Browsing articles in "Ministerial Speeches"
Jun 23, 2010

Address to TTF Summit: Leadership 2010

Address to TTF Summit: Leadership 2010

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

23 June 2010

Thank you for the invitation to join you this morning. It is always good to have the opportunity to speak to TTF. With a 200 strong membership across our vital transport and tourism sectors, you represent one of the most important, forward-looking and resilient industry groups in this country.

The Canadian financial writer Robert G. Allen is quoted as saying: “The future you see is the future you get”. As you know, the Rudd Labor Government came to office with a strong vision, and we have set about putting the building blocks in place to secure a more productive and fairer future for all Australians. I thank you for the collaborative way TTF has worked with us to achieve these goals.

Australia has endured the global financial crisis better than most – thanks, in no small part, to the Rudd Government’s decisive action to implement the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

Indeed, while the rest of the world faced recession, the Australian economy grew by 1.4 per cent. Australia emerged from the global recession among the best-performing advanced economies, with unemployment around half that of the US and Europe, and a budget deficit a small fraction of other developed countries.

The performance of Australia’s aviation industry, just like our economy, has also stood the test, and emerged with a 1.3 per cent growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers, with recent growth even more encouraging.

A recent report by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, predicts that the number of people moving through our capital city airports will climb by 140 per cent to 235 million by 2030.

And when we look around the world, we know that aviation was definitely affected by the global recession. The US recorded a fall in total passenger numbers of 5.2 per cent, the UK recorded a fall of 7.2 per cent, Germany a fall of 4.8 per cent, and Spain a fall of 8.1 per cent.

There is a clear link of activity in aviation to general economic activity, and the Government’s stimulus plan kept confidence in the Australian economy and aviation.

The aviation industry directly employs around 50,000 people, indirectly supports around half a million jobs, delivers essential services to remote communities and contributes $6.3 billion to the national economy.

Given that all the major players in the industry are TTF members, I think it is fitting this morning for me to concentrate on aviation.

What I want to do is to bring you a six month progress report on implementing the initiatives of the Aviation White Paper – Australia’s first national aviation policy.

Aviation White Paper

In December 2009, the Government released Australia’s first ever National Aviation Policy White Paper Flight Path to the Future. The White Paper provides a long-term, forward-thinking policy for an industry of national strategic importance – an industry that helps to keep Australians connected to each other and to the rest of the world.

TTF and its members played a constructive role in developing the White Paper and I want to thank all of those who contributed through submissions or direct engagement with my Department.

Safety and Security

As the policy initiatives in the White Paper are being rolled out, safety and security remain the number one priority for the Government. The 125 million passengers that pass through our airports every year, and the millions of Australians living near airports, expect and deserve nothing less than our continued vigilance. While Australia has an enviable safety record, the Rudd Labor Government isn’t taking the future for granted.

The 2010-11 Budget provides an unprecedented boost for aviation. An extra $237.2 million will be invested to bolster public confidence in the safety of air travel and to put in place the infrastructure needed to support continued growth and employment opportunities.

CASA, the nation’s independent aviation safety watchdog, will recruit almost 100 additional frontline staff with the $89.9 million in new funding provided by the Budget. This extra investment in safer skies will be funded via a small increase in the aviation fuel excise, from 2.8 cents per litre to 3.5 cents per litre. The Government considers this to be a reasonable and responsible step considering the industry’s continued growth depends on the public’s ongoing confidence in its safety standards. Following the ICAO and FAA audits this investment in CASA’s staff and training is critical, and will strengthen the organisation’s oversight of the industry. Aviation safety should be bi-partisan, and the Government puts the safety of passengers ahead of other interests

It is important to remember that, in the White Paper, the Government made clear it would cap any further increases in CASA regulatory service charges at Consumer Price Index levels for at least five years. In the Budget we did just that.

Airservices Australia is also investing $900 million in new and upgraded air traffic control systems and aerodrome rescue and fire fighting services.

I am very pleased at the work being done together by the Royal Australian Air Force and Airservices Australia to implement an integrated, cutting-edge national air traffic management system. This is a major commitment from the Aviation White Paper. We are getting on with the job, and Airservices and the RAAF are making good progress to develop and implement harmonised civil and military air traffic management systems.

In addition, a new Aviation Training Package is now delivering Australia-wide standards and qualifications for pilots and other aviation workers. These are important steps considering the industry’s continued growth depends on the public’s ongoing confidence in its safety standards.

Security

The Government announced on Tuesday 9 February a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen Australia’s aviation security regime against emerging threats. These measures are consistent with the security strategy set out in the White Paper and the National Security Adviser’s review of aviation security in light of the attempted terrorist attack on a US-bound flight on Christmas Day.

The Budget allocated $200 million to the rollout of the Aviation Security Package. No single measure can prevent an attack, but the Government is taking steps to minimise the security risks in aviation. The Government is working with industry to enhance passenger and cargo screening, improve training for screening staff, increase the number of sniffer dogs, improve policing and enhance international cooperation.

Sydney

The Budget provided $8.5 million to undertake the long-term planning to ensure that Sydney continues to be served by world class aviation infrastructure. The fact is that Sydney needs additional aviation capacity. The movement cap at Kingsford Smith Airport will stay. The curfew will stay. Unless we develop a second airport Sydney will start to lose economic opportunities.

The aviation plan for the Sydney region will identify potential sites for a second airport, the additional road and rail infrastructure that will be required, and the planning and investment strategies that will deliver this additional capacity.

This is another important White paper commitment, and the Aviation Strategic Plan will be completed in mid 2011. The steering committee includes TTF’s Chris Brown and my Departmental Secretary, Mike Mrdak, who will be speaking with you later this morning.

Regional Aviation

Our regions and our cities are interdependent. The transport links that keep us connected – by air, by road and by rail – are crucial to keeping communities connected and the supply chain functioning.

Sydney Airport is crucial for business in Sydney, but it is also a vital transport hub for regional communities. In the 12 months to March, nearly 62,000 regional airline flights flew into and out of Sydney Airport, carrying almost two million passengers. The Government has taken action to make sure that regional airlines continue to have reasonable access and reasonable pricing at Sydney Airport. Delivering on another White Paper commitment, earlier this month the Government issued a Declaration limiting increases in charges for regional airlines at Sydney Airport to CPI levels.

Aviation services can also be a life line for remote communities and we have provided $20 million for projects under the Remote Aerodromes Safety Program. $8.1 million has been provided for airstrip upgrades at remote indigenous communities and funding for the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme has been increased to ensure essential services to 244 remote communities.

In addition, the Government has provided almost $1.1 million to Wagga Wagga City Council to install an Instrument Landing System technology to enable the city’s airport to remain open during adverse weather conditions. I announced this funding at the end of May while officially opening the new Australian Airline Pilot Academy. The academy will become an aviation skills and training hub in the Riverina region. These initiatives represent a major boost for regional aviation and our collective effort towards training the pilots needed to support the continued growth of Australia’s aviation industry.

I also want to thank those of you who have provided submissions to Airservices Australia’s review of terminal navigation service pricing. The review is being undertaken with a view to establishing a framework that facilitates the enhancement of air traffic services around Australia. This is particularly important when new or enhanced services are required at locations like Broome and Karratha. When completed, this review will help inform the new long term pricing agreement planned to take effect from 1 July 2011.

International

On the international front, an open skies agreement has been finalised with the US with four airlines – including new entrants V Australia and Delta Airlines – now operating direct services between Australia and the US mainland.

We have also participated in two rounds of positive negotiations on a comprehensive open skies agreement with the European Union. We have secured additional capacity on routes to and from China, the UAE, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, and other major trading partners. Securing these agreements has the potential to deliver significant and far-reaching benefits for our economy, and for airlines and passengers.

The Government will always put the national interest first.

Environment

The Government is taking a very active role in ICAO, developing a global approach to managing international aviation’s contribution to climate change.

Airservices will also continue to work closely with the community and industry to develop and implement efficient industry practices to save fuel and reduce emissions. While navigation technology such as RNP offers potential safety and environmental benefits, the Government will only introduce this technology if it assists in fairer noise sharing.

The Government is establishing a new Aircraft Noise Ombudsman to provide an opportunity for local residents to raise issues about aircraft noise and to improve consultation and the flow of information to the public.

The Government has banned older, noisy hush-kitted jets at Australia’s major airports. Those of you who live in Sydney will be familiar with the unwelcome roar of a hush-kitted 727 which takes off around 10pm every night. Not for much longer. The industry has had plenty of notice to modernise the freight fleet and, under regulations I have established, these flights will cease from 1 September this year.

Aviation Consumer Issues

We have also addressed a number of important consumer issues over the past six months. We have passed legislation that gives Australians flying overseas improved access to higher levels of compensation in the event of an airline accident. We have reinstated ACCC monitoring of car parks at the big airports. We have established the Aviation Access Working Group to explore options for improving access to aviation by people with a disability. We are working with airlines to ensure better industry standards of complaint handling. And we have announced that the Productivity Commission review of economic regulation of airports will be brought forward to this year.

Airports Amendment Bill

We’ve achieved a lot in the last six months, but the work has not stopped.

Tomorrow I will be introducing the Airports Amendment Bill to Parliament. This will give effect to the airport planning policies announced in the White Paper. Airports serve as significant transport and economic hubs, handling over 120 million passenger movements in 2008-09 and generating hundreds of thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly. As airports get busier and our major cities grow, airport planning assumes an increased importance. It is vital for airports and for the amenity of surrounding communities that airport development plans be properly integrated with land use planning around airports. The Government is strongly committed to better urban planning – and that includes improving the planning framework for airports

Conclusion

The development of Flight Path to the Future has been collaborative. TTF hosted the release the Issues Paper in Melbourne on 10 April 2008. The Green Paper was released on 3 December 2008. And the White paper was released on 16 December 2009. The long-term vision for aviation has 134 policy initiatives, and they are being put into legislation, regulation and action one by one.

We have delivered more aviation reform in 2 ½ years than our opponents did in 12.

I look forward to our continued collaboration.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

Jun 22, 2010

Address to CEDA Conference 2010

Address to CEDA Conference 2010

Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Thank you for having me here again today.

I seized the invitation to address you one year on from my last ‘State of the Nation’ address.

Because it’s been an eventful year.

What better time to review where we’ve been…where we are…and most importantly, where the Rudd Labor Government is going.

It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in this Government’s vision for Australia. The Rudd Government has a great story to tell on infrastructure and on the economy.

The alternative Government is not in fact an alternative.

It is a mish mash of opportunistic, unfunded promises and brutal cuts to infrastructure programs.

So this year, we will be prosecuting our case for re-election on the basis of the Rudd Government’s vision of the future state of our nation.

When I was here last year, I noted the extraordinary challenges the business community was facing, coping with a savage downturn in the global economy.

Disrupted financing…temporary downsizing…revisiting capital equipment decisions… and worst of all…reassessing business’ employment needs.

Heavy engineering and construction were feeling the brunt.

Yet curiously, a different story was emerging in Australia to others.

Consumer spending was holding up. The housing market was remaining strong. Australian businesses were sharing the burden, shortening hours but keeping employment levels up.

These things are very easy to say—it’s another thing to implement them. The Rudd Government is doing just that. The Prime Minister has envisaged a Building Decade to shape our cities, meet our demographic changes, better connect our goods and our people, lift productivity and improve our quality of life further still.

We’ve been busy laying the foundations for this decade. Today I’d like to tell you about what we’re doing, and what we plan to do.

Australia’s history boasts other significant achievements. In 1949 the Chifley Government oversaw the beginning of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme.

