institutions.

If nothing is done, the annual cost of urban congestion is estimated to rise to $20 billion by 2020.

The National Urban Policy sets in place a clear Commonwealth funding framework requiring all States and Territories to have in place strategic plans for their capital cities by 1 January next year.

Future Commonwealth infrastructure investment will be linked to these plans.

And we announced over $180 million in new programs to support productive, sustainable, liveable cities.

  • The $20 million Liveable Cities program to identify innovative solutions to poor urban design.
  • A new $100 million Suburban Jobs initiative to develop work opportunities closer to where people live in the outer suburbs of our capital cities.
  • A $61 million National Smart Managed Motorways Trial to retrofit smart technology on congested motorways, to improve traffic flows and deploy the National Broadband Network to our infrastructure networks.

Third, this Budget corrects the balance post-GFC between public and private investment – promoting greater private financing of infrastructure.

Australia continues to have substantial infrastructure financing needs.

But there is only so much more that Governments can – and should – do.

We do need the private sector to step up if we are to tackle the infrastructure backlog.

There is no simple panacea for a long term infrastructure backlog.

The package we announced on Budget night has multiple lines of attack – including the measures I spoke of earlier to enhance transparency, to deepen the pipeline of potential projects, and to get the governance and planning of projects right.

We also announced critical reforms to attract up to $25 billion of superannuation and private investment into public infrastructure.

These reforms go to the heart of any investment decision – the relationship between risk and return.

In the case of infrastructure, the current tax treatment of early stage losses lowers the incentive to undertake risky long term investments.

We’ve heard this loud and clear from industry, and through the Henry review process.

Under the government’s new changes, a project assessed as nationally significant by IA may be eligible to have the value of its early stage losses uplifted over time, and exempted from tax rules which prevent tax losses being used where there is a change of ownership.

Overall, the result will be a lower weighted average cost of capital for eligible projects, lower compliance costs, and certainty.

That is, productive projects for the nation will be even better investments for the private sector.

These measures were developed through close consultation with industry, because we want to send a strong signal to the super sector and other investors: plan your business capacity around worthwhile infrastructure projects in Australia.

And to continue this important engagement between government and the private sector, we are establishing a new Infrastructure Financing Group of senior private and public sector advisers to continue these reforms.

Consider that our reform to lift the superannuation guarantee from 9 to 12 per cent will generate an extra half a trillion dollars in savings to 2035.

The challenge, and the opportunity, is to attract more of such savings into essential Australian infrastructure. More infrastructure at lower cost to the taxpayer.

And to do this, we need to make Australian infrastructure a more competitive investment.

The truth is that Australian super funds already invest in infrastructure, but 40 per cent or more of this investment heads overseas.

And the reasons why are found here at home.

The Budget announcement means that second stage investors, like super funds, can have greater confidence about investing here.

 

CONCLUSION

I want to close by making the point that these measures are good policy because they ensure the Government works with the market, not against it.

Returning to FDR’s speech, delivered just as the world was emerging from the Great Depression, the President said this: “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics”.

This 2011 budget is one for our times – one that is fiscally strict, but which focuses on the benefits to the community of long term investments in productivity.

And we are able to invest for the future, to look to the future, because we acted decisively as the Australian economy buffeted the global recession and more recently, natural disasters.

[ENDS]

Jun 9, 2011

Speech to National Roads Summit 2011 – Paving the way

Speech to National Roads Summit 2011 – Paving the way

Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

9 June 2011

If any of you have had the rather surreal experience, of wandering through the streets of Pompeii, you will have noticed the quality of the roads.

As well as the remarkably intact frescoes and villas and shops and market squares, there beneath your feet are roads that were laid up to 25 centuries ago.

The Romans certainly knew how to build a road.

At the height of the empire, their roads spanned more than 400,000 kilometres.

In fact around the time of the death of Julius Caesar, the official register of roads noted:

“There is hardly a district to which we might expect a Roman official to be sent, on service either civil or military, where we do not find roads. They reach the Wall in Britain; run along the Rhine, the Danube and the Euphrates; and cover, as with a network, the interior provinces or the Empire.”

Until then, most roads consisted of little more than levelled earthen tracks.

But the Roman’s built their roads like walls – broken stones mixed with cement and sand, with curved stones along the centre for drainage and tightly packed paving stones on top.

Some of those roads still exist today.

Put simply, the nation-building Romans knew that roads were their key to progress and to economic prosperity.

And in Australia in this 21st century, roads are no less important.

Our roads have paved the way to the economic strength we enjoy in Australia today and, like the Romans, we depend on them to traverse our vast nation.

Australia’s road network extends some 817,000 kilometres and is the fifth-largest in the world.

And like the Romans, the Federal Government is keenly aware that the health of this network is vital in maintaining and sustaining our national economic productivity.

 

NATION BUILDING – HALFWAY REPORT

It is now three years since Australia embarked on the biggest nation building program this country has ever seen.

Let me give you some figures which demonstrate this fact.

In 1999/2000, total infrastructure investment made up 5.5 percent of our GDP.

By 2009/2010, the percentage of GDP invested in infrastructure had grown to 7.3 percent.

We have almost doubled the roads budget to $27 billion and we are rolling out the biggest road construction program since the creation of the national network almost 40 years ago.

We have increased annual spending on rail more than tenfold.

And on top of this is a massive investment in future communications through the National Broadband Network, and investing in our children through the Building the Education Revolution.

At this halfway point in our Nation Building Program, it is timely that I provide you with a report card, looking particularly at what we are doing for roads.

We can say now that Australia weathered the global financial crisis far better than most.

In part this was due to the Labor Government’s investment in economic stimulus funding in infrastructure.

Let me run briefly through some projects funded through stimulus money.

  • Adelaide’s Northern Expressway, completed ahead of time and on budget saving commuters 20 minutes in travel time.
  • The Mandurah Entrance Road in Perth finished ahead of time and on budget.
  • The Western Ring Road upgrade in Victoria – progressing on time and under budget with the upgrade of additional stretches between Edgars Road and Plenty Road.
  • In Tasmania, work continues on the Brighton bypass.
  • In the Northern Territory, we have opened the Tiger Brennan Drive upgrade – on time and on budget.

We know that this investment is important.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economic reports that every dollar invested in the Nation Building Program’s stimulus projects brings a benefit of $2.34 to Australia.

 

RECENT BUDGET

Let me turn to the recent budget where some $6 billion was earmarked for our nation’s roads in the coming financial year.

There was $1 billion in additional funding for the Pacific Highway, plus a further $916 million earmarked for new projects under the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Right now, there are close to 100 major road building projects underway or about to begin, including all the commitments we took to last year’s general election.

The 2011-12 Budget also confirms $1 billion in funding for the nation’s 565 councils and shires to assist them maintain and upgrade their local roads.

 

PACIFIC HIGHWAY

There has been a lot of media interest recently in the Pacific Highway so let me tell you today how progress stands on this critical national highway.

This Government is keenly aware that duplication of the Pacific Highway is well overdue.

The fact remains that it is 22 years since 56 people died in two separate tragic bus crashes on that road.

In the intervening years, more than 570 Australians have lost their lives on the highway.

I have said publicly the fact that much of the Pacific Highway remains single-lane reflects poorly on governments of all persuasions.

I have also expressed my commitment to its complete duplication by 2016.

Our investment on this road so far is $4.1 billion.

I might point out that during the 12 years of the former Coalition Government, Federal spending on this critical national highway was just $1.3 billion.

We have more than tripled the funding in just over half the time.

Work underway on that highway right now makes it the biggest road construction project in the nation.

There are more than one thousand people working at sites along it – building the Bulahdelah bypass, the Kempsey bypass, the Glenugie duplication, the Sapphire to Woolgoolga duplication, the Ballina bypass and the Banora Point upgrade.

I am pleased to report that we are engaged in constructive talks with the NSW Government over the future of the total duplication plan and I welcome the O’Farrell Government’s commitment to the 2016 deadline. I believe some things must be above politics and the saving of lives on the

Pacific Highway is one of them.

 

BRUCE HIGHWAY

I can also assure you that work on the Bruce Highway is proceeding at full pace.

