Browsing articles in "Opinion Pieces"
Mar 20, 2017

Why Anthony Albanese wants politicians to take craft beer seriously

Poet Henry Lawson once wrote: “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer”.

Many Australians would agree, particularly at the end of a hot summer’s day.

But in 2017 there’s a serious economic side to beer that needs genuine attention from Australian governments – the significant potential for jobs growth in the craft beer industry.

Australia’s annual consumption of beer has been declining in recent years.

But despite this, craft brewing is growing strongly and has taken nearly 10 per cent of the national market.

The industry is worth about $400 million a year and, according to Austrade, there are about 200 small breweries around the nation.

The research shows that drinkers in their 20s and 30s in particular are attracted to boutique brews for their variety in taste as well as the fact that they are produced locally, in their own communities.

Craft beer looms as an economic opportunity that we cannot afford to ignore.

If we get the policy settings right, this industry could deliver thousands of new jobs. And like many other small businesses, they tend to employ locals.

However, based on the feedback I received from brewers in Sydney’s inner west, current policy settings need some work.

They were created at a time when big international brewers dominated the industry and they work against the expansion of craft brewing.

For example, the rate of federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for smaller kegs.

This works in favour of big brewers and against small brewers.

Excise accounts for about 46 per cent of a small brewer’s costs – almost half of the costs to actually produce the beer.

This makes no sense. It must be reviewed.

Craft brewers also warn they are being strangled by paperwork that consumes about a day out of each week – time they could better spend on marketing and product development.

Their third problem is the difficulty they face obtaining town planning approvals to establish small bars on site at their breweries, in the same way that many wineries offer wine-tasting facilities on site.

While such applications need to be balanced against the rights of nearby residents, the industry points out that, just like wine-tasting, beer-tasting has no heritage of promoting anti-social behaviour.

Beer enthusiasts are in it for the taste, not the volume.

Local government regulation in this area is somewhat inflexible. It needs to be updated to facilitate economic development in communities that are crying out for job creation.

There is also huge potential in craft beer tourism – whereby operators set up walking tours where enthusiasts visit several breweries to sample different types of beer.

Craft beer tours are already available in the inner west as well as in Adelaide and Melbourne and other parts of the country.

But I’d like to see more.

Sydney’s inner west is just one area with thriving small breweries providing jobs for locals, supplying pubs and restaurants and attracting tourists.

Regional centres around Australia are developing local brewing centres as well as the capital cities.

So it is time for governments to work with the industry to set this already promising industry on the path to greater prosperity.

In particular, we should be working with beer producers to lift exports, particularly to Asia.

In China alone, for example, the market for premium beer is expected to be worth $35 billion by 2020. Chinese purchases of Australian wine have skyrocketed in recent years. We should add beer to the menu.

Because beer is perishable, Australia’s proximity to such massive markets offers us a real advantage over potential rivals.

The need for continued economic growth to drive job creation demands that Australia grasp these opportunities.

Anthony Albanese is the Member for Grayndler and Shadow Minister for Tourism. Inner west brewery Willie the Boatman named a beer after him.

This piece was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald  on Monday, 20 March 20, 2017
http://bit.ly/2nTe7HX

Mar 5, 2017

Opinion Piece- Going to the footy is good for the economy

As an eight-year-old watching the 1971 Rugby League Grand Final at the Sydney Cricket Ground, I could never have imagined the important role that football would come to play in the Australian economy in the 21st century.

While the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs took home the premiership that year, the entire Australian economy is the beneficiary of the stunning rise in sport-related tourism in this country.

Each weekend thousands of Australians travel to watch their favourite sporting teams compete interstate. As they gather like tribes on enemy territory to enjoy their teams’ away games, they flood local economies with money for accommodation, food and associated tourism activities.

This economic activity creates jobs. That’s why we need more of it.