It was a mammoth undertaking. 25 years in the making, the project used the labour of 100,000 men and women from more than 30 different countries.

Australians made up more than a third of the workforce.

When it was completed Australia had a scheme which today diverts the water which underpins some $3 billion in agricultural produce and provides 70% of the eastern mainland’s clean, renewable energy.

This is what Labor is about. Utilising imagination and innovation to build things that last. To build things which increase our productivity, underpin our economy and allow us to embrace the future confidently.

We have a positive agenda for our cities. We have a positive agenda for meeting our infrastructure challenges, securing our economic productivity and continuing our Building Decade.

The Economic Stimulus

That said, our country must support a significant infrastructure task to remain globally competitive. The world does not owe us a living, nor does the world stand still.

It’s this demand that the Rudd Government is determined to help meet. This is our Building Decade.

But it’s not just the Federal Government’s money that’s required. This isn’t about largesse.

It’s about responsible financing, microeconomic reform and establishing the right conditions to attract private sector investment.

Our Story so Far

Investment is important. It’s particularly important given the infrastructure deficit the Rudd Government has inherited.

The former government had no interest in our roads, our rail, our ports or our cities.

We are interested and have invested unprecedented levels into developing our country’s economic capacity.

Under the Nation Building Program the Rudd Government administers $37 billion for land transport infrastructure over six years through to 2013-14.

The Government is investing this $37 billion in capacity enlarging infrastructure such as road, rail and ports.

The most recent Budget continues this significant investment in Australia’s infrastructure, with funds being used to boost rail productivity; supporting the growth of the aviation industry; improving safety; and overhauling transport regulations as we move towards a seamless economy.

This investment is designed to provide Australia with a modern, safe and sophisticated transport network for the 21st century.

It’s about meeting our future with confidence.

But I want to focus today on the reform aspects of my portfolio. Because it’s these quiet events that will shape our productivity in years to come, and at the end of our first term, I believe it is now more evident how much this Government is keeping our Labor traditions of reform.

With this in mind, in 2008 COAG formally endorsed the National Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Policy and Guidelines developed by Infrastructure Australia in conjunction with the COAG Infrastructure Working Group. These guidelines aim to encourage greater participation by the private sector in delivering key infrastructure projects.

Labor Began Micro Reform

It’s just not enough to fund projects. For instance, since COAG first met in 1992, microeconomic reform has been recognised as being of real importance.

It’s been on the agenda for a long time.

But the need for regulatory reform stretches well past 1992. Since Federation we have suffered the inefficiencies which come with competing jurisdictions.

And despite our historic spend on infrastructure, financing transport infrastructure is still a major challenge that we will have to face in the coming years.

Where to Next?

The challenge now is getting the settings right for encouraging greater private sector involvement in major transport infrastructure investment as part of the transition out of the global financial crisis.

We will need to be creative in examining financing options. The Government has a choice of financing mechanisms. The trick will be to get the right fit.

Public/Private Partnerships

The COAG Infrastructure Working Group recently agreed to submit the Commercial Principles for Economic Infrastructure to COAG for approval and public release as part of the National PPP Policy and Guidelines.

IA engaged KPMG to help identify and find practical solutions to the most significant barriers to competition and efficiency in the procurement of PPPs. The review responded to criticism that bid costs in Australia are excessive, that it takes too long to award contracts and that new local and overseas entrants face barriers to entering the Australian PPP market.

The review found that the biggest barrier to new entrants to the PPP market is the relatively small number of PPP projects in Australia in comparison with Canada and the UK.

This situation can deter new entrants from establishing the capability to go head to head with the existing highly competitive field of bidders.

The review also found that bid costs for contracts are significant – often running into tens of millions of dollars. Bid costs in Australia are, on average, around 25- 45% higher than in Canada for similarly sized projects, but significantly lower than in the United Kingdom – the two most comparable countries.

The Australian, State and Territory Governments are now developing their responses to the KPMG report.

The resulting plan will soon be publicly released.

National Prequalification System

The Rudd Government is also working with states and territories to develop a new national prequalification system which I announced this month.

Prequalification is a risk management tool that our states and territories use extensively for the delivery of infrastructure projects.

It’s simple: contractors wishing to tender for such projects submit to an assessment process.

This process identifies the right contractors for the right job. As a concept, it is hard to argue against prequalification.

While prequalification make sense, the way it currently operates is burdensome. Each state and territory operates its own prequalification system.

A contractor wishing to operate around the country therefore needs to deal with eight different systems, each one designed to do the same thing but in a different fashion. This means that contractors wanting to compete in more than one jurisdiction have to deal with unnecessary duplication and red tape. This acts as an entry barrier, reducing competition. It also means jurisdictions are incurring unnecessary costs.

The Department is working with states and territories to introduce important economic reforms into the market for the provision of major infrastructure projects. The reforms centre around the introduction of a new National Prequalification System to operate from 1 January 2011.

One of the key features of the new system is that it is harmonised. All states and territories will apply the same tests and benchmarks in determining whether an applicant is to be prequalified.

The second key feature of the new system is mutual recognition. A contractor who is prequalified in one state or territory will have that prequalification recognised in other states or territories.

Road, rail and maritime regulatory reform

The establishment of single national regulators for heavy vehicles, rail and maritime.

Nation Building is not merely the construction of road and rail; it is also about instituting legislative and regulatory reforms appropriate to meet the infrastructure challenges of the 21st Century.

The need for regulatory reform is long-standing; the issue was raised at the very first COAG meeting in 1992.

On rail, we have narrow, broad and standard gauge systems.

Our seven rail regulatory authorities use 22 separate communication systems.

We have 23 regulators for maritime, rail and heavy vehicles – in a country of 22 million people.

Some people say we’re not moving quickly enough.

I reject that – completely.

Corralling nine governments…agreeing common national laws…shared national funding arrangements…and responsible transition arrangements for business.

We are finishing in three years what previous governments could not do for decades.

Despite over 20 years of hard work, the transport industry operates within inconsistencies on fatigue laws, driving hours, axle weights, load restraints and emissions requirements.

The Australian Transport Council will bring the final National Partnership Agreement to COAG for approval by mid-2011 and full implementation of the single national regulator and investigator framework will be in place by 2013.

Similarly, we must lift productivity and improve safety with heavy vehicles. Currently, regulation carried out by up to nine governments means differences in the adoption, interpretation, application and enforcement of multiple pieces of heavy vehicle law.

COAG expects to be able to finalise its agreement through a National Partnership Agreement by the end of 2010, that a national regulator will be in place during 2011 and that full implementation of national heavy vehicle regulation will be complete by the end of 2012.

The third part of this – the maritime industry – is serviced by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), now the national agency for maritime safety, environmental protection, and search and rescue services. AMSA has a strong, pro-active culture of sponsoring maritime safety. Australia is well served by a strong, centralised body.

All these reforms together will generate a range of benefits for businesses consistent with COAG’s agreed outcomes for the seamless national economy. For example, there will be reduced costs for businesses and workers operating across state and territory borders due to a more efficient national market with the seamless transfer of labour and goods between jurisdictions.

In all reforms, however, there is much work still to be jointly undertaken by all jurisdictions to work through the different arrangements and laws with the aim to implement one law that applies nation-wide.

OUR CITIES

It is a sad fact that for too long urban policy and the state of our cities has been absent from the Federal arena. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world—despite our “wide and sunburnt land” tag 75 per cent of our population reside in our major cities.

The need for a co-ordinated and integrated approach to our cities is now as urgent as it’s ever been. The Federal Government’s long absence from urban policy is over.

The third intergenerational report released earlier this year projects Australia’s population will grow from 22 million to 36 million by 2050. This presents a challenge in itself, considering the associated increase in demand for services and infrastructure, but a further challenge is presented by the makeup of that population: the percentage of our population aged 65 and over will nearly double from 14 percent to 23 percent.

These figures are projections—they are not carved in stone. But a responsible government must respond today to our future challenges.

The implications for our cities are clear. Sydney and Melbourne are forecast to have 7 million citizens respectively by 2050.

Brisbane’s population is expected to increase to 4 million, and Perth’s population is expected to increase to almost that number.

Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin are all expected to continue their expansion.

These challenges of population growth emphasises the need for national leadership on the state of our cities.

This does not mean we are taking our eye off our rural and remote areas. Our regions contribute massively to Australia’s prosperity and every Australian should have equal access to social, educational and economic opportunity regardless of where you live.

That egalitarianism is a proud feature of Australian life and the Federal Government’s record investment in our regions is proof of our commitment.

While our cities contribute 60 percent of our export income, there is no doubt that our major cities are the heartbeat of our economy.

Major cities contribute 80 percent of our nation’s GDP, despite the fact that they employ only 73 percent of the country’s workforce. This demonstrates a great productivity premium.

Our major cities are also estimated to have provided 80 percent of employment growth during the period of 2001-2006.

Our major cities are the major manufacturers, and our principal cultural and academic hubs.

They also attract significant numbers of tourists and skilled migrants.

But I don’t want to help reinforce the illusion that our cities and our regions are so separate. Cities connect the commodities of our farms and mines to world markets.

Cities often house the corporate headquarters of regional businesses.

Cities and our regions are dependent upon each other—and our country’s economic growth is dependent upon both.

The challenges we face—population increases, climate change, traffic congestion—have new angles reflecting the specific challenges of the 21st century. But the challenge of planning sustainable, liveable and productive cities is not new.

Housing Affordability

A related challenge is housing affordability. As cheaper properties become available on our city’s fringes, the potential savings are lost when residents must rely on their cars to drive to work or social occasions.

In other words, those with the least income are often the hardest hit by high oil prices as suburban fringe dwellers can’t rely on integrated public transport systems.

Government is sensitive to the issue of housing affordability and suburban sprawl and today’s report provides data upon which we can make sensible decisions.

Traffic congestion

Another challenge is reducing traffic congestion. Urban congestion is increasing, and so is the cost of doing nothing about it.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics puts the avoidable cost of urban congestion at $10 billion a year, and expects that figure to double by 2020 if we do nothing about it. They’re grimly impressive figures—$20 billion by 2020.

Congestion costs are real and they’re substantial. Urban congestion contributes to traffic delays, increased greenhouse gas emissions, higher vehicle running costs and more accidents. And for your regular commuter, it leads to missed meetings, a missed hour with your family after work, a missed lunch date. It leads to frustration and tedium and anger. To relieve urban congestion is to improve our quality of life.

Cities: What we’ve done

But what’s the role of Federal Government in matters of urban planning and our cities? There’s an argument for whether the Commonwealth should even be involved in urban planning.

We believe there is.

And we believe that the evidence for that can be seen in the effects of the previous Government’s self-imposed exile from our cities and infrastructure. Our cities have sprawled and sprawled; congestion has increased; public transport hasn’t caught up with growth; and lower income families are doing it tough out in the fringe suburbs when the greatest concentration of employment is very far away in the city.

Once you’ve answered the question of Federal involvement, the next logical question is: what should that Federal involvement look like?

We are not interested in a Federal takeover. What we are interested in is a partnership with our State colleagues. What we are interested in is encouraging State governments to plan their cities for the long-term, and in accordance with judicious criteria.

We’re also interested in serious investment.

For starters, we understand how vital public transport is in combating climate change, reducing urban congestion, providing social and economic connection and revitalising urban areas.

Public transport is not a silver bullet for our urban challenges, but clean, well-integrated public transport systems will go a long way in helping us meet them.

This is why The Rudd Government is investing $4.6 billion into the planning, development and construction of nine metropolitan rail projects in major cities across the country.

Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney will all benefit from this historic involvement by the Rudd Government.

Never before has a national government invested so significantly into passenger rail in our cities. That our involvement is historic demonstrates how important the Rudd Government considers our cities.

We are also developing meaningful partnerships with our State colleagues. We are not interested in riding rough-shod over State transport priorities. We are not interested in blame games.

What we are interested in is providing support—support for State-based research into transport needs and financial support for the major projects we will undertake together.

The Rudd Government will work co-operatively with the States to deliver the nine projects which will modernise existing rail systems, enlarging capacities and increasing speeds and connectivity. The projects will make it cleaner, easier and faster to move around our cities.

The connectivity of this country and its continued, competitive participation in a global market demands that we develop roads and rail and ports in an integrated way.

The Federal Government respects public transport. We acknowledge its capacity to inspire urban revitalisation as we respect its ability to cut carbon emissions. A clean, modern, safe, and efficient urban rail system will also relieve urban congestion.

We have also mapped out an ambitious $43 billion National Broadband Network. In a digital age, connectivity is about more than cars and buses. Fast, reliable internet connections are vital for individuals and businesses all over the country. Like transport systems, the internet connects Australians with each other and with economic and social opportunity. It also connects us with the rest of the world.

The National Broadband Network will connect 90 percent of Australian homes, schools and workplaces with internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. This is up to 100 times faster than today’s average speeds.

The remaining 10 percent of premises will be connected to wireless and satellite technologies and will enjoy far superior connection speeds than those experienced today.

Every Australian, regardless of where you live, will have access to fast, modern broadband connections.

This is a 21st century extension of our egalitarian culture. It will also boost productivity and play its own part in reducing urban congestion—with faster, more reliable internet connections, more people will be encouraged to work from home.

The Major Cities Unit was created to identify opportunities where federal leadership could make a difference to the prosperity of our cities and the wellbeing of their residents.

It was created to provide a focal point of the Federal Government’s vision for more sustainable, productive and liveable cities.

As you know, and as today’s speech suggests, urban planning is complex. Our cities are dynamic, shifting things with incredibly complex components.

Given this complexity—and given the importance of our cities—the Federal Government believes in input of Local, State and Federal government, the integration of services and infrastructure bodies, and industry and community participation.

This is precisely why the Major Cities Unit was established—to provide a more coordinated and integrated approach to the planning and infrastructure needs of major cities.

Underpinning our policy frameworks and our investment in our cities is an understanding—that we are here to improve the lives of Australians and the future of this country.

It’s people that bridge policy with outcomes. And it’s people who will benefit from ensuring we develop sustainable, productive and liveable cities for the 21st century.

The urban challenges we face are large. But so too is our ambition to match them.

Conclusion

Australia has enormous cause for confidence going forward. As we look around, at Europe, at the United States, we have reason for optimism.

A surplus.

Strong growth, low unemployment.

Record investment in infrastructure – a Building Decade.

A plan for reform, to invest wisely in the future of this country, lift productivity and living standards, and ensure fairness in our society.

This is not in fact a plan for re-election; it is a plan for good government, for an evolving story, and for safe hands to steer the economy.

Jun 20, 2010

Speech to Property Council of Australia Leaders Summit 2010

Speech to Property Council of Australia Leaders Summit 2010

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Sunday, 20 June 2010

It’s great to be here for the start of your Leaders Summit.

Opportunities like this to engage with some of the key players on infrastructure and the development of our major cities are important.

As you know, we’ve put our cards on the table when it comes to cities.

The Rudd Labor Government is serious about bringing national leadership to the future of our cities.

More than three quarters of our population live in our cities.

Nearly 80 per cent of Gross Domestic Product comes from our cities.

Seventy-five per cent of our workforce is in cities.

Seventy per cent of Australia’s businesses are located in cities.

You simply cannot be a responsible national government unless you care about what goes on in our cities.

Our cities – capitals as well as regional centres – face great challenges.

The growing costs of urban congestion, declining housing affordability, a changing climate, a growing, ageing population – these need to be addressed.

But we cannot address them unless we work together – all levels of government, the private sector and the community.

That’s why, this week, the Prime Minister announced the membership of the Expert Panel to help the COAG Reform Council review capital city strategic planning systems.

In December last year, we sought and received COAG’s agreement for all capital cities to have in place long-term strategic planning systems that meet nationally consistent objectives by 2012.

The Expert Panel will provide advice to the COAG Reform Council to implement this agreement.

It will be chaired by Brian Howe, former Deputy Prime Minister and pioneer in urban policy, particularly through the Better Cities program.

The Deputy Chair is Lucy Turnbull, who as former Lord Mayor of Sydney brings a wealth of practical wisdom to this issue.

The other members of the panel are Rod Pearse, Jude Munro, John Denton, Sue Holliday, Duncan Maclennan and Meredith Sussex.

And Geoff Gallop, who is Deputy Chair of the COAG Reform Council will play an important role in linking the Reform Council with the panel.

The calibre of people involved should send a message – we are in the business of making a difference in our cities.

And I value your engagement on this issue. The KPMG audit of capital city planning systems that you released last week is an important contribution to the urban policy debate.

It is further evidence that for the first time in over a decade, we are having a genuine national debate about the future of our cities.

It’s worth noting here that we are already talking about the future, only some months after the worst global financial crisis shook the nation.

The fact that all of us here can even think about the future, instead of just getting through the here and now, is testament to the success of the Government’s response to the financial crisis.

Today Australia is among the best-performing advanced economies, with unemployment around half that of the US and Europe, and a budget deficit a small fraction of other developed countries.

Our investments in social housing infrastructure, the incentives to purchase new dwellings, education infrastructure, our record investment in rail, roads and ports and in fast-tracking vital projects kept Australia working.

That’s the beauty of infrastructure investment – it supports jobs today while delivering benefits for the generations to come.

In my portfolio alone, our investment in infrastructure comes to a record $37 billion.

It includes projects that will boost the productive capacity and improve the quality of life in our cities.

Our $3.2 billion investment into the Regional Rail Link in Victoria is the largest investment in urban public transport in history.

The Gawler rail line modernisation and the Noarlunga to Seaford extension in Adelaide will ease urban congestion and revitalise Adelaide’s northern and southern suburbs.

Sinking the rail line at Northbridge will change the face of Perth and make it an even more vibrant and productive city than it is today.

The Ipswich Motorway project is critical to support growth in south-east Queensland.

It is a rare privilege in a transport minister’s career to both turn the sod on a major project and to go back to declare it open.

I was able to do that with the Wacol to Darra section of the Ipswich Motorway, which was ready eight and a half months ahead of time because of the Economic Stimulus Plan.

Even as we develop the first urban policy, even as we work with states and territories and local governments to implement capital city strategic planning, we continued to make record investments in urban infrastructure.

I know the Property Council has taken a keen interest in the national urban policy.

I released the first State of Australian Cities report earlier this year, a significant piece of work by the Major Cities Unit.

It was an important benchmarking exercise in understanding how our cities fare against their global competitors.

The national urban policy is about leading thinking on how Australia should position itself with respect to future cities investments.

It is about partnering with state and local governments and the private sector to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable in the future.

I welcome your interest and your engagement in the national urban policy.

I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of your Leaders’ Summit and to continuing our discussions on how we create the environment for each of our major urban centres to build their future and the nation’s future.

May 27, 2010

Address to the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors Summit 2010

Address to the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors Summit 2010

The future prosperity of our cities

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Thursday, 27 May 2010

It’s a pleasure to join you today to talk about the challenges facing our cities and how we can work together to overcome them.

Before I start, I know that Clover won’t let me get away without mentioning the latest Mercer Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, which was released yesterday.

For the third year in a row, Sydney was among the top 10 most liveable cities in the world – coming in at number 10.

Melbourne scored a very respectable ranking of 18.

That being said, the Rudd Labor Government values the dialogue that we have with the Capital City Lord Mayors.

In fact, it is an important plank of our partnership with local government to improve how we serve our communities.

A partnership that has already invested billions of dollars into local community infrastructure and services.

And it has set us down the path of cooperative reform.

IMPORTANCE OF CITIES

In March this year, I launched the first State of Australian Cities report.

I said that it was part of a process of stimulating ideas that would help shape our thinking about the future of Australian cities.

It was about commencing an informed and evidence-based discussion about the solutions our cities need.

I’m pleased that the CCCLM has chosen to engage in a very constructive way by holding this summit right here in Parliament House.

It sends a strong message to any doubters in this building, any sceptics out there about the Commonwealth’s role in our cities.

The Commonwealth is responsible for the welfare and prosperity of all Australians – regardless of where they live.

In fact four out of five Australians live in our capital cities and our major regional centres.

Our 17 major cities with populations over 100,000 contribute 80 per cent of our GDP.

They employ 73 per cent of the nation’s workforce.

Our major cities are home to major manufacturers.

They connect the commodities of our farms and mines to world markets.

They also attract significant numbers of tourists and skilled migrants.

Our cities contribute significantly to the high quality of life all Australians enjoy.

The future of our cities is critical for the future of the nation.

It makes the chronic national neglect of our cities all the more inexcusable.

The challenges our cities face – increasing congestion, lack of affordable housing, combating climate change, planning for population growth – have been ignored for far too long.

INVESTING IN OUR CITIES

So when the Rudd Labor Government took office, we very quickly set about reversing this neglect.

We doubled our investment in roads, quadrupled the investment in rail, and we commissioned Australia’s first ever national ports and freight strategies.

So far, we’re investing a record $37 billion in road, rail and ports – vital economic infrastructure to improve productivity, remove capacity constraints and boost the quality of life of Australians.

Such as our $236 million investment into the Northbridge Rail Link in Perth.

Or $293 million for the Gawler Line modernisation in Adelaide.

It includes the most significant investment a Commonwealth government has ever made into urban passenger rail – $3.2 billion for the Regional Rail Link project in Victoria.

And earlier this month, the Budget allocated $70.7 million to complete the detailed planning on the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal Project in Sydney’s South West.

We expect the staged redevelopment of the hub to start in 2013, subject to final approval.

The new facility will not only create hundreds of jobs across Western Sydney but it will help take more than one million trucks a year off the M5.

Of course our investments were not limited to transport.

In my portfolio, they include $1.2 billion for community infrastructure.

Investments such as $13 million towards the $53 million makeover of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Or $9 million for a new home for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane.

And $3.5 million to redevelop Victoria Park in Melbourne.

So when it comes to cities, the Rudd Labor Government already has runs on the board.

We’re serious about making the investments that are needed to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable.

A NATIONAL URBAN POLICY

As we go forward, the Government is also determined to develop and implement the policy frameworks needed to guide the future development of our major cities.

The State of Australian Cities report was an important benchmarking exercise in terms of understanding how our cities fare against the rest of the world.

The Major Cities Unit is now developing a national urban policy to help guide our future decisions and the future development of our cities.

I welcome your contribution to that policy process today, as well as your ongoing involvement in the MCU.

Let me be clear that the detailed day-to-day planning of our cities is without question the role of state and local governments.

The Commonwealth is not in the business of taking over the development approvals for Backyard Blitz.

Rather, the aim of the national urban policy is three-fold.

Firstly, it will articulate for the first time a Commonwealth perspective of Australia’s cities and the vital importance of major cities to Australia’s future prosperity, international competitiveness and improved quality of life for all Australians.

Secondly, it will capture the breadth of the Government’s direct interest in building Australia’s future through investment in services and infrastructure within cities, and between cities and regional Australia.