Our funding there now stands at $2.8 billion and I was pleased that in the recent budget, five large projects we thought would need to be deferred to free up labour and funds for flood repairs will now proceed as originally scheduled. There are some big jobs in the pipeline – such as a new section of the Townsville

Ring Road and the upgrade of interchanges between Caboolture and Caloundra.

We’re also spending $250 million to fix 80 black spots, build 25 new rest areas and install 50 overtaking lanes.

With carefully targeted improvements we are turning it into a safer, smoother link in the nation’s infrastructure.

 

SMART MOTORWAYS AND REGULATORY REFORM

The Gillard Government’s productivity agenda is not merely about building roads and rail tracks.

It’s about getting more out of our assets through use of smart infrastructure and better regulation.

In the Budget we announced an extra $61 million for Managed Motorways, where data sensors can improve real time management of vehicle movements.

Use of variable message signs has been found to increase travel speeds by 13 percent.

Ramp metering produces even higher efficiencies – increasing travel speeds by up to 26 percent and allowing greater volumes of vehicles to comfortably use the roads.

These smart systems improve the speed and flow of traffic, reduce the stop-start behaviour that occurs on congested roads, thereby reducing accidents and greenhouse gas emissions.

They also reduce the need for expensive capital upgrades that cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

But at a human level, they improve the quality of life for tired commuters by reducing the congestion that steals time from their families.

In this way, smart technology has great capacity to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable.

 

GREEN TRUCK FLEET

I’d like to say something today about the health of our national truck fleet.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that the average Australian truck is more than 14 years old.

In comparable first world countries, this figure is around eight years.

Because of their age, almost half our trucks are not subject to modern emission standards.

The Truck Industry Council estimates one of these older trucks – and remember that’s nearly half our fleet – emits on average the same particulate matter as 60 new Euro 5 trucks.

Climate change is affecting all of us.

Every industry needs to get its own house in order for the good of productivity, for the country and for the good of the planet.

 

SAFER ROADS

I’d like to turn finally to road safety – something which concerns us all.

On average, four Australians are killed on the roads every day and another 80 are seriously injured.

Looked at annually, this translates to 1400 lives lost and 32,000 people hospitalised due to accidents on the roads.

These figures are staggering and barely a family in the country has not been touched in some way by a road tragedy.

The annual cost to our economy of road crashes is around $27 billion.

The Government has recently released a strategy to address this national problem over the next decade.

It has been developed with all the States and Territories and puts forward a range of practical and evidence-based steps that can help us create a genuinely safe system of road travel.

These steps aim to reduce our death and injury rate by at least 30 per cent by 2020.

But governments cannot achieve this goal alone — road safety is a shared responsibility.

Whether we are road engineers — and I know there are a number of you here today — vehicle manufacturers, fleet operators, policy makers or individual road users – all of us need to do what we can to help meet this important target.

I know that Roads Australia made submissions during the consultation period and I thank you for your input.

 

CONCLUSION

I began today with some Roman history.

Let me conclude by bringing our lesson a little closer to home.

One of Governor Phillip’s first tasks after disembarking the personnel and stores of the First Fleet was the creation of roads and streets.

Famous for his foresight in so many things, his design for the colony’s roadways was no different.

By July 1788, he had already drawn up a city plan.

In a letter to the Secretary of the State of the Colonies, Lord Sydney, in London he wrote: “I have the honour to enclose for your Lordship the intended plan for the town of Sydney. The principal streets are placed so as to admit a free circulation of air and are two hundred foot wide.”

Sadly, this grand ambition gathered dust while Sydney’s streets grew organically along the tracks made by the bullock wagons.

But I can tell you, that where you are all sitting right now, was on the site of what might be called Australia’s first road.

Little less than a mile in length, it ran easterly past us here from the Battery at Dawes Point, across the Tank Stream to the then Governor’s Residence at the corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets.

Some decades later, when serious road building was in progress under the direction of that great nation builder Lachlan Macquarie, which style of road-building was adopted, following the principle of long, straight radial roads?

That of the Romans.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to you today about the reforms and investments we are making today to protect this nation’s future economic prosperity.

I know that an agenda of this magnitude is not one that sits easily within the Australian electoral cycle.

But we are committed to the changes I have outlined today and we will carry them out in partnership with the States and Territories and the private sector and I look forward to working with you to achieve our common goal.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Jun 1, 2011

Speech to Airservices Australia 2011 Waypoint

Speech to Airservices Australia 2011 Waypoint

National Convention Centre, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

1 June 2011

INTRODUCTION 

The first time I had the pleasure of addressing a Waypoint forum was back in 2008 – my first year as Transport Minister.

Back then, I stood under the wings of the famous G for George aircraft at the Australian War Memorial.

It’s often known as “Lucky” George because of its proud record of bringing home every crewman who flew in its 90 missions.

I like the story of its trip to Australia in 1944. The flight took almost one month and the aircraft eventually landed at Amberley, west of Brisbane.

Like a modern day celebrity, G for George was to tour the nation in a publicity blitz, raising funds for war bonds.

Before heading south, the pilot – Flight Lieutenant E A Hudson – indulged in some personal business.

He flew G for George on a brief detour north to his home town of Rockhampton where it circled the town twice to big crowds.

Hudson then landed the plane and stepped out heroically to great applause and hugs all round from his family who hadn’t seen him in four years.

Australians’ love of airplanes and the magic of flight have only intensified since those dark days of WWII.

As a vast, island nation we rely on air travel to connect us to the world and to each other.

 

BITRE REPORT

Last week, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released some remarkable figures.

In 2010, international passenger numbers at our airports rose to a record 26.8 million travellers.

That’s a nearly ten percent rise in a year.

Compare this with the growth figures in the rest of the developed world – in Europe 6.7 percent, and North America even less, at 6.2 percent.

The popularity of air travel among Australians during the worst downturn since the Great Depression is testament to the resilience of our aviation industry.

It is also a tribute to the success of our Economic Stimulus Package which was vital in sustaining strong domestic consumer confidence.

Despite this rosy picture, most of you here today know that there are some big challenges ahead of us.

I’d like today to look at our achievements as well as to the challenges ahead.

We are facing an era of unprecedented globalisation.

Today, more than ever, the aviation industry underpins our economic growth and provides a gateway to the wider, global economy.

The sector directly employs around 50,000 people and a further half a million indirectly.

It contributes about $7 billion to our gross national product.

That is why the Government removed investment obstacles at our major airports by extending tripartite deeds to 50 years, and enabling them to invest up to $9 billion in modern facilities and infrastructure.

I mentioned a moment ago the impressive international passenger numbers.

Domestically, the skies over Australia last year were the busiest they’ve ever been with just short of 54 million passengers taking almost 600,000 flights.

That’s a seven percent rise on 2009.

Every way you look at it, 2010 was a record breaker for passenger kilometres travelled, for seat capacity and the number of aircraft trips.

And it was not simply on the more established routes like Melbourne to Sydney, or Sydney to Brisbane – though all of those grew strongly.

The fastest growth of all was Gold Coast to Newcastle (up 26 per cent), Darwin – Melbourne (up nearly 20 per cent), Cairns – Melbourne (up nearly 16 per cent), Karratha – Perth (more than 13 per cent) and Adelaide – Brisbane (nearly 13 per cent).

However, there are some flashing amber lights on the horizon.

There’s the impact of the strong Australian dollar on inbound tourism.

The fluctuating cost of aviation fuel.

And ongoing concern for both the aviation sector and the broader economy about training and the need for more skilled staff.

 

WHITE PAPER

When I first spoke to you in June 2008, we were in the early stages of national consultations for Australia’s first National Aviation Policy White Paper.

Today, that White Paper, “Flight Path to the Future” has been in place for 18 months.

It is providing certainty with incentive to plan and invest for the long term.

It is helping us strengthen safety and security.

And it is addressing the needs of aviation workers, travellers and neighbouring communities.

Airservices Australia has played a central role in implementing some of the biggest initiatives in the White Paper. This includes –

  • Establishing an Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, something I am particularly proud of, given I introduced a private member’s bill to do just that over a decade ago
  • Harmonising civil and military air traffic systems
  • Deploying new and better air traffic management technology and
  • Improving procedures to optimise airspace management.

 

AIRSERVICES CAPITAL EXPENDITURE

I also welcome Airservices’ capital expenditure program of nearly $1 billion over the next five years for better services, facilities and training.