The rise in sporting tourism is the result of a happy confluence of events over the past three or four decades. The first is the rise of national sporting competitions across many major codes, including rugby league, Australian rules, rugby union, soccer, cricket, basketball and netball. The second is the steady decline in the cost of air travel thanks to competition created by the rise of budget airlines, which have brought air travel within reach of average Australian families.

In 1988 I saved for months to raise $1900 to fly return to London. Nearly 30 years later, you won’t pay much more than that, and you can fly between Australian capital cities for less than $100.

For governments and for communities that are home to major sporting teams, this presents an economic opportunity. We need to understand that sporting facilities have become important components of economic infrastructure and support communities that aspire to develop world-class stadiums.

The trend is well underway in our big capital cities. Melbourne’s claim to be the sporting capital of Australia is hard to resist when you consider the quality of its sporting stadiums. They are central, comfortable and easily accessible by public transport or on foot from CBD hotels.

Likewise, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium is perhaps the best rugby league facility in the world. Hotels, pubs and restaurants in its vicinity thrive because of its existence.

Next year Perth will open what it is already promoting as the nation’s best multi-purpose stadium and thousands of new hotel rooms are under construction right now to cater for the anticipated resulting tourism demand.

Adelaide businesses have been beneficiaries of the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval, a magnificent facility that has included the roof climb as a tourism experience.

Likewise, the Sydney Cricket Ground has been renovated to improve the amenity while respecting the historical character of the ground.

Now it is time to for governments to think harder about the potential for sporting tourism in regional Australia.

In Townsville, for example, federal, state and local government are working together with the private sector to develop a new home for the North Queensland Cowboys. If we get that development right, the new stadium will not just create short-term jobs in the construction industry, but will also attract thousands of rugby league fans from around the nation to the completed stadium. While they will go to Townsville to see their teams battle the Cowboys, many will stay for a long weekend or even a week to sample the region’s tourism offerings, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Last year I visited Geelong’s Kardinia Park, the home of the Geelong Cats, where officials are seeking government support for the continuing expansion of the ground, which earlier this month hosted international cricket for the first time.

And in Canberra, there is a growing push for construction of a bigger and more central stadium that could attract weekend visitors from Sydney and beyond for the city’s Raiders and Brumbies, as well as for visiting AFL teams.

There’s also great potential for soccer’s A League to drive regional growth. Centres including Gosford and Newcastle, and indeed Western Sydney, have their own teams backed by very loyal fans who are happy to follow them far and wide.

Of course, there is only so much public money available for contribution to developing sporting stadiums. But with the changing patterns of behaviour, we need to understand that the economics of sport and tourism are changing. They will keep changing too. The past year has seen an amazing explosion in women’s sport, including netball, cricket, AFL, soccer, rugby league and rugby union. There are so many opportunities to be grasped.

Now’s the time for governments, sporting codes and tourism organisations to work together to harness and maximise the potential benefits in the national interest.

This piece was first published in The Huffington Post  today: http://huff.to/2lJFAtR

Feb 24, 2017

Strategies in Place for Cheap Transport – Opinion – The Australian

The efficiency of Australia’s ports is critical to our efforts to broaden Australia’s sources of economic and jobs growth in the wake of the end of the investment stage of the mining boom.

At a time of economic transition, we must ensure that our railways, roads and ports have sufficient capacity to support non-mining sectors, particularly in regional areas.

Businesses crave logistical certainty.

That’s why 2017 is the right time to lift investment in transport infrastructure, a point made repeatedly by business leaders and economists including Reserve Bank chairman Philip Lowe and his predecessor, Glenn Stevens.

We could start by getting on with the long-proposed Inland Rail project linking Brisbane and Melbourne, which would significantly boost capacity through our nation’s eastern agricultural heartland.

The former Labor Government invested $600 million improving those parts of the existing lines that would form part of Inland Rail and left $300 million in the Budget for further work.

But since 2013, not a single sleeper has been laid.

That’s not good enough.