Thirdly, it will set out in very broad terms the future strategies of the Government future priorities for infrastructure investment.

The national urban policy is about leading national thinking on how Australia should position itself with respect to future cities investments.

It is about partnering with state and local governments to create the environment for each of our major urban centres to build their future, and to exploit their individual strengths for the benefit of the nation.

I expect to release it later this year.

I know the CCCLM has been working closely with the Major Cities Unit over its development and I encourage you to continue doing so.

The national urban policy will also align closely with the Cities Planning Taskforce as well as the capital city plans which COAG has agreed to develop and implement by 2012.

We made it clear at COAG last year that we would not be shy about tying future Commonwealth funding to those city plans.

The Commonwealth is in cities policy for the long haul.

We need to be, and we have a responsibility to do our part in the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities.

I wish you success with the remainder of your summit and look forward to working with you into the future.

ENDS

May 5, 2010

TTF Outlook 2010 National Hotel and Tourism Industry Policy Summit

TTF Outlook 2010 National Hotel and Tourism Industry Policy Summit

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

05 May 2010

Moving Transport and Tourism Forward

It’s always a pleasure to speak at a Tourism and Transport Forum event.

I spoke at the TTF Leaders Summit about 18 months ago in Canberra, when the global economy was in the grip of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Let me tell you, the feeling around this room today is a little more upbeat than it was on that day.

There is no doubt that the more than 200 member organisations of the TTF play an important role in the nation’s economy.

Tourism alone employs about half a million people in Australia. It is worth $90 billion to our economy.

Economic Stimulus Plan

Of course, over the past 18 months, the workers and businesses in the tourism industry have been dealing with the effects of the global financial crisis.

Domestic and overseas visitor numbers have been relatively flat overall with some decreases during last year. It is not surprising that holidays and trips are some of the first items that people cut back on during tough financial times.

Compared with the rest of the world, Australia has weathered the economic storm well – thanks, in no small part, to the Rudd Labor Government’s immediate and decisive action.

At the height of financial crisis- as stock markets fell, credit markets froze, and private sector activity collapsed – the Government put in place a $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan.

We invested a record $36 billion into our Nation Building program of road, rail and port infrastructure.

We did all this despite great opposition from the Liberal and National Parties.

But it worked.

Treasury analysis showed that our Economic Stimulus measures kept some 200,000 Australians in work.

It also confirmed that without the Government’s stimulus payments, Australia would have entered a recession.

In fact, Australia was one of only two developed economies in the world to avoid recession.

This is a significant achievement.

We supported jobs in the short term while investing in the infrastructure the nation needs for the future.

During the September quarter of 2008, our nation turned the first sod on a record high of $9.5 billion of transport infrastructure projects.

That financial year, public funding for transport infrastructure construction was worth $644 for every single man, woman and child in Australia – almost 50 per cent higher than in 2006-07.

I know that the benefits of this expenditure for tourism are not lost on the Tourism and Transport Forum.

Safe roads and efficient railways are necessary to sustain growth in tourism, along with high quality aviation infrastructure.

The Government’s Economic Stimulus Plan has laid the foundations to support tourism into the future.

Projects such as the $613 million Cooroy to Curra duplication on the Bruce Highway and the $618 million Kempsey Bypass on the Pacific Highway will create hundreds of jobs over the short term. But they will also ensure people and freight can travel more freely and safely through this vast nation of ours.

Equally our $236 million investment into the Northbridge Rail Link and $293 million for the Gawler Line modernisation in Adelaide will support employment in the short term while making our cities more vibrant and accessible for residents and visitors.

The Government’s historic investments in infrastructure extend beyond transport.

The stimulus package also led to $1.2 billion for community infrastructure projects. About 5,000 projects have been completed or are underway, as we speak.

Small-scale projects like upgrades to town streetscapes, community centres, swimming pools, bike paths, sporting ovals and playgrounds.

We have also invested in major projects, which will boost tourism across the country.

Like $36 million for a new Gold Coast Stadium which will both bring a new team into the AFL and take visitors to the Gold Coast during the quieter winter months.

In Tasmania, we provided $2 million to install lights at Bellerive Oval, which has meant that Hobart can host international night cricket matches for the first time. In fact, I had the honour of officially turning the lights on for the first Twenty20 match between Australia and the West Indies in February.

Also in Tasmania, the Government is providing $12.5 million to help construct the iconic Three Capes Track on the Tasman Peninsula.

That project will support 164 jobs and traineeships during construction, while injecting as much as $188 million into the State’s economy through tourism each year.

Just yesterday, I announced $13 million towards the $53 million makeover of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The redevelopment will help attract international exhibitions to the MCA and deliver some $26 million every year to surrounding retail and hospitality businesses.

Investment in major projects and community infrastructure has helped keep Australia out of recession and put us on track for growth.

So it is timely that we are here today to talk about where to next in terms of future challenges.

Major Cities

The first of these challenges that I want to talk about briefly today is our cities, and how we can make them more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Despite the stereotypes many of our international visitors hold, Australia is in fact one of the most urbanised nations on earth.

And it is our cities that act as the gateways for these visitors.

In March this year I released the first State of Australian Cities report. It was compiled by the Major Cities Unit, which we established soon after coming to office.

The State of Australian Cities report has, for the first time, brought together data that tells us about how our cities are performing in relation to their economic productivity, their sustainability as well as their liveability.

It’s proven popular with some 170,000 downloads so far.

The report sets the scene for an informed discussion about the areas where Australian cities are performing well, and those challenges that lie ahead.

It provides some of the data we need to make policy and plan for the long term.

And the long term has some significant challenges. Treasury forecasts released earlier this year project Australia’s population will grow to around 36 million over the next 40 years.

That is not a target or a policy of the government – it is a projection.

And that projection has started a vigorous debate in Australia.

The Rudd Government welcomes that debate.

The Prime Minister has appointed Tony Burke as Australia’s first Minister for Population to develop the Australian Government’s population strategy.

My own view is that we should not be frightened by a growing population. But nor can we afford to be complacent.

The challenge for governments is to develop strategies that take us into the future in a very deliberate and planned way.

I think the reason that many Australians are concerned about population growth in our cities is that in recent years our capitals have struggled to cope with issues such as urban congestion.

The former government effectively abandoned Australia’s urban infrastructure on the basis that it was none of the national government’s business.

The result was a growing infrastructure deficit that the Rudd Labor Government has been working hard to fix.

And that’s why the Major Cities Unit is now developing a national urban policy to help guide our future decisions.

The national urban policy will be released later this year. It will outline the challenges and set the framework for how the Commonwealth’s future infrastructure investment will deliver more productive, liveable and sustainable cities.

Let’s be clear about just how vital our cities are to Australia’s future prosperity.

Our capital cities and regional cities are home to four out of five Australians.

They generate around two thirds of our national income.

One of Australia’s competitive advantages is the liveability of our cities.

This is an advantage that we cannot afford to lose. The lifestyle reputation of Australia and our cities helps attract so many tourists to our shores each year.

In fact, the most recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers analysis of 21 world cities – its Cities of Opportunity survey – finds Sydney doing relatively well across a range of important metrics.

Sydney is at, or near the top, for liveability and sustainability.

But it is less well ranked on its infrastructure and transport – coming in at 14th of the 21 cities in the survey.

Now that provides further evidence of the need for further infrastructure investment. Investment that is guided by evidence-based policy such as our national urban policy will be.

I want to make it clear that our focus on urban policy does not come at the expense of regional communities. Far from it.

More than $21 billion of our $36 billion-dollar Nation Building Program is funding infrastructure projects in regional Australia.

We understand the contribution that regional Australia makes to the economy as well as our character and heritage as a nation.

For example, here in New South Wales, domestic and international visitors to destinations outside Sydney generated 67 million nights of accommodation and $11 billion in income for regional communities.

In fact around 46 cents of every dollar spent on tourism in 2008-09 was in regional Australia.

Aviation

The second challenge I want to discuss today is aviation. Just as our cities are the gateways for our economy and for tourism, it is at the airports of those cities where our visitors’ first impressions of Australia are formed.

On an island continent as large and remote as ours, aviation is a vital link for Australians as well as for visitors.

A recent report by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, predicts that the number of people moving through our capital city airports will climb by 140 per cent to 235 million by 2030.

Here in Sydney we are looking at a 4 per cent jump each year in people transiting – up to 72.9 million. Brisbane is looking at an increase of 4.9 per cent a year with an estimated 51.2 million people by 2030.

So, when I took office as the Aviation Minister, I was surprised that there was no such thing as a national aviation policy.

One of the first tasks I undertook was the development of Australia’s first ever aviation white paper. I had the privilege of releasing it at the National Press Club in December last year.

This document – Flight Path to the Future – was about setting out our vision for aviation.

It was about strengthening the competitiveness of Australian aviation while maintaining our enviable safety record.

It gives industry the investment certainty they need.

Such as through the establishment of a joint taskforce to plan for Sydney’s future aviation needs. The TTF, through Chris Brown’s membership, is playing a positive role in that process.

The White Paper also makes sure communities surrounding our airports will be properly consulted about developments at our airports.

It supports tourism, such as through our commitment to offer foreign airlines unlimited access to secondary gateway markets like Cairns, Darwin and Broome, as well as improved access to capital cities for those international flights which go through these destinations.

The tourism sector has also benefitted from the Open Skies agreement that we concluded with the United States in 2008.

Today, as a result, the route between Sydney and Los Angeles is served by four airlines. It has generated competition, put downward pressure on air fares and provided travellers with greater choice.

In fact, international passenger numbers between LAX and Sydney to the end of 2009 was 36 per cent higher than in the previous 12 months.

Despite the global recession, the growth in the popularity of air travel is likely to quickly return to strong historic levels. That’s why the aviation industry needs to continue planning and investing for the future.

Conclusion

I have spoken this morning about the critical importance of having a long term plan that is underpinned by targeted infrastructure investment.

When we came into office we were faced with a choice. The Government could have remained disengaged from our cities, our communities, and the transport systems that serve them. We could have sat back and done nothing about the global financial crisis, an approach the opposition advocated.

But if we did, working families, local communities and businesses would have suffered the consequences.

Instead, what we have done is articulate a vision for Australia.

A vision for a more productive, more sustainable and liveable Australia. It’s one that attracts and excites visitors from overseas whilst encouraging Australians to enjoy the magnificent diversity this country has to offer.

The contribution that the tourism and transport sector can play in that process will be strongly influenced by the level of partnership and cooperation that you, as industry members, can achieve both among yourselves and with government.

It is important that TTF provides strong leadership within the industry to work with government.

In doing so, you will be making a real contribution to Australia’s future prosperity.

[ENDS]

May 5, 2010

2010 Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Annual Dinner

2010 Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Annual Dinner

Melbourne

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

05 May 2010

Leadership in Vehicle Safey and Environment Standards

Thank you for the opportunity to address your Annual Dinner.

I would like to make some remarks tonight to you about leadership.

Decisive leadership that is expected of Government in the tough times, to deal with the challenges of the present while preparing us for the future.

And the leadership of industry to accept responsibility to embrace and lead change, particularly in vehicle safety and environmental performance so as to position itself to be relevant to the nation’s future needs.

The importance of the automotive industry to Australia is well recognised by the Rudd Government.

For the contribution that you make to the wider manufacturing and other sectors of the economy.

For your role in Australian research and development, the development of a skilled workforce, and manufacturing exports.

For the more than 50,000 people employed in the manufacturing sector of the industry, for the contribution of some $4 billion annually to the salaries of Australians.