There will be:

  • New towers for Melbourne, Adelaide and Rockhampton with the latest and best air traffic control technology
  • A new combined air traffic control tower and rescue and fire fighting station at Broome, and
  • Modernisation of rescue and fire services at our busiest airports, including a new fire station at Perth Airport and six new fire trucks for Launceston and Hobart airports.

And it has put its surplus equipment to good use, providing eleven rescue and fire fighting vehicles, with training, to the Papua New Guinea National Airports Corporation.

Airservices is also leading the way in adopting satellite-based technologies to improve air-traffic management.

It is also stepping up ground-based surveillance capacity including a modern en-route radar network.

I’d encourage Airservices to keep a close eye on the impact these technologies have on communities around our airports.

 

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Let me update you on the important steps we’re taking to work with local communities.

In February this year, I issued guidelines for Community Aviation Consultation Groups and Planning Coordination Forums for our major airports.

Most of the 19 federally-leased airports now have in place Community Aviation Consultation Groups.

These groups allow airport operators, nearby residents, local authorities, airport users and stakeholders such as Airservices, to exchange information about airport operations and their impact.

Capital city airports also have in place high level Planning Coordination Forums to better integrate development planning with land transport access.

We know that aircraft noise is an inevitable by-product of aviation activity.

We must seek to minimise it where we can and provide the best possible information to those affected by it.

That is why it is vital that advanced air traffic management technology, like performance based navigation, be consistent with the Government’s policy of fair noise sharing for communities living in the vicinity of airports and under flight paths.

Still on the issue of noise, last September, the nation’s first Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, Ron Brent, began his work.

He has already delivered a valuable review into how Airservices handles noise complaints.

At the core of this review was the recommendation that the Airservices’ Noise Enquiry Unit step beyond its present information and enquiry role to that of complaint resolution, providing detailed responses to complainants.

The importance this Government gives to community engagement is demonstrated in my latest Statement of Expectations to Airservices.

In the Statement I emphasised the need for Airservices to work with stakeholders, particularly with the community and industry, before implementing major changes to air traffic management.

 

REGIONAL AND REMOTE INVESTMENT

I mentioned earlier that many of our regional centres are busier than ever.

That’s why we are looking to extend air traffic management services to cover these growing regional areas.

Enhanced surveillance and air traffic services will be in place in Launceston and Hobart shortly and at regional centres such as Alice Springs, Mackay and Coffs Harbour in the near future.

We are also determined to provide greater assistance to our more remote and isolated communities.

In this year’s Budget, we allocated $26 million over the next two years to improve the safety of airstrips at remote communities.

It is vital we support these remote communities as they rely on aviation services to connect them to the rest of Australia, and the world.

 

SYDNEY

Before I close today, let me bring you up to date on a few matters concerning our nation’s biggest airport – Sydney.

It’s been said that when Wall Street sneezes, the world catches a cold.

The same, unfortunately, can be said of Sydney airport.

Each year, about 35 million passengers flow through Sydney.

It receives 40 per cent of all international flights – twice that of Melbourne.

And it’s the heart of our domestic network, with 25 per cent of all national passengers flowing through Sydney.

So, unsurprisingly, even a relatively minor hold up at Sydney can flow right across the nation, disrupting the plans of thousands of travellers.

Let me give you an example from analysis prepared for the joint study into Sydney’s aviation capacity.

By 2015, if bad weather reduced Sydney’s runways to 55 flights an hour in the 7-9am peak, it would take about three hours, or until noon, for the airport’s schedule to recover.

By 2020, the same morning delay would set back the flight timetable by around five hours, or until 2pm.

Every piece of research shows that the pressure on Sydney airport will continue to build.

With no breaches of the 80 movements per hour cap in the previous decade, we saw several last year.

Sydney is getting busier.

Passenger numbers are expected to double in the next 20 years.

Something has got to give, or the Australian economy will suffer.

Business will go elsewhere if they can’t get into Sydney.

Tourists will choose other destinations.

We will see lost productivity as delays build and demand cannot be met.

I noted this during the most recent Master Plan process.

For this reason, the Australian and NSW Governments have joined together to identify not only a location for a second airport, but solutions to the many challenges facing air services in the Sydney basin.

We need to reduce the pressure on Sydney Airport – the reliability of our national network depends on it.

 

CONCLUSION

Let me conclude by launching today an important document – the annual report on domestic airline activity for 2010 by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

This Bureau is a source of extremely valuable information.

It supplies not just my department and my office, but the people of Australia with the latest data on our sector which it analyses, makes sense of and then releases to the wider world.

In this way, it plays a central role in the creation of Government policy.

It shows us, today, just how resilient is this vital and dynamic sector of the Australian economy.

And it helps us identify those flashing amber lights so we can tackle problems before they overwhelm us.

It is my pleasure to launch this report here today before this important audience.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

May 26, 2011

Speech to 2011 Australian Trucking Convention

Speech to 2011 Australian Trucking Convention – Working with the Trucking Industry to Raise Productivity

National Convention Centre, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

26 May 2011

INTRODUCTION

Thank you for the warm welcome – and good afternoon everyone.

Before I begin I would like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people – the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present.

I also want to acknowledge:

  • ATA board members and councillors
  • Arne Knaben, president and CEO of Volvo Group Australia and the representatives of the other ATA Foundation Sponsors; and finally,
  • the founders of the ATA, who have gathered here this year to mark the association’s 20th anniversary.

It is a measure of your commitment to the industry’s safety and professionalism that you have stayed involved for all these years.

I’d like to start by thanking you for this chance to bring you up to date on the Australian Government’s land transport reforms.

An agenda with two big aims:

  • delivering higher productivity in our vital freight sector
  • improving safety for the men and women who work with heavy vehicles.

This is an important gathering — the peak national forum for the freight and trucking industry.

You are the people who keep this country moving.

You are the people who keep our towns and cities connected.

You are the people who move goods from the farm gate to the factories, to the shops and the ports.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the future prosperity of this country rests squarely on the shoulders of your industry.

Because it is your industry that will be called on to meet and service the growth in interstate and international trade.

Our international trade alone is scheduled to double by 2030, and triple by 2050.

 

PRODUCTIVITY

In the 1990s, thanks to the reforms of the Hawke-Keating governments, Australia was near the top of the world when it came to productivity growth.

Since then, Australia’s productivity growth has dropped from 2 per cent in the 1990s to just 1.4 per cent today.

This is the lowest average in half a century.

The Gillard Government is absolutely clear that a key to reversing this, are improvements to our infrastructure and transport systems.

That’s why right now we have underway an enormous reform agenda, with a record investment of $27 billion in this nation’s roads.

We know that higher productivity can be achieved:

  • by reducing costs and red tape through the introduction of single national regulators.
  • by making our roads safer with betters conditions for drivers
  • and by replacing Australia’s ageing truck fleet with newer, cleaner more fuel-efficient vehicles.

 

OUR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT AGENDA

Let us look at the ways this Government is supporting your sector.

And I must say it’s an exciting and busy time to be the Federal Transport Minister.

We are tending to the nation’s immediate transport infrastructure needs with our giant Nation Building Program which we announced in 2008 to improve our roads, rail and ports.

It is the largest transport infrastructure investment in Australian history.

In total, there are 158 major road and rail projects underway in every State and Territory in the country.

We have also addressed more than 600 black spots and dangerous rail crossings.

I am particularly proud that the Budget provides more than $1 billion additional funding for the Pacific Highway bringing our total commitment to $4.1 billion.

This is three times more than the Coalition Government spent during its time in office.

It’s now 22 years since 57 people died in two terrible bus crashes on the Pacific Highway.

It’s a sad reflection on governments of all persuasions that despite coronial inquiries urging that duplication of this highway, it is still not done.

The Gillard Government is committed to completing this work by 2016 and talks are underway with the NSW Government to make this happen.

And in the recent Budget, we announced that five projects along Queensland’s Bruce Highway that we thought would have to be deferred to free-up skilled workers and funds for the urgent repair task after the floods, would now proceed as originally scheduled.

So you can see, it’s a busy time in my portfolio.

The stark facts are that when Labor came to office in 2007 infrastructure development and nation building was not on the agenda.

Australia ranked 20th out of 25 OECD countries when it came to investing in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income.