In NSW we need to increase the capacity of the Port Botany by completing the duplication of the Port Botany Rail Line as well as the Maldon-Dombarton rail link, which would connect Port Kembla and south-west Sydney.

But as important as it is to lift investment, that investment must meet long-term strategic imperatives. If the wrong projects are funded, it will divert funds from productivity boosting projects.

The Perth Freight Link was announced in its 2014 Budget, without the benefit of a detailed plan or any cost-benefit analysis into the project.

While the stated aim of this project is to take trucks to the Port of Fremantle, planning has been so chaotic that on the current design, the road would stop 3km short of the port.

That’s not good enough either.

But the broader strategic issue is that the Port of Fremantle will reach full capacity within just a few years.

Rather than building the Freight Link, we should focus on port capacity in the long term.

It makes more sense to focus on the development of the Outer Harbour proposal, along with investment in public transport in Perth to take cars off the roads and deliver productivity gains across the entire economy.

Strategic planning is critical.

Last November, in his annual address to Parliament on infrastructure, the Prime Minister announced a plan to develop a strategy to increase the productivity and efficiency of Australia’s freight supply chain.

This is unnecessary. The work has already been done.

Under the former Federal Labor Government, Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission were tasked with consulting with industry, as well as the states and territories, to produce the National Ports Strategy and the National Land Freight Strategy.

Together with the creation of national regulators, historic shipping reforms and Labor’s Government’s record infrastructure budget, these strategies provided a strong foundation for rising productivity and faster economic growth.

In the globalised world of the 21st Century, the prices consumers pay and the health of businesses more depends than ever on having better, less congested roads, faster, more reliable railways and modern, efficient sea and air ports.

The National Ports Strategy, produced in January, 2011, promotes better long term planning on the waterfront, with operators required to publish 15 to 30 year master plans detailing expected growth at their ports and the facilities required to handle that growth.

It also streamlined environmental approval processes and established protocols for better planning around ports, with state and local planning authorities required to implement “buffer” strategies to prevent encroachment on the ports as well as road and rail corridors.

The National Land Freight Strategy set out principles for greater focus on an integrated transport system designed to move goods into and out of major ports and around our country quickly, reliably and at lowest cost.

These strategies provide a clear framework for moving forward.

Anthony Albanese is the opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

This piece appeared in the Australian newspaper today.

ENDS

Feb 24, 2017

Make Airport the Way to Land a Job – Opinion – Daily Telegraph

Employment opportunities at the Western Sydney Airport hold so much potential that they demand genuine and intense community engagement.

Our task is to ensure that as many of the new jobs as possible are filled by people from Western Sydney and that those jobs include training components that deliver skills they can use for the rest of their working lives. It’s not just jobs building the airport; it is jobs building the road and rail infrastructure and then ongoing jobs created by the airport as a catalyst. These jobs should have a training component providing transferable skills for local young people and re-skilling opportunities for mature age workers.

We need to collaborate on a jobs and skills plan that provides a skilled workforce capable of contributing not just to the airport, but to future projects. This effort should engage the entire community including councils, business groups, schools and universities, TAFE, unions and others.

The airport project should result in hundreds of young people from Western Sydney being engaged on the construction site as apprentices.

Labor leader Bill Shorten pointed the way, committing a future Labor government to ensuring 10 per cent of the workforce on Commonwealth funded infrastructure projects should be apprentices. The Western Sydney Airport is the perfect opportunity.

Schools and TAFEs in Western Sydney must be equipped to prepare today’s young people for the apprenticeship opportunities that beckon.

Likewise, we must think now about what industries have potential to flourish once the airport begins operations and collaborate with TAFE colleges and the University of Western Sydney to encourage them to focus more heavily on those skills.

On Tuesday I spent time with western suburbs-based company Celestino and Penrith mayor John Thain and his team to discuss the 2500 hectare Sydney Science Park in Luddenham.