It was not all that long ago that a small group of economists and commentators questioned whether we needed a local automotive industry at all.

These armchair critics were wrong.

Your industry today is open, competitive and diverse.

It is valued by the Rudd Government.

So when the Global Financial Crisis hit the world hard we directed a portion of our stimulus package towards boosting automotive sales.

We were aware that the automotive industry is such an important source of employment and business confidence, both directly and indirectly.

The targeted tax breaks for business were, by any measure, a success. Not only did they stimulate sales, they also helped business at a time when investment in fleets was threatened.

In 2009 new vehicle sales in Australia were down 7.4 per cent over 2008.

In the same period in the United States they were down between 27 and 33 per cent.

It is very pleasing to see that sales of new vehicles continue to grow after the economic stimulus tax incentives have concluded.

Vehicle sales for the first three months of 2010 are up by 18.2% compared with the same period last year.

I believe this data also demonstrates the growing strength of the Australian economy and confidence of the Australian consumer.

Buying a new car is, for the family, or the individual, a sign of confidence in the future. It signals confidence in employment and in the economic outlook.

Our leadership during the Global Financial Crisis has played its role in securing this optimism.

Another area where Governments are showing leadership is in the development of a seamless national economy.

During 2009 the Council of Australian Governments signed off on the development of single national regulators for heavy vehicles, rail safety and commercial maritime vessels.

We recognise that within Australia, these are in fact national markets.

We should therefore enjoy the benefits of single national regulation, cutting out red tape and out-dated state based differences in transport regulation.

Since becoming the Minister responsible for the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, I have focussed attention in my department to policies aimed at delivering greater vehicle safety and better environmental performance.

Improving road safety is an important objective for the Rudd Government.

Over the past thirty or more years, we have seen great improvements in this area.

Last year’s national road toll was less than half what it was in 1970 even though the number of vehicles on our roads and the kilometres travelled has steadily risen.

Better roads, tougher laws, improved driver education and safer vehicles have all played their part.

When we look at vehicle safety, I am also aware that it comes at a cost which is generally passed on to the consumer.

Therefore improvements to the national safety standards – the Australian Design Rules, the ADRs – need to offer a tangible benefit in safety.

It is in everybody’s best interests for standards to be clear, unequivocal and national.

Given that over 80 per cent of vehicles are imported into Australia, it is also vitally important that the ADRs be harmonised as much as possible with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe vehicle regulations, acknowledged as the peak international standards and agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.

In June last year, I announced the mandatory fitting of Electronic Stability Control to all new models of cars, passenger vans and off-road vehicles sold in Australia. We worked closely with the industry to bring in this regulation.

ESC is life saving technology and research has found that vehicles equipped with ESC are around 25 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those without it.

You will be aware that this new ADR comes into effect for new model light passenger vehicles from November 2011 and all other new light passenger vehicles from November 2013.

In October last year, the Victorian Government announced that it would mandate the fitting of ESC to all new light passenger vehicles from January 2011 through its own local regulations.

In a national market where there was already a very strong take up of ESC the benefits in doing so are minimal, while the costs are significant.

I will continue to argue that it is vitally important that in areas such as vehicle standards, we must support a national approach.

An important element in ensuring we maintain a robust national approach is for the Australian Government and vehicle industry together to demonstrate clear and decisive leadership, in setting the vehicle safety agenda.

My Department is currently working on reinvigorating the Technical Liaison Group, the peak ADR advisory forum which includes the FCAI, the states and territories and other industry groups, so that it has a more strategic focus and achieves greater levels of ‘buy in’ from all participants.

The Government has also directed the Department to increase its involvement in the formulation of international vehicle standards.

Australia is currently mounting a proposal for development of an international pole side impact standard aimed at increasing vehicle occupant protection.

Up to 10 per cent of Australian road fatalities involve pole side impacts.

The proposal will be formally considered by the international standards working group in Geneva in June.

I strongly urge the FCAI and it members to support Australia’s proposal and to recommend this position to the International Organisation of Vehicle Manufacturers.

I also look forward to the FCAI finalising the voluntary code of practice on head protecting side airbags as soon as possible.

Most new vehicles sold in Australia already have this safety feature, but I encourage you to go further and ensure it is made available to lower specification vehicles as well and to reflect such a commitment clearly in the code.

This will complement Australia’s Geneva proposal and demonstrate industry’s commitment to lead on safety.

Turning to environmental issues, the Government is committed to improved health outcomes by achieving better vehicle pollution emission standards.

We want to see Euro 5/6 standards introduced in Australia as soon as practicable.

Since we issued the Draft Regulation Impact Statement at the beginning of this year, we have received around twenty-five submissions.

Many of the responses favour the introduction of Euro 5/6 as proposed in the draft RIS, but I do recognise that some in the industry have some reservations about the timing of the implementation.

The Government is willing to discuss adjustments to the timeframe with the FCAI which could help to minimise compliance costs while maintaining air quality benefits.

But the Government expects industry to show leadership and embrace the purpose and intent of the change and not substitute prevarication for action.

In my view, it is important to have these issues resolved quickly so that the industry has maximum time to plan for compliance.

I am confident the FCAI will work with the government and show leadership to achieve healthier air quality for our major cities.

We will also be looking for your strong engagement on the issue of CO2 emissions from vehicles.

As you are aware, in July 2009 COAG endorsed a new National Strategy on Energy Efficiency – with fuel efficiency in transport being a key element.

COAG has identified the reduction of CO2 emissions from the transport sector as a difficult task, but one we must deal with.

And given the light vehicle sector is the biggest single source of transport CO2 emissions – almost 80 per cent in fact – your industry has a pivotal role in helping Australia meet this challenge.

The draft RIS on the costs and benefits of introducing CO2 emissions standards for light vehicles is expected to be released later this month and I urge your members to consider it carefully and provide constructive comment on its recommendations.

A co-operative approach to tackling this challenging issue will, in my view, give Australia the best chance of achieving a successful outcome – delivering real reductions in CO2 emissions from the transport sector.

A more environmentally sustainable industry will be more economically sustainable in the future.

And real progress is being made.

The Government’s $6.2 billion New Car Plan for a Greener Future is playing its part in assisting putting the industry on an economically and environmentally sustainable footing.

We are seeing the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

For example, through $35 million in support from the Green Car Innovation Fund, Toyota is now producing the hybrid Camry which has been met with enthusiasm by Australian car buyers, selling 1,290 cars in the first six weeks of going on sale.

With $149 million of assistance from the Green Car Innovation Fund, Holden will commence production of a small car at its plant in Elizabeth in February 2011.

Last year we approved the first full volume fully electric car to the Australian market- the Mitsubishi MIEV. I test drove it and was impressed with its on-road performance.

Back in 2008, we saw the Australian industry generate nearly $6 billion in exports. It was the pinnacle for local manufacturers with 163,718 vehicles being exported – more than three times the number of a decade earlier.

You demonstrated that the industry was internationally competitive.

Mike, in his former role as President and Managing Director of GM in the Middle East saw Australian export products rolling off the ships in our largest export market.

That was before the Global Financial Crisis and, through no fault of local manufacturers, the export story turned bleak in 2009.

I would like to see us return to those days in the near future. From my experience with the industry I believe it is achievable sooner rather than later.

I am profoundly aware of the challenges you as manufacturers and economic wealth creators face, both domestically and globally.

The challenges for us, the policymakers and regulators, are to provide you with a well structured, equitable business environment while meeting community expectations for a cleaner, safer and friendlier world.

Governments and industry need to continue to show the leadership necessary to achieve this.

I look forward to the continuation of our strong and constructive relationship.

Thank you again for this opportunity.

[ENDS]

May 2, 2010

Opening address to Airservices’ 2010 Waypoint Conference

Opening address to Airservices’ 2010 Waypoint Conference

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Member for Grayndler

02 June 2010

It is a pleasure to open Airservices’ 10th Waypoint Conference.

This is a valuable opportunity for Government and the aviation industry to reflect on the past year, and to talk about how we will continue to work together to support Australian aviation.

And we need to move forward together because Australia has a relatively small population spread across a vast island continent. We are located in a remote corner of the globe. And more than most other countries, Australia relies heavily on aviation for our development. We are a stronger economy and community because of the contribution made by aviation.

Last year at this event, I talked about the tough times the industry was experiencing. I talked about the resilience of our aviation industry.

The global financial crisis and more recently the volcano in Iceland demonstrate the vulnerability of the global aviation market.

The performance of Australia’s aviation industry, just like our economy, has been outstanding in the face of the worst global economic recession in 75 years.

Australia has endured the global financial crisis better than most – thanks, in no small part, to the Rudd Government’s decisive action to implement the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

Australia has the highest growth, second lowest unemployment, and lowest debt and deficit amongst advanced nations. All but one of the world’s developed economies has been in recession. That’s us.

In 2009, other advanced economies contracted by over 3 per cent. And we know that aviation throughout the world was similarly affected. The US recorded a fall in total passenger numbers of 5.2 per cent, the UK recorded a fall of 7.2 per cent, Germany a fall of 4.8 per cent, and Spain a fall of 8.1 per cent.

Release of BITRE publications

Today I am releasing three publications from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics that show a remarkable picture.

These publications, – the Domestic Airline Activity 2009, International Airline Activity 2009 and Avline 2008-09 – show that while the global industry was suffering severe turbulence, the Australian aviation industry grew.

Total passenger numbers domestic and internationalfor 2009 show growth of 1.3 per cent in Australia. There was growth in both domestic and international passenger numbers.

The aviation industry directly benefited from the Australian economy avoiding the global recession. The Government’s $42 billion stimulus plan kept the arteries of our economy pumping during the global recession.

And the resilience of the Australian aviation industry is testament to the timely stimulus put in place by this Government. A stimulus plan that kept Australians in jobs…kept Australians confident…and kept Australians travelling for work and for holidays. The proof is in the numbers.

Of course, this is consistent with what was happening across the economy: when the world faced recession, the Australian economy grew by 1.4 per cent

And there are continuing good signs for our domestic passenger numbers. On top of growth in November and December last year, early data for 2010 shows continuing growth in the Australian industry, with domestic passengers up by 3.9 per cent for the first quarter.

And the report on International Airline Activity for 2009 also has some telling data. The report shows that international scheduled passenger traffic in Australia increased by 4 per cent last year. In 2009, Australia had the highest level of international passenger traffic ever, with 24.4 million passengers. In comparison, ICAO figures show total world international traffic in 2009 was down 3.9 per cent. Australia was a notable exception to this global downturn. International passengers are also up by 12.2 per cent for the first quarter of 2010.

All these numbers are important. Not only did the Australian industry grow when air traffic through the rest of the world was falling, but importantly, many thousands of Australians in the aviation industry kept their jobs. Australia’s aviation industry directly employs 50,000 Australians, and supports a further half a million jobs throughout the economy, especially in the tourism and the hospitality industry.

When the Government formulated the stimulus plan, it was those jobs we were protecting.

The Rudd Government is committed to policies that deliver jobs and investment today, while we build the infrastructure for the future. That is true for the Government’s policies in aviation.

Aviation White Paper

Last December I released Australia’s first National Aviation Policy White Paper. The White Paper provides a long-term, forward-thinking policy for an industry of national strategic importance. The process for developing the White Paper commenced before the Global Financial Crisis, and I am proud that the important policy work is going strong. I want to thank all of those who contributed to the development of the White Paper through submissions or direct engagement with my Department.

As the policy initiatives in the White Paper are being rolled out, safety and security remain the number one priority for the Government. The 100 million passengers that fly through our skies every year, and the millions of Australians living near airports, expect and deserve nothing less than our continued vigilance. While Australia has an enviable safety record, the Rudd Labor Government isn’t taking the future for granted.