This lack of investment was cutting almost one percent off annual growth.

Put simply, many of our roads and rail networks were not capable of meeting the demands of the rapidly growing Australian economy.

In three years, we have turned this around by lifting expenditure on public infrastructure as a proportion of national income by more than 30 percent.

We know there’s still a lot of work to be done.

And we always said it would take more than one or two parliamentary terms to put right a decade of neglect.

That’s why during the course of our second term we are building on our program of reform and investment.

We are now finalising the implementation plan for the first ever National Ports Strategy which the Prime Minister and I launched in January.

We have released the draft of the first ever National Freight Strategy.

These are long term blueprints which will guide future public and private investment in our roads, railways and ports.

They include plans for Australia’s first truly national, integrated freight system, linked by a series of intermodals.

So, faster, smoother movement of freight around our nation, saving the transport industry time and money.

 

SMART MOTORWAYS AND NATIONAL REGULATORS

The Gillard Government’s productivity agenda is not merely about new infrastructure.

It’s about getting more out of our assets through use of smart infrastructure and better regulation.

In the Budget we announced $61 million to invest in Smart Motorways, where data sensors on our major highways can improve real time vehicle movements.

The technology improves the speed and flow of traffic, reducing the stop-start behaviour of congested roads, reducing accidents and harmful emissions.

We are also tackling something that has beset the transport industry since Federation.

I probably don’t need to remind any of you here today about the multitude of transport safety laws in Australia.

They differ with each State and Territory – and just to improve matters – the Commonwealth has some too!

So, competing and sometimes contradictory rules requiring mounds of red-tape and excessive compliance costs.

Just a couple of examples – fatigue rules vary greatly, depending which state you’re driving through on any given day.

And on some roads, B-doubles are fine, but drive across the border on the same road and you’re breaking the law.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates that transport regulatory reform will deliver up to $30 billion in economic benefit and productivity over the next 20 years.

That is why we are working towards the introduction in 2013 of single national safety regulators – three in total – one for heavy vehicles, one for rail safety and one for maritime safety.

I note that Richard Hancock, the head of the NHVR Project Office who addressed you earlier this afternoon has described this reform as a victory for common sense.

A single regulator for heavy vehicles that has taken only 110 years to achieve!

Ministers will vote on the new national laws in November and the Bill will be introduced into the Queensland Parliament by the end of the year, providing the model for the other states to follow.

I call on all of you here today to help back in this important reform.

We cannot allow state governments to delay – together we need to remind them why businesses and truck drivers deserve reform.

 

A GREENER TRUCK FLEET

Let’s turn now to the health of our national fleet.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that the average Australian truck is more than 14 years old.

In Western Europe, North America or Japan, this figure is around eight years.

Because of their age, almost half our trucks are not subject to modern emissions standards.

The Truck Industry Council estimates they emit on average the same particulate matter as 60 new Euro 5 trucks – let me repeat that – 60 modern trucks.

Climate change is affecting all of us.

Every industry needs to get its own house in order for the good of the country, for the good of our planet.

 

HEAVY VEHICLE REST AREAS

Many drivers will have noticed the work we have done to improve rest stops.

We’re spending $70 million over four years to upgrade 104 existing stops and to build 47 new ones.

Long distance truck driving is a tough and often lonely job that takes you away from your home and your family.

A safe spot to park your vehicle with toilets and washing facilities is one way this Government can help make the job a little easier.

And of course, a decent rest means a safer trip for drivers and everyone else on the road.

 

SAFER ROADS

Finally, let’s look more closely at road safety — something I know is close to all your hearts.

Every day on average, four people are killed and 80 people are seriously injured on our roads.

Annually, this translates to 1,400 lives lost and 32,000 hospitalised due to road crashes.

These figures are staggering and there’s barely a family in the country that has not been touched in some way by a road tragedy.

The annual cost to our economy is estimated to be around $27 billion.

The Government does not believe these figures are acceptable.

We don’t believe any death on the roads is acceptable.

Just last week, my Parliamentary Secretary, Catherine King, released a strategy to address this national problem over the next decade.

It has been developed by all states and territories and puts forwards a range of practical and evidence-based steps that can help us create a genuinely safe system of road travel.

But governments cannot achieve this alone.

Road safety is a shared responsibility.

And I’d like to thank those of you here today who contributed to the public consultation process so far.

 

CONCLUSION

This Government will never cease in our efforts to build a stronger, fairer, more productive Australia.

And I know it’s a goal that we share with you, the transport industry.

I’ve outlined this afternoon just some of the reforms that we have underway right now.

And I hope you understand why I said at the outset that it is a great time to be the federal minister responsible for them.

Whatever area of Australia’s vital transport industry you come from, I look forward to working with you as we achieve these reforms together.

I’ll finish by saying that on the way in this afternoon, I caught a brief glimpse of some big rigs you’ve got parked out the back.

Very impressive.

Good luck with the remainder of the week’s program — including tonight’s outback party and auction.

Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you today.

[ENDS]

May 18, 2011

Post budget speech to the Property Council of Australia

Post budget speech to the Property Council of Australia

Hilton Hotel, Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

18 May 2011

Building Productive, Sustainable and Liveable Cities

Some of you here this morning will be familiar with the work of Jane Jacobs.

The great American thinker and author of The Economy of Cities was not an architect, or a town planner.

But her ideas, that seemed so radical when she first wrote about them, did more to shape the face of American cities in the second half of the 20th century than just about anyone else.

She was particularly critical of urban sprawl and planning styles that destroyed communities, separated land uses and rebuilt sterile areas.

And she was a fierce advocate for citizen involvement in vision making and comprehensive planning.

Though she died five years ago, her theories about the ways cities work can be seen in academic discussion across the world. In reviewing her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the New York Times wrote that Jacob’s prescription for successful cities was to bring “people and activities together in a jumping, joyous urban jumble.”

Many of you here today would have followed the recent progress of the Federal Government’s work to formulate a national urban policy.

It complements our work on regional development and sustainable population.

And before I talk to you about our urban policy – which I am delighted to be launching before you today – I’d like to remind you that modern federal involvement in cities policy goes back to Gough Whitlam.

It was Gough and his Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Tom Uren, who dared to wade in with the novel suggestion that all new urban developments in our capital cities should have basic water and sewerage systems.

The tradition was then continued under Hawke and Keating with the Better Cities Program which set out to revitalise inner city communities.

Unfortunately, it was one of the first programs abolished by the incoming Howard Government.

Now, a Labor Government is again re-engaging with our nation’s cities.

And this time, no-one could claim we have not followed the Jane Jacobs model of citizen involvement.

This year alone, forums have been held in our 18 major cities across the country and I thank those of you here today who contributed your ideas.

The Federal Government has a critical role to play in making our cities more productive, more sustainable and more liveable.

Despite the romantic view of ourselves as nation of rough, tough bushies, Australia is one of the most urbanised nations on the planet.

Cities are the principal centres of economic activity.

They account for around 80 percent of our GDP and employ three out of every four Australian workers.

They are where labour, industry and social institutions are most concentrated.

We are hardly alone here.

About 12 months ago, the world reached a milestone.

According to the World Bank, for the first time in human history, more than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas.

We are drawn to cities for all kinds of reasons – work, culture, lifestyle and educational opportunities are just some of them.

But in Australia, we cannot ignore the fact that our cities are under strain.

Congestion is costing us dearly.

Not only does it steal time from our work and family lives, it is also a major economic drain.

The Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics estimates that if left unattended congestion will cost our economy $20 billion by 2020.

Just one reason why this Government is back in the business of cities. Not because it’s easy, not because it’s without risks, but because it’s necessary. Productivity is, of course, the key to maintaining our place in the fastest growing and most dynamic region in the world.

Due to the microeconomic reforms of the 1980s and early 90s, our productivity soared to an average of 2.3 percent by the late 1990s.

Unfortunately, the effects of those reforms were worn away during the following decade to the point where between 2000 and 2008, our average annual productivity growth fell to just 1.6 percent.

If productivity growth is left to languish, Australia will stagnate and struggle to keep pace with our neighbours.

That is not something this Government is prepared to let happen.

That’s why last year at COAG, the Commonwealth got agreement from State and Territory Leaders to have in place strategic plans for their capital cities by 1 January 2012.