This is an exciting development which is encouraged by the airport that will provide 12,000 jobs for the region in innovation, education and research. It will include 3400 dwellings on site. A deal has already been done with Catholic education to provide for Australia’s first K-12 STEM school in the country, which will accommodate 2000 students.

The Sydney Science Park exemplifies the multitude of business opportunities associated with the airport.

Anthony Albanese is the opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

This piece is an extract from a speech to yesterday’s Western Sydney Aerotropolis Summit. It was first published in today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph.

 

 

Feb 22, 2017

Infrastructure investment will boost regional jobs – Opinion – The Newcastle Herald

One issue over which there is bipartisan agreement in Australia is the need to find new drivers of jobs growth in the wake of the decline in mining investment.

Australia can no longer rely on mining to drive growth, so we must invest in innovation to build new industries, while also boosting growth in existing sectors like agriculture.

While that is a huge economic challenge, it also offers magnificent opportunities, particularly for regional centres like the Hunter – if we get the policy settings right. This means investing in the railways, roads and communications technology that businesses need to thrive.

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has urged the Federal Government to invest in transport infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion and drive economic growth. Mr Lowe is correct. Strategic investments now will boost the economy by generating jobs and economic activity in the short term, while also lifting productivity and capacity in the long-term.

However, in the Turnbull Government’s first two years in office, total public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent. Bureau of Statistics data released last month show the value of work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Coalition Government than in any of the 21 quarters under the Labor Government after its first budget in 2008. That’s lower in every single quarter. The cuts have slowed the progress of key road projects, including the Pacific Highway upgrade, important for increased productivity as well as road safety. A forward-looking government would take the hand-brake off that project and get behind other infrastructure projects.

It should start in the Hunter, where completing the Glendale Interchange would unlock huge economic potential of the Cardiff Industrial Estate and the Glendale shopping precinct. Independent economic analysis has found this project would create about 10,000 long-term jobs. This is why Hunter Councils describes the Glendale Interchange as the region’s most-significant infrastructure project.

We should also expedite progress on the proposed High Speed Rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. High Speed Rail would turbo-charge travel between capital cities on the east coast, while offering new opportunities for regional centres along its path including Newcastle. It would provide real opportunities for companies to base their operations in Newcastle, as well as shortening commuting times to Sydney.

In 2013 the former Labor Government allocated $50 million to create a High Speed Rail authority to start securing the corridor for the line. The incoming Coalition Government scrapped that funding and, almost four years later, has done nothing to advance the project.

The regions also need fibre-to-the-premises broadband, not the copper-based fraudband at twice the price and offering half the internet speeds that were promised. High speed broadband should be an economic enabler for the regions. But in the past four years, Australian internet speeds have tumbled from 30th in the world to 60th.

When governments take a short-term, hands-off approach to nation building, they miss opportunities to build the foundations for waves of future economic growth.

But it takes political vision.

This piece was published in The Newcastle Herald today.
http://bit.ly/2kWPW9o

Feb 13, 2017

High speed rail will help Canberra and the bush – Opinion – Canberra Times

One issue over which there is bipartisan agreement in Australia is the need to find new drivers of jobs growth in the wake of the decline in mining investment.

Australia can no longer rely on mining to drive growth, so we must invest in innovation to build new industries, while also boosting growth in existing sectors like agriculture.

That’s a huge economic challenge. But if we get the policy settings right, it’s also a magnificent opportunity, particularly for rural and regional Australia.

Getting the policy settings right means investing in the railways, roads and communications technology that businesses need to thrive.

Fibre-based broadband is particularly important. In the 21st century, high-speed broadband can conquer the tyranny of distance, providing new opportunities for economic activity and job creation right across the nation – not just in the capital cities.

In the Turnbull Government’s first two years in office, total public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent. Indeed, Bureau of Statistics data released last month shows the value of work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Abbott-Turnbull governments than in any of the 21 quarters under the Rudd-Gillard governments after the first Labor budget in 2008. That’s lower in every single quarter.