Budget announcements on aviation safety and security

In the 2010-2011 Budget, the Rudd Government announced funding of $89.9 million for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

This funding will mean the nation’s independent aviation safety watchdog can recruit 97 additional safety specialists, safety analysts and airworthiness inspectors and other staff. This funding will allow CASA to expand its surveillance activities and fulfil its increasingly complex regulatory responsibilities.

In February, the Government announced a $200 million aviation security package which will ensure better screening, improved policing at major airports and stronger security requirements at regional airports. These initiatives will preserve public confidence in the safety and reliability of air travel.

Investing in aviation infrastructure

The Government is also supporting vital investments in Australia’s aviation infrastructure. Airservices’ is investing $800 million in over 80 projects, and its ongoing investment in air traffic infrastructure and rescue and fire fighting services will bolster our great safety record.

I had great pleasure a fortnight ago to officially commission Airservices new $6 million fire station at Sunshine Coast Airport. This project is part of a $122 million to program to modernise aviation fire and rescue facilities at the nation’s busiest airports.

Creating a national air traffic management system

I am very pleased at the work being done together by the Royal Australian Air Force and Airservices Australia to implement an integrated, cutting-edge national air traffic management system. This is a major commitment from the Aviation White Paper. It’s not sexy, it won’t get headlines, but it is critically important. It is also common sense.

By purchasing and developing compatible equipment and technology together, we will deliver safer and better planned air traffic control over the nation’s skies.

I would like to thank both Greg Russell and Mark Binskin, the Chief of Air Force, for their leadership and hard work on this important project.

Terminal Navigation Pricing Review

Airservices is also progressing another important White Paper initiative – the Terminal Navigation Pricing Review. We need to ensure we have in place a pricing framework that enhances air traffic services and safety around Australia, including at major regional airports.

Regional access to Sydney Airport

Also important for regional communities is their access to the broader domestic and international airline network. Sydney Airport is an essential transport hub for regional communities.

I am pleased to announce that the Government has issued a new Declaration and Direction under the Trade Practices Act to ensure access and reasonable pricing for regional airlines at Sydney Airport.

Aircraft Noise Ombudsman

The establishment of an independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman within Airservices demonstrates the importance this Government places on improving the relationship between the industry, airports and their surrounding communities.

Airservices Board

I’d like to take this opportunity recognise the work and dedication of the Airservices Board in maintaining an organisation which is widely respected for its safety credentials.

I have recently appointed Ms Jude Munro to the Board of Airservices and reappointed Mr David Forsyth as Chair of the Board, as well as Mr Henk Meertens as a member of the Board. I would also like to thank Ms Alice Williams for her contributions as a Board member and wish her well in her future endeavours.

I look forward to continuing to work with the Airservices Board to deliver safe and efficient airspace management.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Richard Dudley for the energy, creativity and professionalism he brought to his 14 years at Airservices.

I wish you well for the future.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the conference.

Reports can be found at: http://www.bitre.gov.au/info.aspx?NodeId=49

Apr 27, 2010

Address to the Financial Review’s Infrastructure Conference

Address to the Financial Review’s Infrastructure Conference

The Building Decade: the infrastructure challenge facing Australia

Hilton Hotel, Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Introduction

There’s a lot to get excited about in the infrastructure portfolio. I get to see our investments at work, in communities across Australia.

But one of the things I like most about infrastructure is its sense of imagination.

Think of Western Australia before Federation. Not much infrastructure there.

The first ever Premier of Western Australia, John Forrest, asked an Irishman, Mr C.Y. O’Connor, to be his engineer-in-chief.

Mr O’Connor asked the Premier to clarify if this portfolio covered roads and rail and ports.

The Premier’s response was daunting: “Everything”. Just build everything.

A decade later, Mr O’Connor had built the Coolgardie pipeline, the first of a series of vital infrastructure to support the colony’s development – a harbour at Fremantle, and the beginnings of rail and communication networks.

The pipeline was—and still is—a phenomenal achievement.

At that time, it was the largest pipeline in the world, carting water uphill, 600 kilometres to the dry Goldfields.

More than a century on, that pipeline is still transporting water to the desert.

It took imagination and guts.

Economic Stimulus

I like to think the Rudd Government’s Nation Building agenda also has a good dose of its own vision for Australia.

As the world was gripped by the worst financial crisis in 70 years – as stock markets fell, credit markets ossified, and private sector activity collapsed – the Government put in place a $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan.

It was decisive, immediate action to address serious short-term challenges.

And it set about building infrastructure that could serve Australia for the next century.

…And the stimulus package worked.

In the September quarter of 2008, our nation turned the first sod on a record high of $9.5 billion of transport infrastructure projects.

That financial year, public funding for transport infrastructure construction was worth $644 for every single man, woman and child in Australia – almost 50 per cent higher than in 2006-07.

Australia was one of two developed economies in the world to avoid recession.

The IMF predicted “the increase in public investment will continue to support activity in the near term, while addressing infrastructure shortfalls in the long term.”

And last week, the IMF confirmed Australia’s growth outlook is stronger than other advanced economies as a whole.

And the enduring benefit of this extraordinary short term response was long term infrastructure to serve Australia when global growth resumes full throttle.

Infrastructure Deficit

We came to government knowing we had to play catch up on Australia’s growing infrastructure deficit.

Estimates before the global financial crisis put Australia’s infrastructure deficit as high as $770 billion.

Over the term of the former Government, public investment in infrastructure as a proportion of national income fell by some 20 per cent.

A remarkable indictment, given the opportunities presented by the resources boom.

Business was feeling its impact – supply bottlenecks, deteriorating export infrastructure, and the highest inflation in 16 years.

Families were feeling its impact.

Directly, in higher costs; indirectly, through measures such as urban congestion.

Nation building was absent from the Federal agenda.

This is remarkable when you consider Australia’s circumstances.

…A nation occupying a continent, in the fastest growing, most dynamic region of the world.

…A nation with natural strengths in agriculture and resources.

And when the Reserve Bank warned on 20 separate occasions that infrastructure and skill shortages were constraining growth.

A new national approach – first term reforms

When we took office, we immediately restored national leadership on infrastructure.

We appointed the first Federal Infrastructure Minister.

We established a Federal Infrastructure Department.

We set up Infrastructure Australia to drive evidence based infrastructure planning, investment and reform.

We conducted the first ever national audit of infrastructure.

We released the first national priority list and pipeline of projects.

And we developed and adopted a national PPP policy to encourage the private sector to partner with governments.

We then backed up these institutional reforms with record investment.

We set up the Building Australia Fund in our first budget.

We started rolling out the Nation Building Program with $36 billion for road, rail and port infrastructure.

We doubled road spending. We quadrupled rail spending.

We have invested in 8 of IA’s 10 ‘priority’ projects, as well as 6 ‘pipeline’ projects. We invested in urban water infrastructure.

Some $5 billion of funding was for metropolitan rail projects in our major cities.

We provided a $1.2 billion equity injection to the Australian Rail and Track Corporation for 17 freight projects to improve the speed, capacity and reliability of the interstate rail network.

Of these projects, 7 are already complete…8 are underway…and 2 are in advanced planning.

The ARTC’s total program will reduce freight times along the Melbourne to Brisbane corridor by 11 hours – a cut of almost a third.

When fully implemented, the Nation Building package will deliver 223 kilometres of new rail track, and modernise 2094 kilometres of rail.

Never before has a national government invested so significantly in rail infrastructure.

Nation Building for Recovery

Going forward, we are still focused on the long term as we nation build for the recovery.

I want to step through two fundamental infrastructure challenges driving a second term Rudd Government agenda, and expand on work we’ve begun in these areas.

First, the productivity challenge – how do we achieve long term productivity growth, and tackle bottlenecks and supply constraints.

The Prime Minister has envisaged a Building Decade if we are to reverse declining productivity growth.

This year, construction work starts on more than $20 billion worth of major road and rail projects.

Tomorrow’s discussion at this conference is also important – on how to spur greater private sector investment in infrastructure, particularly from the superannuation industry.

This is a timely discussion, as the Government’s stimulus package begins to withdraw, and there is a recovery in private activity.

But productivity is not just about investment, it’s about reforms that build a seamless national economy, that better plan infrastructure, and that use existing infrastructure more productively.

Today I’m releasing two major pieces of work by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics that set out the national freight infrastructure challenge – in interstate freight and maritime activity.

These tell us to expect substantial increases in interstate freight growth between 2008 and 2030, along the north-south and east-west freight corridors.

Our national freight task is growing at 3.61 per cent each year – more than twice as fast as our population, and faster than average GDP growth.

While this is slower growth than we’ve seen over the last 30 years, we can still expect our freight task to double their 2008 levels by 2030.

Currently, 20 of Australia’s seaports conduct around 90 percent of the volume of shipping trade.

The number of export shipping containers travelling through Australian ports will increase 7.9 per cent every year from 2012-13, with non-container exports increasing 3.5 per cent each year.

That is why this year we are cracking a pace on the development of a national ports strategy for June COAG, with a national freight strategy to build on this work later in the year.

Why do we need a national ports strategy?

As an island continent, Australia’s ports are the fixed hubs of our supply chains. They are microcosms of intensive and competing activity.

…States and Territories have principal jurisdiction over ports and adjacent land use.

…The Commonwealth has key defence, quarantine and border security functions at ports.

…State, Territory and local governments make decisions around land development and road use.

There is regulatory inefficiency and overlap in planning, environmental approvals and competition.

And all 3 levels of government may finance, own or operate associated freight infrastructure.

So while much future investment in our ports will continue to rely on the private sector, national leadership will ensure more transparent, consistent and efficient regulation to provide the right investment conditions for our ports.

The strategy will not be a one size fits all approach…Nor will it be a Federal takeover…And it is not about new layers of bureaucracy over our critical commercial infrastructure.

Rather, the strategy will drive better ports planning, and encourage all levels of government and the private sector to plan for port growth and related freight infrastructure.

In metropolitan ports, where there is no shortage of competition for land use, this will require smarter planning of our cities and urban spaces to balance the needs of ports with the needs of communities.

The strategy will focus on four priority outcomes:

1. Better planning for ports and relevant infrastructure.

2. Greater protection of the ability for ports to execute their plans.

3. Improved landside efficiency and reliability.

4. And clearer, more transparent responsibilities at ports.

The next round of consultation with stakeholders on the draft strategy will start in coming weeks. And I will be actively engaging states and territories in the COAG Infrastructure Working Group that I chair.

But this is just one part of the picture.

For example, we are also working assiduously to get the new National Transport Regulators up and running by the end of 2012.

The National Transport Commission has begun drafting national law for heavy vehicles and rail safety. And the first cab off the rank, the National Partnership Agreement for maritime, will be brought to COAG for ratification in the middle of this year.

This work doesn’t always rate as it should in the short term cut and thrust of politics.

But they are critical reforms, reforms that will drive future prosperity, transform how we do business, and define how well Australia meets our infrastructure challenges in coming years.

Second, how do we best manage the infrastructure challenges of a growing community, and ensure our cities are sustainable and provide the quality of life and opportunity we want.

Well-planned and sustainable cities are a major infrastructure priority of this government.

The former Government had an ideological objection to investing in public transport infrastructure despite the rising economic costs of urban congestion.

Australian cities drive 80 per cent of our GDP, three quarters of our jobs, and provide a base for 70 per cent of our businesses.