Future Commonwealth infrastructure investment will be linked to these plans and the principles laid out in our national urban policy.

Right now, the COAG Reform Council is reviewing capital city plans against the nationally agreed criteria.

The outcome of this work will not only help us implement a national urban policy.

It will also help inform the Federal Government’s recently released national population strategy and our Regional Policy agenda.

We would like to see cities with populations greater than 100,000 put in place similar plans.

Let me be clear, this is not a takeover of State and Territory planning roles, but we will use all the levers at our disposal to drive, foster and encourage the creation of more productive, sustainable and liveable cities.

That is what the policy I am launching here today is all about.

So let’s look at what we are doing to make our cities better places for all Australians.

And it comes down to the three themes of our urban agenda – Productivity, Sustainability and Liveability.

 

Productivity

We’ve made record investments in productive infrastructure, including some $18 billion in urban rail and road infrastructure.

We’ve increased average annual spending on rail more than tenfold.

We have invested more on urban rail since coming to office in 2007 than all previous governments – collectively – since Federation.

We now have a major urban rail project commitment in every mainland state capital:

Noarlunga to Seaford rail extension & Gawler Line in Adelaide;

  • The Perth City Link Project;
  • Moreton Bay Rail line in Brisbane;
  • Regional Rail Link in Melbourne;
  • The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link in Sydney;
  • As well as the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project.

We’re also about to begin much needed improvements with an $840 million investment in Sydney’s freight rail system that will help free up space on the passenger network.

We are also improving the efficiency of our urban infrastructure by improving connectivity via the National Broadband Network.

In last Tuesday’s Budget we announced a new Infrastructure Investment Incentive, aimed at attracting up to $25 billion worth of private and superannuation sector investment in national infrastructure.

We need to attract more private investment to fund much needed infrastructure and this new incentive will encourage that.

Projects that are ticked off by Infrastructure Australia will be eligible for this incentive.

We will be making better use of smart technologies.

In the Budget we announced an extra $61 million for Managed Motorways, where data sensors can improve real time management of vehicle movements.

Such systems improve the speed and flow of traffic, reducing the stop-start behaviour that occurs on congested roads – reducing accidents and greenhouse gas emissions.

Supporting Managed Motorways will be our $100 million Suburban Jobs program, which will see more jobs created outside central CBDs, reducing travel times and distances for our city workers.

 

Sustainability

This Government is determined to make our cities sustainable cities.

The nature of our cities provides opportunity to exploit economies of scale to reduce our impact on the environment. How cities are planned, their density and spread and the infrastructure within them provide enormous opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.

There are real opportunities for improvement in specific areas including waste, water and energy.

The leadership of the Sydney City Council with its proposals for Green Square shows a practical example of visionary, sustainable policy development.

There are further gains to be made through larger systems such as land use and settlement patterns, particularly the location of employment areas in relation to residential development and public transport.

We need to manage our natural resources better and incorporate climate change risks into infrastructure location, design, construction and operation.

In this way, we can mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as the recent floods across Eastern Australia.

The Budget also delivered support for the Henry Review’s recommendation to replace the current tax formula for motor vehicle fringe benefits with a single rate of 20 percent, regardless of kilometres travelled.

This is a practical measure which will make a real difference.

 

Liveability

In last week’s budget, we announced $20 million in seed funding over two years to start investing in high quality urban renewal demonstration projects that enhance the liveability of our cities and create better public spaces and streetscapes.

We want to encourage a better supply of appropriate mixed income housing for people of all ages and abilities, both in metropolitan and regional cities.

Last year’s 2010 Intergenerational Report also urged a national approach to our cities.

We know that our cities are continuing to grow. At the same time, the makeup of the population is changing.

The proportion of our population aged 65 and over will nearly double from 14 percent to 23 percent by mid-century.

That means a smaller workforce and an eroded tax base.

We therefore need to be smarter about how we attract and sustain our workers, with a variety of affordable housing and job opportunities close to home.

The design of our cities must ensure that spatially concentrated social disadvantage is addressed.

Too many of our cities have areas defined by their lack of access to jobs, educational opportunities and services.

A major theme of the Budget was ensuring that Australia takes advantage of the projected economic growth in the years ahead to emerge as a more inclusive society that engages with all of our people.

Providing training and prospects of employment is good for individuals, but also in the national interest.

Engagement in economic activity by individuals will lead to greater engagement in recreational, cultural and sporting pursuits that add to our fulfilment as individuals but also help define our cities’ liveability.

 

Conclusion

The Australian Government wants a prosperous and resilient future for Australia with cities that lead the world in their productivity, sustainability and liveability.

The National Urban Policy signifies our commitment to just that end and I am proud to release it here today. It is just the next step forward and I don’t profess it has all the answers.

It will however promote further dialogue and discussion, which will in turn lead to further action.

As Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems we face can’t be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

May 16, 2011

Speech to annual conference of Transport Workers’ Union

Speech to annual conference of Transport Workers’ Union

Joondalup, Western Australia

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

16 May 2011

Working with unions to build a safe, smooth and effective national transport system

 

Unions are one of the foundations upon which this nation is built. No other institution has done more to define Australia as a fair and decent place than the union movement.

Fair wages, decent working hours and conditions are achievements that have made a profound difference to lives of everyday Australians. That is why there will always be a place for unions in this country.

The Gillard Labor Government knows this.

And we know it’s particularly true of the TWU.

Your 90,000 members work across the country – in aviation, oil, waste management, gas, road transport, passenger vehicles and freight logistics.

These are difficult and at times dangerous occupations.

They also lie at the core of our nation’s economic activity and prosperity.

 

Working with Unions to Deliver Our Agenda

The transport sector generates up to 14.5 percent of Australia’s GDP and employs in excess of a million people across 165,000 companies.

This means that efficiencies in this giant sector inevitably result in cheaper costs for consumers and national productivity gains.

The Gillard Government understands this.

And we welcome our relationship with the union movement as a long term partner driving our economic productivity.

A partnership which acts in the interests of the many, not the few.

The fact that this relationship annoys Tony Abbott so much is just a bonus.

 

The Government’s Infrastructure and Transport Agenda

Let us look at the ways this Government is supporting your sector.

And I must say it’s an exciting time to be the Federal Transport Minister.

We are tending to the nation’s immediate transport infrastructure needs with our $36 billion Nation Building Program which we announced in 2008 to improve our roads, rail and ports.

Numbers roll of the tongue but the amount of $36 billion should not.

Because it is the largest every transport infrastructure investment in Australian history.

We have doubled the roads budget.

We have increased spending on rail more than tenfold.

We’re rebuilding one-third of the interstate rail freight network.

We have spent more on urban rail since coming to office in 2007 than all previous governments – collectively – since Federation.

In total, there are 158 major road and rail projects underway in every State and territory in the country.

We have also addressed more than 600 black spots and dangerous rail crossings, helping make our roads safer for everyone.

And in last week’s Federal Budget we allocated just under $1 billion in further funding for the Nation Building Program, on top of $390 million for projects in the Regional Infrastructure Fund – all good news for drivers, making our roads better and safer.

The Budget provide over $1 billion additional funding for the Pacific Highway bringing our total commitment to $4.1 billion. This represents more than triple the funding in half the time compared with the Howard years of neglect.

We brought forward 5 projects on Queensland’s Bruce Highway, in addition to the massive resources going toward reconstruction from the natural disasters early this year.

Here in the West the investment we’re making is almost twice what the former

Howard Government spent over a similar period of time.

Projects we are providing funding include:

• New funding of up to $480 million for the Perth Gateway Project

• $280 million to widen the Great Eastern Highway from four to six lanes between Kooyong Road and the Tonkin Highway

• $154 million to realign the Great Northern Highway at Port Hedland

• $236 million for sinking the railway line through Perth’s CBD, a central component of the visionary Perth City Link project which will reunite the City’s retail district with the Northbridge entertainment precinct.

• $118.6 million to extend the Bunbury Port Access Road and constructing the first stage of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road.

• $350 million for planning on the Kewdale Intermodal Rail Supply Chain and constructing a rail passing loop outside Fremantle Port, the first part of the Perth Urban Transport and Freight Corridor Upgrade Project.

• $60 million to upgrade road and rail access to Esperance Port.