The cuts have slowed the progress of important road projects around the country, including the upgrades of the Pacific and Bruce Highways, which are critical for increased productivity as well as road safety.

We also need to achieve progress on the inland rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne, which would expand freight capacity through our nation’s agricultural heartland. Building this project is a no-brainer, which was why the previous Labor Federal Government invested $600 million upgrading existing track that will form part of the line and allocated $300 million to get the project under way.

But despite the Government promising in the 2013 and 2016 election campaigns to fast-track inland rail, not a further sleeper has been laid.

Our nation should also invest in the proposed High Speed Rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra, which would turbo-charge economic development in regional Australia.

High Speed Rail would allow people to move between capitals in as little as three hours. It would slash the journey between Sydney and Canberra to 40 minutes, quicker than it takes to travel from Sydney’s suburbs to its CBD.

Delivering this project would provide new options for companies to base their operations in Canberra, reducing their costs and providing more jobs in the nation’s capital.

But that’s just Canberra. High Speed Rail would be an economic game-changer for all communities along its path, including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wagga Wagga, the Southern Highlands, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

It was this potential that was behind the former Labor Government’s 2013 decision to allocate $50 million to a high-speed rail authority to advance planning and begin to secure the corridor. The incoming Coalition Government scrapped that funding and, nearly four years later, has yet to outline an alternative approach, despite strong support for high-speed rail on its backbench and in the business community.

The regions also need fibre-to-the-premises broadband, not the copper-based “fraudband” at twice the price and offering half the internet speeds that were promised.

We should be using everything technology has to offer to boost growth in rural and regional Australia. In the past four years, Australian internet speeds have tumbled from 30th in the world to 60th. Second-rate broadband is not good enough, particularly for regional Australia.

When governments focus on productivity and capacity building, they can make a real difference to regional economies. For evidence, look no further than Canberra’s Majura Parkway, which was funded in 2011 and opened in April last year. This project has boosted the ACT’s productivity by diverting thousands of trucks around the Canberra CBD, ending the situation where they contributed to traffic congestion by travelling through the centre of town.

Such productivity gains are available all over regional Australia.

When governments take a short-term, hands-off approach to nation building, they miss the opportunity to build the foundations for waves of economic future growth. As John F. Kennedy said: “Things don’t happen, they are made to happen.”

Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

This opinion piece was published in today’s edition of The Canberra Times.
http://bit.ly/2lEcEEh

Feb 8, 2017

We must get up to speed on road safety – Opinion – The Huffington Post Australia

We all know the uncomfortable feeling.

You are driving along a highway at the speed limit.

Suddenly, a semi-trailer appears out of nowhere and begins tail-gating your vehicle. It seems the driver won’t be satisfied until you pull over and let him pass.

There’s a likely explanation for this risky behaviour — the imposition on the driver by his employer of an unrealistic deadline for the delivery of the load. That’s why he’s speeding.

In Australia in 2017, we should not tolerate a situation where unchecked market forces compromise public safety.

This is why it is almost incomprehensible that the Turnbull Government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal  last year with no alternative road safety strategy in place.

The former Labor Government created the RSRT in 2012 to set minimum pay rates that would allow truck drivers to make a fair living while removing incentives for them to adopt unsafe practices such as speeding or, even worse, abusing drugs to stay awake.

The creation of the tribunal was a road safety measure.

It was a position based on extensive consultation with trucking companies, the Transport Workers Union and safety experts who agreed to strip incentives for dangerous behaviour out of the system in the public interest.

That is why it is so disappointing that the Government scrapped the tribunal after some owner drivers rebelled against a finding on pay rates which they believed was unreasonable.

Rather than looking rationally at their concerns, the Prime Minister whipped up the controversy in the lead-up to the federal election as part of his broader war on trade unions.