The freight task in our capital cities is expected to grow by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2025.

The Rudd Government is reengaging with our cities because they are the engine room of our economy, and no government with a genuine commitment to boost productivity can ignore our cities.

Recently I released the State of Our Cities 2010 Report. Along with the 3rd Intergenerational Report, it shines a bright light on where we must focus our effort, and sets the stage for the national urban policy.

It is the most comprehensive document of its kind produced in Australia. It examines and measures how productive, sustainable and liveable our cities are.

And it is a step change in the way we approach urban infrastructure and planning.

There is enormous community interest in this issue.

One indicator is that as of last Friday, we’ve had 166,690 downloads of the full report from our website.

It is clear that there is substantial community support for the national government to engage in our cities.

While our five major cities are rated among the top 35 most liveable cities in the world—more liveable than Milan or London or New York[1] – we know the costs of urban congestion are real.

If we don’t act, the avoidable costs of congestion will double to $20 billion every year by 2020.

And the human, social and environmental costs such as less time with family are of as much significance as the economic cost.

We know we can better manage congestion.

The COAG Cities Taskforce agreed National Objectives and Criteria for Future Strategic Planning of Capital Cities.

By 1 January 2012, all States will have capital city plans in place to meet these criteria.

COAG has recognised that future Australian Government infrastructure funding will consider the extent to which jurisdictions have met the agreed criteria of having comprehensive plans in place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Australian Government’s exile from urban policy is over.

Conclusion

I’m going to wrap up where I started.

Like Premier Forrest, we have begun a decade of nation building.

Nation building to recovery…and positioning Australia to take maximum advantage of global growth as it returns.

So our agenda for reform is as full as it ever was.

The challenges are daunting, but all the stories your hear about this government’s punishing work ethic are true!

Our first term agenda has put in place solid new foundations for infrastructure policy in Australia.

And in the coming months I look forward to working closely with all levels of government, the private sector, and the community – on ports, on freight, on cities, and on building a seamless, productive economy. These issues will be at the heart of a second term agenda for the Rudd Government.

ENDS

Apr 22, 2010

Address to Roads Australia’s National Roads Summit 2010

Address to Roads Australia’s National Roads Summit 2010

BUILDING ROADS FOR THE FUTURE

Sydney

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Thursday, 22 April 2010

 

I would like to start by thanking Roads Australia for the opportunity to come and talk to you today.

It’s almost two years since I had the pleasure of launching Roads Australia – which was then a newly transformed industry body.

Since then you have expanded. I understand you now have some 70 members, many which are represented here today.

You are the people who design and build our roads.

You are the people whose trucks move goods and services from the farm gate and the factory to our domestic and export markets.

You understand that an efficient transport system is critical for our nation.

And, as we all know, good policy is never created in a vacuum.

Only by working with industry can Governments implement evidence based policy that delivers real benefits on the ground.

Or, should I say, real benefits on our roads.

Over the last two and a half years, the Rudd Labor Government has moved decisively to implement a modern transport policy agenda fit for the 21st century.

Today, I want to talk to you about some of our key areas of reform, including:

  • Infrastructure investment;
  • Urban congestion; and
  • Smart Infrastructure.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS

Since taking office, we have substantially increased the Federal Government’s investment in transport infrastructure, to address a substantial backlog.

As the Global Recession began to hit, we rejected the advice of those who advocated “sit back and watch the impact before acting”.

Our Economic Stimulus Plan was decisive and helped to shield us from the worst of the global economic downturn.

The result is record investment in road, rail and port infrastructure.

We acted.

We brought forward the construction of 14 road projects. We initiated four new road projects.

We allocated $1.2 billion to the Australian Rail Track Corporation for 17 new rail projects.

We invested $4.5 billion in ‘shovel ready’ urban rail projects.

We allocated $150 million to install boom gates and other safety measures at 292 high risk level crossings across the country.

And we invested an additional $150 million to help fix over 600 notorious black spots on our roads.

This means we’re are now making an unprecedented $36 billion investment in road, rail and port infrastructure over six years.

Each of these stimulus projects has created jobs and new commercial opportunities for local builders and suppliers, during the biggest global downturn since the 1930s.

Our Economic Stimulus measures have kept some 200,000 Australians in work and Australia out of recession.

We were one of only two developed countries to avoid such a fate.

What’s more, at a time when other economies were shedding jobs, the Australian economy was actually creating them.

We have representatives from companies here today who have stated publically that the government’s stimulus spending did not only ensure employment was maintained, but also increased.

In fact, there are more Australians employed today than twelve months ago and our unemployment rate is now the second lowest in the OECD.

These job statistics are nothing short of impressive and by any measure an endorsement of our decisive actions.

As well as supporting jobs and growth during the economic crisis of the past 18 months, our Economic Stimulus Plan will leave a lasting legacy.

Long after recent events fade in our collective memory, the infrastructure built and modernised through our stimulus package will still be making our communities better places to live and our economy more productive.

The Economic Stimulus measures now bring our total investment in roads to $27.7 billion.

That’s more than twice what the previous government spent over a similar period of time.

As part of this, the Rudd Labor Government has set a goal for a first class Network 1.

The N1 is the key north south road freight corridor stretching along the eastern seaboard from Melbourne to Cairns.

It includes the Western Ring Road, the Hume, Pacific and Bruce Highways and key feeder roads; such as the Ipswich Motorway and the new Hunter Expressway.

This is Australia’s busiest road network and our most important freight route.

All these roads are beneficiaries from funding brought forward or allocated as part of our Economic Stimulus Plan.

We’re investing a record $3.1 billion to improve the Pacific Highway.

Construction is charging ahead on the Bulahdelah Bypass and the Banora Point upgrade and construction will start this year on the Kempsey Bypass.

These projects were all priorities in the Economic Stimulus Plan.

Right now, work is underway on more than 100 km of the Pacific Highway, with over 1,000 workers on North Coast sites.

Further south in NSW, we’re investing some $900 million in the Hume Highway.

With only three more projects to be completed, the Hume Highway has never been so close to its full duplication.

The Woomargama and Tarcutta Bypasses are now underway, thanks to funding brought forward through the Economic Stimulus Plan.

And construction on the last missing bypass around Holbrook is expected to get underway later this year.

North of Brisbane, the Rudd Government is investing $2.6 billion in the upgrade of the Bruce Highway.

This investment includes the long overdue Cooroy to Curra upgrade which was funded as part of our Economic Stimulus Plan.

Further south in Queensland, we’re investing $455 million to upgrade the Pacific Motorway. Work is now well underway on the section between Springwood South and Daisy Hill.

Again, it started ahead of schedule thanks to funding brought forward through our Economic Stimulus Plan.

We have also accelerated construction work on the N1s key feeder routes, like the Ipswich Motorway where we’re investing over $2.5 billion.

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of being in Ipswich to open the first section of the upgrade between Wacol and Darra.

It is not often you can say that you:

  • approved the funding for a project;
  • turned the first sod; and
  • cut the ribbon to open the new infrastructure.

That’s what I got to do on Sunday thanks to the hard work by the SAFELINK alliance, lead by Queensland Main Roads and Leighton Contractors.

Due to the funding brought forward as part of the Economic Stimulus Plan, this project was completed eight months ahead of schedule.

The delivery of this section of the Ipswich Motorway will help reduce congestion and improve travel times for the people of south east Queensland.

And it’s important that we single out what the key outcome of our Nation Building Program is.

It’s undertaken with one main objective in mind, and that is to help raise this nation’s productivity.

And our investment is providing a platform for future economic prosperity.

STREAMLINING THE PPP PROCESS

Our investment is substantial, but there is more to do.

That’s why it is critical that governments work with the private sector to leverage the opportunities at hand.

One of the most effective ways to encourage greater private sector involvement in the infrastructure sector is by making the PPP process simpler and easier.

The Government has tasked Infrastructure Australia to lead its efforts to streamline the PPP process in the area of infrastructure.

This starts by making sure the same PPP Guidelines apply in every State and Territory in Australia.

IA developed, and all governments across Australia have now endorsed, nationally-consistent, best practice guidelines for the use of PPPs.

Australian governments must now consider PPPs as a procurement option in infrastructure projects that are valued at $50 million or more.

The IA website now provides a pipeline of projects that are being delivered, or are in the process of being procured via PPP.

The website also lists projects that have been identified as potential candidates for PPPs, giving potential investors a timeframe for possible release to the market.

This sort of transparency gives potential investors, near and far, an insight into infrastructure development activity in Australia and shows we are serious about nation building.

It’s also encouraging that we’re now seeing a next generation of road PPPs starting to roll out.

We’re seeing the rise of the availability payment model for roads.

And the Peninsula Link in Victoria is one good example of how the private sector can work with governments on alternative funding models.

URBAN CONGESTION

I would now like to turn to the task of tackling urban congestion.

It requires a comprehensive response with Governments and the private sector working together with the community.

Some of you might have seen the State of Australian Cities Report 2010 that I released earlier this year.

This report has been developed by the Major Cities Unit.

It is the most comprehensive document of its kind produced.

It brings together in one place a diverse range of data about how productive, sustainable and liveable our cities are.

The report’s findings are stark.

In the absence of real action, the annual cost of urban congestion is predicted to double to more than $20 billion by the end of the decade.

Already our urban roads are used by more than 9.5 million motorbikes, cars, buses and trucks every year.

And the reality is that our cities will not become less congested by simply building more roads.

Effective transport solutions don’t come about by pitting one mode of transport against another.

We can’t have a plan for moving freight without having a plan for moving people.

Nor can you separate the planning for regional areas from urban areas.

It’s not a competition between road and rail or regional and urban Australia.

But rather, it’s about creating the right solution for each specific task in a way that builds a better overall system.

What we need is appropriate plans for complementary transport modes dealing with the task at hand across the country.

And the Government is putting in place practical policies to do just that.

We’re developing a new policy framework for our cities through the Major Cities Unit.

And we have tasked Infrastructure Australia to develop a National Freight Strategy.

SMART INFRASTRUCTURE

We also need to be smarter and increase the efficiency of existing infrastructure.

Which brings me to one of the 21st century’s buzz terms – Smart Infrastructure.

The expression ‘smart infrastructure’ means different things to different people.

Recently, it was described by a reasonably reputable media outlet as ‘gobbledegook’.

To me, Smart Infrastructure is shorthand for innovative, technology-based, adaptive infrastructure.

Some of you would be aware that the Government’s Smart Infrastructure Inquiry is now underway and taking submissions.

Information technology has enormous potential to help tackle infrastructure bottlenecks and ease urban congestion.

We are now beginning to see practical, every day examples of smart infrastructure right across the country.

Traffic signals that prioritise bus flow.

Advanced technologies that allows for variable speed limits and lane management systems.

It’s fair to say that even first generation applications are proving their mettle, and improving our management of congested cities.

We know from our personal experience that technology often moves faster than our imagination.

20 years from now the type of vehicles on our roads will be different.

The way our roads function will be different.

Integration between transport modes will be different.

We can’t say with certainty today what those changes will be.

But we can say with certainty that there will be change.

By embracing this change with innovative, technology based, adaptive solutions, we will reap significant benefits for productivity and the living standards in our country.

I would encourage you, the infrastructure industry of Australia, to engage in the Smart Infrastructure Inquiry.

We need to hear your views of what’s happening on the front line in terms of innovation, progress, and technology.

While I’m on the topic of asking for your involvement, I would also like to give a quick plug for the inaugural Australian Smart Infrastructure Awards.

Nominations are now open for excellence in design, delivery, and use of infrastructure in any of Infrastructure Australia’s national priority areas, including rail freight, water and urban development.