We’ve also continued a range of initiatives designed to make our highways and local roads safer:

• $7.5 million to eliminate 46 dangerous black spots on local roads;

• $2.5 million to build and refurbish rest stops and the other roadside facilities used by truck drivers.

So you can see, it’s a busy time in my portfolio.

The stark facts are that when Labor came to office in 2007 infrastructure development and nation building was not on the agenda.

Australia ranked 20th out of 25 OECD countries when it came to investing in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income.

This lack of investment was cutting almost one percent off annual growth.

Put simply, many of our roads and rail networks were not capable of meeting the demands of the rapidly growing Australian economy.

In three years, we have turned this around by lifting expenditure on public infrastructure as a proportion of national income by more than 30 percent.

We know there’s still a lot of work to be done.

And we always said it would take more than one or two parliamentary terms to put right a decade of neglect.

That’s why during the course of our second term we are building on our program of reform and investment.

We Are now finalising the implementation plan for the first ever National Ports Strategy which the Prime Minister and I launched here in Perth in January.

We have released the draft of the first ever National Freight Strategy.

These are long term blueprints which will guide future public and private investment in our roads, railways and ports.

What this will provide for the people of Australia is:

• a freeing up of bottlenecks at our ports

• planning certainty for long-term expansion at and around our ports

• and the first truly national, integrated freight system, linked by a series of intermodals.

These intermodals – or freight transfer points – mean that goods going to or coming from our ports, or from interstate via the national road and rail network, will be redirected to their ultimate destination in the fastest time, with the minimum of handling.

So faster, smoother movement of freight around our nation, reducing freight bottlenecks, saving the transport industry time and money.

 

National Regulators

The Gillard Government’s productivity agenda is not merely about new infrastructure.

It’s about getting more out of our assets through use of smart infrastructure and better regulation.

In the Budget we announced $61 million for a National Smart Managed Motorways Trial.

This program will fund smart infrastructure road projects identified by

Infrastructure Australia as demonstrating high benefit cost ratios and improving traffic flows in our major cities.

We are also tackling something that has beset the transport industry since Federation.

I probably don’t need to remind any of you here today about the multitude of transport safety laws in Australia.

For the road freight sector alone, there are a vast range of different laws and regulations from eight different jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, governing the safe operation of heavy vehicles.

That means competing and sometimes contradictory rules, requiring mounds of red-tape and excessive compliance costs.

For example, truck drivers transporting hay bales in Victoria can carry more across the width of their truck than in NSW.

So, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to cross the border, you’ve got to rearrange your load – if you don’t and you’re caught, there’s a fine and loss of points.

Every one of you knows that the fatigue rules vary greatly, depending which state you’re driving through on any given day.

And on some roads, B-double trucks are fine, but drive across the border on the same road and you’re breaking the law.

In 2006, the Productivity Commission estimated that getting rid of these antiquated and farcical inconsistencies would raise our GDP by two percent, or in dollars terms, by $2.4 billion.

That is why we are working towards the introduction in 2013 of single national safety regulators – three in total – one for heavy vehicles, one for rail safety and one for maritime safety.

So, a single set of uniform rules – and a victory for common sense – that will have taken a bit over 110 years to achieve.

Safe Rates

Another important piece of work underway is the move towards safe rates for drivers.

I know it is an issue that the TWU is committed to and has campaigned strongly on.

While it falls under the portfolio of the Minister for Workplace Relations, Chris Evans, I can assure you that the Government as a whole takes the issue of safe rates very seriously and we continue to work towards a solution to this complex matter.

To this end, Minister Evans has given Senator Jacinta Collins active responsibility for it and I understand she will be holding further talks with you this week during the course of this conference.

Heavy Vehicle Rest Areas

I have had positive feedback from many of you who sit behind the wheel of the improvements we have made to rest stops.

We’re spending $70 million over four years to upgrade 104 existing stops and to build 47 new ones.

The Heavy Vehicle Productivity and Safety Program is the first Commonwealth dedicated program of its kind and I am proud of it, although I recognise there is much more to do.

Long distance truck driving is a tough and often lonely job that takes you away from your home and your family.

A safe spot to park your vehicle with toilets and facilities is one way this Government can help make your job a little easier.

And of course, a decent rest means a safer trip for drivers and everyone else on the road.

 

Safer Roads

Finally, let’s look more closely at road safety, something I know is close to all your hearts.

Each day four people are killed and 80 people are seriously injured on our roads.

Every year, about 1,500 people die and a further 30,000 are hospitalised as the result of road crashes.

The cost of all this to Australia is $27 billion.

The Gillard Government does not believe these figures are acceptable.

We don’t believe any death on the roads is acceptable.

In December, my Parliamentary Secretary, Catherine King, released a draft National Road Safety Strategy for 2011 to 2020 for public comment.

It has been developed collaboratively by all states and territories and looks at our whole road transport system and the interaction between its constituent parts: roads, vehicles and, of course, the people who use them.

It puts forward a range of practical and evidence-based steps that we can take to start creating a genuinely safe system of road travel. Governments cannot achieve this alone.

I appreciate the support the TWU have given to help Australia reach this important goal.

 

Conclusion

Let me conclude by assuring you that this Labor Government will never cease in our efforts to build a stronger, fairer, more productive Australia.

And I know it’s a goal that we share with you – the TWU.

We are supporting you with unprecedented spending on our transport infrastructure and through the introduction of single national transport regulators.

We are also introducing new strategies at our ports and to improve the way we move freight around our nation.

And we are supporting you through our commitment to safer roads.

We look to all of you here today –– to work alongside us while we roll out these important reforms.

Whatever sector of Australia’s vital transport industry you work in, I look forward to working with you – and all 90,000 of your members – as we achieve these important reforms.

Thank you for the opportunity to outline them to you today.

[ENDS]

May 5, 2011

Speech to the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue on the Maritime Labour Convention

Speech to the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue on the Maritime Labour Convention

Cairns

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

Thursday, 5 May 2011

“The Australian Government’s support for the Maritime Labour Convention and reforms to shipping”

Introduction

I extend my warmest welcome to every delegate, but in particular, to our visitors from the 19 seafaring nations who have come to our shores for this important gathering.

Your presence reminds us, if we indeed we needed reminding, that shipping is a genuinely global industry.

You represent industry, governments and unions and demonstrate the immense influence shipping has, every day, on international trade and the economic importance of nation states.

It is an industry that is subject to some of the biggest challenges of our time — climate change, the global financial crisis, co-operative treaties, piracy, the list goes on.

As the largest island continent on earth, Australia’s economic future is inextricably linked to safe and productive shipping.

Let’s look at some quick facts.

More than 99 per cent of Australia’s international exports and imports are carried by sea.

This represents the world’s fifth largest shipping task.

Our busy ports manage 10 percent of the world’s sea trade.

We are responsible for some 16 million square kilometres of ocean and a coastline of over 60 thousand kilometres.

Over 4,000 internationally-flagged vessels make more than 22,000 visits to Australian ports each year, many of them moving through the environmentally sensitive Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef.

Clearly, shipping is vital to the Australian economy.

Along with the benefits come responsibilities that we take very seriously.

AUSTRALIA’S COMMITMENT TO THE IMO

Central to these responsibilities is our commitment to the International Maritime Organization.

We insist that the many ships that use our waters are safe.

We insist that they are manned by skilled seafarers able to navigate our waters without causing pollution due to sub-standard vessels, poor equipment, collisions or groundings.

Australia is a founding member of the IMO.

We have served on the IMO Council for more than 40 years and our adoption and implementation of IMO conventions is almost unparalleled.

We take our membership seriously.

Late last year, we stepped up our engagement with the appointment of John Dauth, Australia’s High Commissioner in London, as Australia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO.

We want to see the IMO remain strong, relevant and responsive.

This year, we will work hard to help the IMO deliver an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

We will once again be seeking election to the IMO Council this November so we can continue to be part of its important work.

Australia is a major contributor to the IMO’s technical cooperation activities in the Asia Pacific.

In this way, we can make sure that the voice of the region is heard.

THE MLC AND A FAIR GO

Let me turn now to the Maritime Labour Convention.

This convention is often referred to as the “seafarers’ bill of rights” as it sets a benchmark for decent working and living conditions for the world’s 1.2 million seafarers.