It is always a mistake to allow politics to compromise decisions relating to road safety, particularly when our road toll is rising after years of decline.

The Bureau of Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Economics has reported there were 1300 fatalities on Australian roads last year – 8 percent more than in 2015. Fatalities in December of last year were up 23 percent on December, 2015. Trucks account for only 2 percent of registered vehicles in Australia. Yet they are involved in 16 percent of all traffic accidents.

These disturbing facts require a serious policy response. But since the RSRT was abolished, there is now no national safety plan for heavy vehicles.

That’s not good enough.

The Government has a responsibility to respond seriously to the fact that the road toll is once again headed in the wrong direction.

A serious policy response should involve greater investment on roads to ensure they are in good condition.

What we have seen is reduced infrastructure investment that has seen a slow-down in the progress of important upgrades to the Bruce and Pacific Highways.

A serious approach would also involve addressing the structural characteristics of the transport system that encourage unsafe driving.

This isn’t about unions. It happens that the TWU, which represents truck drivers, has shown leadership in this issue. But its advocacy is about road safety, not just for its members, but for all Australians.

Late last year, Transport Minister Darren Chester, concerned about the upward trajectory of the road toll, announced an inquiry to find out what was going wrong. Research is always welcome, but the link between lax regulation and road death is well and truly established.

It’s time to re-examine the structural problem with a transport system that puts the imperative to minimise costs ahead of the far more serious issue of public safety on our roads.

It was graphically highlighted in 2000 when a parliamentary committee produced a unanimous report highlighting the problem. Page one of that bipartisan report said: “Risks are compounded by the commercial imperative on transport operators to maximise the return on their investment, the demands of customers and by the pressure this places on transport workers to undertake longer hours with fewer rest breaks.”

Indeed, NSW Nationals Senator John Williams, a former truck driver, told the Senate on March 20, 2012, that he understood why Labor had introduced the RSRT. Senator Williams said: “We are talking about safe rates. We are talking about what truckies are paid, especially the contractors when they unload at Coles and Woolworths. I do not have a problem with what you are proposing.”

It is clear that the acceptance of the need for a tribunal by Senator Williams and his colleagues was put on ice last year for political convenience.

But the time for politics is over.

It’s time to re-examine the structural problem with a transport system that puts the imperative to minimise costs ahead of the far more serious issue of public safety on our roads.

Safe rates mean safer roads for all.

This Opinion piece was published today by The Huffington Post
http://huff.to/2kjUreV

Feb 3, 2017

I have nothing but admiration for my mother for raising me on her own – Opinion – Mamamia

The starting point for aspiring politicians should be a willingness to treat all Australians with respect.

Regardless of people’s wealth, race, gender, religion or sexuality, they deserve equal regard from their elected representatives.

That includes single mothers.

That’s why it is so disappointing that the One Nation Party has launched yet another attack on single mothers for cheap political gain.

This week it emerged that a One Nation candidate in the WA election, David Archibald, wrote an essay in Quadrant in 2015 in which he said single mothers had made “a lifestyle choice’’ and that they were “too lazy to attract and hold a mate’’.

He went on to denigrate the children of single mothers, saying they were causing an increase in the number of people who were “lazy and ugly’’.

One would have thought that a leader of a serious political party would have responded to these comments by distancing the party from a man who should be a former candidate.

But when One Nation founder Pauline Hanson was challenged on these comments, she doubled down by tweeting: “To all the fat lazy politicians & fat lazy journalists in the fat lazy media playing fat lazy, PC, identity politics – the answer is no”.

Ms Hanson and Mr Archibald ought to learn to respect their fellow Australians.

There’s something very wrong about an Australia in which politicians seek election to represent the community by vilifying its most vulnerable citizens.

All Australians are worthy of respect.

Whatever the circumstances in which women become single mothers, they are fellow Australians who are raising the next generation of Australians.

They deserve support.