Nominations close on 14 May so you still have some four weeks to put your best bid forward – you can find more details about this on my Department’s website.

CONCLUSION

So, to conclude I want to quickly recap what the Rudd Labor Government is doing to drive a transport agenda fit for the 21st century.

We are investing a record $36 billion in road, rail and ports right across the country to build new and upgrade existing infrastructure.

And we are working with industry and private sector to leverage opportunities, both in the area of investment and innovation.

Together with all layers of government – and importantly, you, our industry stakeholders – we need and will continue driving this important reform agenda.

I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you here today and into the future.

ENDS

 

Mar 29, 2010

Address to the Australian Davos Connection Cities Summit

Address to the Australian Davos Connection Cities Summit

Melbourne

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Friday, 29 March 2010

It’s always a pleasure to return to Melbourne.

As you know, I’m from Sydney.

When we talk about Australian cities, the conversation inevitably turns to the rivalry between these two great cities.

This rivalry is why we have Canberra – although in my view, we have ended up with a splendid national capital.

Sydney versus Melbourne is discussed around BBQ’s, family gatherings, sporting events and boardrooms.

But debate about cities in 2010, is much broader than this rivalry between two great cities.

It varies according to where you come from, where you live now and where you’re going to live in the future in our increasingly transient society.

Perth advocates will argue the beauty of what is the most isolated major city on Earth.

And I know there’s a Prime Minister, a Treasurer and a Governor General who will argue that Brisbane has emerged as a great global city over recent times.

Then there are the thriving regional cities such as Geelong, Newcastle, Wollongong, Townsville, Launceston and the Gold Coast.

It should be of no surprise that Australians are interested in talking about the future of our cities.

The 17 major cities are home to 75 per cent of the population.

These cities deliver 80 per cent of our GDP, 75 per cent of our employment, and are the principal base for 70 per cent of our businesses.

Recently, the world clicked over an important milestone. Today, more people on this planet live in urban areas than rural communities.

What is remarkable is that any national Government could argue it does not have a role in our cities.

The Rudd Government is reengaging the Commonwealth with our cities because it is an essential component of governing in the national interest.

As a national government, we need to make all of our cities the best that they can possibly be.

We have a core commitment to ensure our engagement promotes the three themes of productivity, sustainability and liveability in our cities.

This is not an academic debate.

These issues impact on people’s everyday lives – the time that parents spend in their car getting to and from work instead of at home with their children, whether their neighbourhood has a footy oval or a playground or other social infrastructure, how far they have to travel to get to the doctor, the hospital, and where are their educational opportunities – the local school, TAFE or university.

These are all topical debates in local communities today and increasingly, they are moving to the national stage.

As they should be.

The future of our cities requires national leadership as well as cooperation between all three levels of government, the private sector and the community.

There was a time when our cities were left almost totally to their own devices.

According to the principle of subsidiarity, it was best then that municipalities alone made major decisions about how to grow and evolve.

But the gaps between our cities are narrowing and our cities’ impacts on the rest of the nation are increasing.

What happens in our cities today affects not only their inhabitants, it affects, our economic productivity, our ability to reach international export markets and our climate.

THE STATE OF AUSTRALIAN CITIES

I want you to consider some sobering facts associated with the failure to plan appropriately for our cities, contained in The State of Australian Cities Report 2010, which I released recently.

  • By 2050 it is expected the populations of Perth and Brisbane will double, and the populations of Melbourne and Sydney will reach seven million. As our cities use 75 per cent of our energy, and 97 percent of this energy is generated from non-renewable sources, we have a growing emissions challenge on our hands.
  • Car use is increasing faster than population growth—in fact it has gone up thirty-fold since 1950.
  • Greater distances are opening up between residential and employment zones, further increasing emissions and chewing up more hours of our lives.
  • The freight task on our roads is forecast to increase by 70 percent between 2003 and 2020.
  • The economic cost of avoidable traffic congestion is projected to rise from $9.4 billion in 2005 to $20.4 billion dollars by 2020 unless action is taken.
  • Pressure is being placed on the agricultural land on the fringes of our cities.
  • Water security is an challenge, particularly for a city such as Adelaide.

Without planning for the future, our cities will become less productive economically, their liveability will suffer and they will be far less sustainable.

OUR COMPETITIVENESS AND LIVEABILITY ARE AT STAKE

I want you to consider what’s happening to one of our big comparative economic advantages in the world—our famed liveability.

The Economist Intelligence Unit last year placed Melbourne third and all other major Australian capitals in the top 20, on its index of the stability, health care, education, infrastructure, culture and environment of the world’s 140 major cities.

We should be aiming to hold on to this advantage. But there is evidence we may not be.

In Mercer’s world-wide quality-of-living survey, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane all slipped in the rankings in the five years to 2009.

We still have some of the world’s most liveable cities. But Sydney, for instance, fell from fifth to tenth, Melbourne from 12th to 18th.

Take the crucial urban issue of social equity.

Again, our cities are some of the least socially divided in the world. But there is an observable increasing concentration of social disadvantage in the older middle and older outer suburban areas.

When you add to this findings, like the fact that there is only one affordable dwelling for purchase for every 15 low-income households in Sydney, and that Australia lost 90,000 social housing dwellings between 1996 and 2008, our cities are losing their egalitarian flavour.

This is something I worry about and I’m sure you do too. We don’t want our children growing up in divided cities. We’ve seen what occurs with social unrest in other countries.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND BETTER URBAN PLANNING

The State of Australian Cities report is a wake-up call, as well as an indication of how we can overcome the problem. What it tells us is that the cities that are now out-performing ours are generally those that invest more heavily in infrastructure and have strong urban policies.

It makes the absence of the former Government from the urban policy debate all the more remarkable.

This isn’t a new or startling public policy issue.

In 1961 the author and urban commentator Jane Jacobs published one of the most important post-war books on urban renewal—The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In it she wrote this:

Whenever and wherever societies have flourished and prospered rather than stagnated and decayed, creative and workable cities have been at the core of the phenomenon. They have pulled their weight and more…Decaying cities, declining economies and mounting social troubles travel together. The combination is not coincidental.

That understanding has had an impact on visionary politicians ever since.

On John F. Kennedy, who tried, unsuccessfully, to establish a Department of Urban Affairs in 1962. And on his brother Bobby, who made urban renewal a major part of his tragic campaign for the presidency in 1968.

Barack Obama is now re-engaging the United States Government in cities policy.

And in the early 1970s in Australia, Gough Whitlam and Tom Uren made urban policy a national priority here in Australia. That tradition was continued by the Hawke-Keating Government which established the Better Cities program, led by Brian Howe, to revitalise inner urban communities.

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

And our cities are paying the price today.

What we need are better cities for the people who live and work in them, as well as those who visit them.

A COOPERATIVE APPROACH

That takes planning, funding, co-operation between governments, partnerships between the public and private sectors and, most importantly, the involvement of the people who live in our cities.

State and Territory Governments and the 155 local governments of our major cities influence their future direction.

Given the Australian Government’s primary role in economic policy, infrastructure provision and social welfare it is clear that a national framework is needed.

It means two things: coordinated planning and smarter investments in infrastructure and services.

A ROLE FOR THE COMMONWEALTH

Well-planned cities are central to the nation’s continued economic growth and to the wellbeing of local communities.

In fact, few areas of public policy have the potential to improve the day-to-day lives of Australians as better urban policy.

We will undoubtedly become wealthier on average in the years to come—but whether or not our lives become easier and more enjoyable as a result will depend largely on how we organise urban life.

That’s why we are developing a national urban policy through the Major Cities Unit.

The policy is about creating cities that are more productive and globally competitive, more liveable, and more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

It is providing a spatial perspective on the major issues facing Australia: housing, transport, infrastructure, water, climate change, health, education and social policy generally.

And we are already cooperating on better urban planning through the Council of Australian Governments.

One of the problems Infrastructure Australia encountered during its prioritisation of nationally significant infrastructure was an inconsistency between metropolitan land use plans and infrastructure proposals.

This led to the establishment of the COAG Cities Planning Taskforce and to COAG agreeing to national objectives and criteria for future strategic planning of capital cities in December last year.

The goal of those national objectives is to ensure that the planning of our capital cities is long-term and strategic, fully integrated, and coordinated across all three levels of government.

It will ensure urban planning identifies policy and infrastructure priorities, that those priorities are practical, and that they address issues of national importance, including economic growth, population increases and population ageing.

COAG has agreed that, by 1 January 2012, all States will have in place capital city plans that meet the criteria—and that decisions about future Commonwealth urban and infrastructure funding will be tied to those plans.

I want to make it absolutely plain that the Rudd Government will not be shy about following through on this promise.

Change is already happening.

The South East Queensland Plan is best practice in integrating transport, water, energy and services infrastructure planning up to 2030. It provides a pipeline of projects to encourage both public and private investment and is a great example of partnership between state and local governments.

The recent announcement of the new Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority to drive future transit-oriented development and urban renewal is further proof of action from state governments on integrated urban planning. This Authority will include a Commonwealth representative, ensuring a national perspective is applied to the vision of Australia’s largest city.

The Victorian Government’s Investing in Transport Report and the recently announced 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide are other examples of planning for our cities.

ASSISTING LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local government too plays a major role in urban planning.

The partnership between the Commonwealth and local governments we established in 2008 through the Australian Council of Local Government continues strongly, delivering major increases in local government funding and community infrastructure investment in our cities and our regions.

It includes record funding to local governments through the $1 billion Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.

And we are also working with local governments to improve their capacity to plan, provide and manage infrastructure and services in their communities.

We have set aside $25 million for a Local Government Reform Fund to improve the sustainability of our local governments and to encourage collaborations and partnerships.

Today as part of this, I want to announce that the Rudd Government will provide nearly $2.4 million for Victorian local governments.

Specialist teams will work with councils to examine their long term financial sustainability and identify areas where improvements can be made.

The project builds on a successful pilot project where ten Victorian councils were able to make better and more informed decisions on community infrastructure and services through better planning and budgeting.

This funding will also improve the management of community assets and infrastructure in regional Victoria.

INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Our work on planning and developing a coherent policy framework has not stopped us from getting on with the job of investing in the future of our cities.

This includes a $36 billion investment in vital transport infrastructure, including the largest ever national investment in urban passenger rail.

It includes our investment in a National Broadband Network—recognising that in the digital age, connectivity is about more than cars, buses and trains.

And it includes investment in major urban water infrastructure such as the desalination plant in Adelaide.

These are long term investments which will serve the needs of Australians now and into the future.

All our future infrastructure investments will give appropriate recognition of the role of smart infrastructure.

Smart infrastructure will be a central component of the shift towards a systems approach to infrastructure, planning, design and delivery.

We want our infrastructure to work smarter by utilising new information technologies.

Last November I established an inquiry into the issue by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

It held a major conference on the issue just a couple of weeks ago.

CONCLUSION

We are all here today because we are interested in urban issues.

It’s a crucial and challenging area of public policy.

And one whose importance extends far beyond a single policy silo.

It covers the whole range of future issues facing our nation.

The way we run our cities—and how well we run them—will help define how successful a nation we will be in providing a better life for our people.

Cooperation between all levels of government and the private sector is the answer.

Better and more strategic planning is the answer.

And investment is the answer.

This sort of action is now happening.

And what we’re doing here today is part of one of the most exciting and important public policy journeys in Australia.

We—all levels of government and business—have a big task ahead of us and a responsibility to do it well.

I am looking forward to the challenge.

ENDS

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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