The Labour Convention is backed up by other complementary IMO conventions, providing global standards for a global industry.

If cargo is to be transported efficiently by ships, it is essential to ensure that accidents, which lead to pollution, injury or death, are minimised.

This can only be achieved by ensuring that all ships are seaworthy and that those entering and leaving Australian ports are manned by well- qualified crews with safe and humane working conditions.

We cannot expect seafarers subject to third world living and working conditions to provide first world shipping services.

Last year was the International Year of the Seafarer.

It was a tribute to seafarers who do not enjoy a high public profile.

Most of their work is out of sight of the general public.

They work on a gruelling round-the-clock basis, away from family and friends for extended periods.

In fact the famous 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson somewhat harshly described life on a ship as “being in jail, with the chance of being drowned.”

While conditions for seafarers are generally more comfortable in the 21st century, shipping is by its nature an isolating and demanding occupation.

And I could think of no better tribute to those who spend their working lives aboard them than the implementation of the Maritime Labor Convention.

This convention sets minimum standards for seafarers – employment, accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering, health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection.

I am pleased to report that in Australia, implementation of the MLC is strongly supported by both maritime unions and employers.

The Australian Government will implement the Maritime Labor Convention through its Navigation Amendment Bill, which I plan to introduce to Parliament during the winter sitting.

The Bill will also provide for the issuing of declarations of maritime labour compliance and maritime labour certificates to Australian ships.

All Australian ships with a gross tonnage of 500 and over will be required to carry the certificate both in and out of Australian waters.

Further, Australian Maritime Safety Authority surveyors will be empowered to inspect all ships at Australian ports to ensure they comply with the requirements of the Convention.

And our ships will be subject to similar inspections at foreign ports in countries that are signatories to the MLC.

Let me turn now to the other maritime reform programs the Gillard Labor Government has underway.

Single National Maritime Safety Regulator

We are in the process of introducing a single national maritime regulator.

In 2013, this responsibility will fall to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

This means AMSA will be responsible for the safety regulation of all commercial vessels in Australian waters under a seamless, national framework.

The importance of this reform can hardly be overstated.

Safer, nationally consistent rules.

And a big reduction in costs and red tape.

Something that has not been achieved in the 110 years since Federation.

The reform will include a national register of domestic commercial vessels linking ownership with such things as vessel details, inspection and survey history to provide comprehensive data for more effective monitoring.

It will also be easier for vessel owners, operators and suppliers to meet design, construction, and certification requirements.

This will mean lower costs for business and labour by eliminating barriers to the transfer of labour and vessels between jurisdictions.

Rewrite of the Navigation Act 1912

We are also rewriting the Navigation Act 1912.

The problems presented by the current Navigation Act are long- established and were highlighted during a major review in 2000.

Indeed there are provisions in the current Act that come straight from the 19th Century British Merchant Shipping Acts of 1854 and 1894.

Let me give you an example.

There is a section that allows AMSA to use force to suppress any “plundering, disorder or obstruction” when a ship is wrecked, stranded or in distress.

If any person is killed, maimed or hurt when resisting an AMSA officer doing his or her job in relation to this ship, AMSA is not liable for any punishment or damages.

So it’s not only James Bond who has a licence to kill. So it seems do AMSA officers!

Let me reassure you that one of the chief advocates for legislative reform is AMSA.

The new act will be: – recast in modern plain language; – it will reflect contemporary conditions and practices, including in relation to compliance and penalties; – it will be flexible enough to allow amendments in relation to international treaties; and – it will provide confidence and certainty for the shipping industry.

The rewrite of the act is closely linked to the implementation of the single national regulator.

Consultations with stakeholders on the details of the rewrite will begin soon.

Shipping Reform

Finally, to shipping reform.

I’ve already given you some pretty impressive figures—about the size of Australia, our coastline, our shipping task.

Here are some less impressive figures.

Despite more than 99 per cent of exports leaving our shore by ship, we have only 30 registered major trading ships of our own and these carry less than half of one percent of our export trade.

This is a decline of almost 50 per cent in a decade.

What this means is that without significant economic and regulatory reform our entire merchant fleet, and the skilled workforce it trains and supports, could be gone within another decade.

The Gillard Labor Government will not let this happen.

We are committed to a series of reforms to reverse this and help re-establish Australia as an international shipping force.

We will introduce new tax arrangements to attract investment.

We will overhaul seafarer training and offer a better deal for Australian seafarers.

We will update the license system to create a level playing field in the coastal shipping trade – our own ‘blue highway’.

What these reforms will do is provide the industry with the policy certainty it needs to make long term investment decisions.

Our ambition is simple: a viable domestic shipping industry within a competitive national transport sector — an outcome which will help secure both our long term economic prosperity and national and environmental security.

CONCLUSION

Let me conclude by saying that Australia has a long history of support for international treaties.

We know that global industries require global regulation and global challenges require a global response.

Australia also has a long commitment to regional co-operation and shared support, whether in humanitarian aid, or the lending of resources and experience to increase capacity.

The Maritime Labor Convention represents these values—of fairness, co-operation and international regulation.

And it has the full support of the Australian Government.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Mar 9, 2011

Economic Reform – the pathway to high growth, participation and productivity

Economic Reform – the pathway to high growth, participation and productivity

Speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I’m delighted to be here today as a guest of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Congratulations to CEDA on recently celebrating your 50th birthday.

Australia is a vastly different nation today than it was in 1960 when Sir Douglas Copland established CEDA.

We have been through four recessions, one global financial crisis and 20 federal elections.

Our population has risen from 10.3 million to 22.5 million, and is older and much more diverse.

And productivity growth has helped drive an increase of about 170 per cent per capita GDP since 1960.

Being productive is hard work.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice finds herself running alongside the Red Queen but getting nowhere.

A perplexed Alice asks why.

The Red Queen responds that in her country

"….it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Australians know this feeling when it comes to productivity reform.

If we want productivity growth that really makes a difference we need to run fast and keep running.

Imagine if the Hawke and Keating governments had simply stopped after floating the dollar and lifting exchange controls in 1983.

We would have been left with a globally uncompetitive economy.

That the Hawke and Keating governments kept their shoulders to the wheel yielded huge benefits for Australia.

Our productivity growth soared to an average of 2.3 per cent in the late 1990s.

This growth was not the end in itself, it was the means by which incomes could rise and we could fund new social programs.

Unfortunately, the effects of these reforms were then worn away during 12 years of neglect.

Between 2000 and 2008, the average annual productivity growth fell to just 1.6 per cent.[2]

Paul Krugman – the 2008 Nobel winner for economics – famously said,

“Productivity is not everything, but in the long run it is almost everything”.

In her CEDA speech last month, the Prime Minister sketched out a reform agenda.

It is one that will match that of the Hawke and Keating governments.

It will help carry Australia back into a high growth, high participation, and high productivity economy.

But it demands a swag of tough decisions.

It means pricing carbon to encourage new investment in sustainable renewable energy.

Building the national broadband network to give Australians, wherever they live, the chance to be part of the modern economy.

And investing in the infrastructure that eases the bottlenecks and improves the movement of people and freight around the nation.

Treasury figures show that if productivity growth were to rise by two per cent per annum, we would see incomes grow over the next four decades by around $16,000 in today’s dollars, vastly improving living standards and our capacity to fund government services.

There has never been a more important time for investment in Australia’s infrastructure.

We face challenges from congestion and from an ageing and growing population.

And we can only take full advantage of the unprecedented increase in our terms of trade if we get our transport system and logistics up to scratch.

When the Government took office in 2007, we were faced with 12 years of underinvestment in infrastructure.

We ranked 20th of 25 OECD countries when it came to investing in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income.

A DECADE OF NATION BUILDING

The Gillard Government is determined to turn this around.

Away from a decade of neglect to a decade of nation building.

In the Government’s first term we started by making infrastructure a national priority.

We created the first Department of Infrastructure and I became Australia’s first Infrastructure Minister – a role I feel genuinely privileged to have been given to fix infrastructure governance.

We established Infrastructure Australia with a long term, national focus on infrastructure policy development.

It is bringing together the public and private sectors, and working with state and territory governments.

It promotes best practice, such as the first ever nationally consistent Public Private Partnership guidelines to lower the costs for companies bidding on projects.