Yet to some politicians, single mothers are political cannon fodder who can be disrespected as a means of seeking media attention and encouraging intolerance and division.

Many single mothers work, juggling their need to provide an income with the difficulty of raising children alone. That’s not easy.

Others combine parenting with study to increase their chances of finding work. That’s not easy either.

Other single mothers are not in a position to work.

As people are now aware as a result of Karen Middleton’s biography on myself published a few months ago, I was raised by a single mother.

My mother Maryanne was an invalid pensioner who suffered from chronic rheumatoid arthritis which prevented her from working.

She took my father’s name and I believed until I was a teenager that she had been widowed prior to my birth.

Such was the stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock five decades ago that I held this view until my mother explained the circumstances when I was a teenager.

I subsequently met my father for the first time in December, 2009, just five years before he passed away.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for my late mother for raising me on her own.

In 2016, we can do much better than political candidates like Mr Archibald promoting stereotypes and denigrating single mums, and for that matter, single fathers.

Sole parents often do it tough. They deserve better.

As for their children, I have served as Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the House of Representatives and a senior minister.

One of the things that Australians are proud of in our nation is that no matter how humble people’s origins, they have access to opportunity.

For much of his upbringing, Malcolm Turnbull was raised by his single father.

The Prime Minister is rightly proud of his Dad.

In 2017, there is no shortage of issues over which politicians can engage and disagree.

But if we can’t even agree to defend the dignity of our fellow Australians, we are in a sad state indeed.

This piece was first published in Mamamia  on Thursday, 2 February 2017: http://bit.ly/2kv6OrV

Feb 2, 2017

Coalition caught misleading the nation about infrastructure investment – Opinion – Online Opinion

It is an article of faith for propagandists that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

But the great risk in this approach is that eventually, the actual truth catches up with you.

The truth has finally caught up with Malcolm Turnbull over the amount of money he is investing in railway lines, roads and other infrastructure in Australia.

Infrastructure investment is a critical role for governments because it increases our capacity to deliver economic growth.

The industries of the future won’t thrive unless they have the means to get their products to market – efficient railways, roads and ports.

While infrastructure might not be the sexiest area of government activity, it’s about jobs.

That makes it important to us all.

Ever since the 2014 Budget, the Coalition has claimed it is delivering a $50 billion infrastructure investment program.

But it isn’t.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has revealed the current investment program is worth $34 billion over five years, with another $8 billion proposed to be invested “onwards” into the unspecified future.

The department released this information recently as part of the Senate Budget Estimates Committee process.

At a hearing last year, the Secretary of the Department, Mike Mrdak, was asked about the size of the program by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie.

Mr Mrdak said he did not know off the top of his head but would happily provide information about “the whole program” on notice.

His written answer, tabled recently, is unequivocal. The whole program is worth $34 billion over its first five years. Another $8 billion is allocated to “onwards – meaning an unspecified time in the future.

Mr Mrdak’s provision of this critical information highlights the importance of Senate Budgets Estimate Committee hearings in providing genuine scrutiny of Government budgets.

But it also stands as an indictment of the Turnbull Government’s preparedness to misrepresent its commitment to infrastructure investment.

There never has been a $50 billion infrastructure program.

It was invented.

Yet the Parliamentary Hansard is full of references to a $50 billion program, including in the Prime Minister’s annual infrastructure statement to Parliament on November 24.

Mr Turnbull misled Parliament.

Numerous ministers have also used the $50 billion figure repeatedly, apparently having succumbed to the biggest risk for propagandists – believing their own misleading statements.

And prior to this year’s Federal election, Mr Turnbull spent $18 million on a television and newspaper advertising campaign to support his misleading claims.

In a decision that can only be described as Orwellian, the Government funded that propaganda campaign using money that had been earmarked for actual investment in infrastructure.

This deception has to stop.

The Government must start actually investing in our national capacity.

It is widely acknowledged that the decline of the investment stage of the mining boom means Australia needs to generate jobs in other sectors.