And we have not stopped at structural reforms. There is a huge amount of concrete, bitumen, steel and fibre being laid.

We are putting our money where our mouth is with the biggest nation building program this country has ever seen.

In 1999-2000, total infrastructure investment made up 5.5 per cent of our GDP.

By 2009-2010, the percentage of GDP invested in infrastructure had grown to 7.3 per cent.

This partly reflects our investment of $37 billion over six years in vital economic infrastructure such as rail, road and ports through the Nation Building Program.

We have doubled investment in roads.

We have increased annual spending on rail more than tenfold.

I am proud that the Labor Government since 2007 has committed more to urban passenger rail expansion than any government in all the preceding 107 years since Federation.

Right now, we’re funding 10 projects – at a cost of $7.3 billion.

On top of this is a massive investment in future communications through the National Broadband Network, and investing in our children through the Building the Education Revolution.

And we have a series of other reforms on the agenda.

The Gillard Government knows that if Australia is to improve our quality of life and if we are to remain internationally competitive, then economic reform and nation building are essential.

Like the Hawke and Keating governments, we must keep our shoulder to the wheel.

So let’s look now at our second term agenda – the second wave of reform.

THE SECOND REFORM WAVE

On 1 January 2011, we implemented a new national prequalification scheme in the construction sector, so a private contractor registered in one state or territory automatically has their qualifications recognised everywhere else in the country.

Good for competition, good for business and ensuring value for taxpayer funding.

We released in January the first ever National Ports Strategy, which we will seek to implement through COAG this year.

We released a draft National Freight Strategy for consultation – and the response from both industry and unions has been most encouraging.

We also progressed the creation of single national regulators in maritime, heavy vehicle and rail safety.

These are currently subject to governance arrangements set by 23 regulators with inconsistencies across state borders, creating confusion, excessive red tape and productivity losses.

Just one example – pity the poor hay producers in the country’s south-east.

In Victoria, trucks are allowed to carry more hay bales across the width of their vehicle than they can in NSW.

So if you’re unfortunate enough to have to cross the NSW/Victorian border, you’ve got to reduce and rearrange your load.

If you’re caught not complying, there’s a fine and loss of licence points.

There are hundreds of examples like this.

And while there’s still some work to be done in the rail sector, we recently reached consensus between state and territory transport ministers on a national set of rules for heavy vehicles and coastal vessels.

What these ministers have done is cast aside more than a century of tribalism to reach this historic point.

But there is still an enormous program of reform ahead of us.

And I want to briefly address four areas.

Firstly, rebuilding Queensland.

Second, productive, sustainable, liveable cities.

Third, reform of our infrastructure networks.

And, fourthly, reinvigorating Infrastructure Australia.

QUEENSLAND AND NATURAL DISASTERS

To Queensland.

There is hard work ahead of us to get Queensland back on track.

These disasters are a national challenge and have had an impact on the national economy.

Treasury estimates that coal production will take a hit of several billion dollars, with production losses in this quarter of around 15 to 16 million tonnes.

Our primary and regional producers will take a hit to crop production of around $1.2 billion.

Tourism is also suffering.

So rebuilding is an immediate priority, not just for Queenslanders, but for the nation.

We are investing $5.6 billion towards recovery and rebuilding but that was prior to Cyclone Yasi so the end bill will be even more.

This is a massive one-off cost, and we will make sure it’s done properly, but it won’t throw us off course from our long term productivity agenda.

NATIONAL URBAN POLICY

We‘ve just closed our formal consultation on the National Urban Policy.

It has been an important national conversation on the future shape and character of our biggest cities and regional centres.

The National Urban Policy will be released later this year.

It will be a blueprint to better connect infrastructure with work and opportunity in our cities to make them more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Put simply, the Federal Labor Government has reengaged with our cities.

It’s why we have established a Major Cities Unit.

It’s why COAG has agreed that by 1 January 2012, all States will have in place capital city plans with agreed objectives and criteria.

It’s why we will not be shy about tying the future of Commonwealth funding to those city plans.

Our National Urban Policy will be a guiding set of principles that will shape our cities into the future.

One projection is that by 2050 the populations of Perth and Brisbane will double, and the populations of Melbourne and Sydney will reach seven million – placing pressure on agricultural land surrounding our cities.

Ninety-seven percent of energy use in our cities is generated from non-renewable sources, leaving us with a growing emissions challenge – we need to turn that around.

Car use is growing faster than population growth—it has exploded thirty-fold since 1950.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics says the cost of avoidable traffic congestion is projected to grow to $20 billion by 2020 unless action is taken.

The good news is that with proper planning, these daunting figures are less threatening, and we can truly create productive, sustainable and liveable cities.

NATIONAL PORT AND FREIGHT STRATEGIES

Systems-level reform of our infrastructure networks has to start with our freight system.

Last month, I released a draft land freight strategy that builds on our ports work.

Freight volumes will double between now and 2030, so there is an urgent need for leadership and long-term planning.

Infrastructure Australia is engaging intensively with industry and the community to get this long term planning right.

Our vision is for a truly national, integrated and multimodal transport system capable of moving freight seamlessly, reliably and efficiently.

The markers of success will be increased export earnings, lower costs for consumers and increased productivity and economic growth.

And it is as much about using smart infrastructure to make our existing networks more efficient and to ensure our limited dollars stretch further.

An example is our $90 million investment to trial an Advanced Train Management System with the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which uses broadband technology to improve rail network capacity, enable more intense timetabling, cut congestion, increase reliability, and improve transit times and safety – all code words for higher productivity.

These strategies mean serious work to lift performance of our land freight infrastructure for the next three decades, not just for the next three years.

CONTINUING INFRASTRUCTURE REFORM

Let me turn to the work of Infrastructure Australia.

IA and its council are an asset to this nation, and they are achieving what they were set up to do.

Moving forward, IA will have a renewed focus on rigorous planning and economic assessment – all aimed at securing the biggest productivity returns.

It will:

  • Continuously drive to improve the Australian infrastructure market
  • Enhance and deepen the national infrastructure pipeline
  • Advise on how to get the most from project implementation
  • And it will examine financing options to promote efficient investment, and leverage private sector and super fund participation.

Through work like the National Freight Strategy and the National Ports Strategy – IA will be at the forefront of working with the private sector to promote economic reform.

EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY MAKING

Importantly, all these reforms I have spoken about today are a product of evidence based policy making.

A large part of that evidence base comes from my Department’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Today I am releasing the inaugural Australian Infrastructure Statistics Yearbook prepared by the Bureau.

It provides a comprehensive statistical summary of Australian economic infrastructure.

Private markets, academics and policy makers all thrive on timely and accurate information and this provides a rich lode.

The Yearbook shows that average annual infrastructure construction between 2007 08 and 2009-10 was almost double the average over the previous eleven years in real terms (from $28 billion per year to $54 billion per year).

Yearbook statistics show the public sector working together with the private sector with much of the public sector investment being placed in the hands of private sector contractors.

In 2009-10, Australia’s total investment in major economic infrastructure was over $58 billion.

Investment in transport infrastructure represented 38 per cent of the total.

The Yearbook goes beyond the standard data to also cover the economic output generated by infrastructure, to the resulting output of greenhouse gas emissions, to the prices of goods and services associated with infrastructure.

I commend the Australian Infrastructure Statistics Yearbook to you.

Conclusion

We do not expect Australia’s productivity growth to improve to two per cent overnight.

It will take ongoing reforms to sustain such growth.

The infrastructure task we face is daunting, and in a context where infrastructure is becoming more expensive and government funding will need to be increasingly directed towards health and aged care, the Government will not be able to meet this challenge alone.

If Australia’s productivity growth is to regain its previous high levels, we will require the efforts –

– of the community, the public and private sectors, the local, state, territory and Commonwealth governments, and organisations such as CEDA in the planning, development and implementation of infrastructure.

It was John F Kennedy who said we do things not because they are easy but because they are hard.

He said that when talking about sending Americans to the moon.

Here on earth, in Australia, we face our own big challenge.

It requires the determined hard work, goodwill and intelligent foresight of all of us, not just Government.

But the rewards will be enormous.

I am conscious that every minute of every day there is a giant job to achieve.

I won’t be wasting a minute of it.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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