Infrastructure investment is a critical part of this economic adjustment.

Investing in the right projects now will support economic growth and jobs in the short term, while lifting national capacity and productivity in the long term.

There is little point pursuing a policy program to create new industries through innovation if you don’t also ensure that our infrastructure can meet the requirements of new and existing industries.

That is why now is the right time to increase infrastructure investment in the national economic interest.

But the Government has reduced investment and is pretending otherwise.

It has also been so incompetent that it has been unable to even deliver the reduced investment in line with its commitments.

In 2014, when the $50 billion investment figure was first invented, the Government said it would invest $8 billion on infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year.

But the Treasury’s Final Budget Outcomes document for 2015-16 shows the Government invested only $5.5 billion which included a $490 million payment to the Western Australian Government for GST compensation.

So the actual underspend was nearly $3 billion, or more than 35 per cent.

The truth eventually catches up.

And it keeps catching up.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, infrastructure work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Abbott-Turnbull governments than in any of the 21 quarters under the Rudd -Gillard governments after the first Labor Budget in 2008.

It is time for Malcolm Turnbull to get out of the propaganda business and start investing in the railways, roads and other infrastructure requires to underpin sustainable economic growth.

 

This Opinion Piece was first published BY Online Opinion on Thursday, 2 February, 2017

http://bit.ly/2kUqd2z

Jan 16, 2017

City’s sport tourism helps drive economic growth – Opinion – Herald Sun

At this time of year, it is hard to dispute Melbourne’s claim to be the sporting capital of Australia.

During summer, events such as the Boxing Day Test and the Australian Open capture the attentions of millions of Australians, as well as of sport fans across the globe.

While sport provides great entertainment, it’s also important to acknowledge Melbourne’s success in linking sport to tourism, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

Other Australian cities would do well to emulate its efforts.

Roy Morgan Research shows 12.8 per cent of people who visit Melbourne take in a sporting event — twice as many as those who visit Sydney and nearly three times more than visitors to Brisbane. Indeed, about 15 per cent of visitors interviewed in one survey said their only reason for coming to Melbourne was to attend a sporting event.

All those visitors also check out the city’s other offerings, creating jobs in restaurants, bars and shops.

For example, during the Australian Open — beginning today — hundreds of the world’s top players and their support teams are in town, along with more than 650 journalists and broadcasters. Up to 700,000 people will attend the event, many from out of town.

And that’s just the tennis. When you add the AFL, the Boxing Day Test, the Spring Racing Carnival, the Formula One Grand Prix and Phillip Island’s Motorcycle Grand Prix, you start to get an idea of the importance of sport to the Victorian economy.

Melbourne stands as the perfect example of a city that knows what it is good at and has turned that strength into a huge creator of jobs.

Much credit is due to clever marketing by tourism authorities and state governments of all political colours, who realised long ago that their city’s love of sport should be turned into an industry.

But I give most credit to the people of Melbourne, who don’t just watch sport in lounge rooms or pubs, but flock to sporting events in huge numbers.

The weight of spectator numbers creates great atmosphere, which in turn attracts more spectators.

That is why millions of Australian sport fans, wherever they hail from, tell each other in pubs and coffee shops that whatever they do, one day they will attend a Melbourne Cup or an AFL Grand Final.

Melbourne’s stunning success in sports-related tourism provides a great example for the rest of Australia at a time at a time when our economy is in transition. As the economy continues to move out of the construction phase of the mining boom, we need to lift job creation in other industries to maintain our quality of life.

Tourism holds huge potential for jobs growth, as long as we think strategically.

Not all communities have a tennis major, a Great Barrier Reef, a Sydney Harbour, or some other stunning natural attraction to draw visitors.

But it’s possible to get around that if you think outside the square.

The NSW city of Parkes, for example, has created an annual tourism boom with its Elvis Festival every January, which attracts more than 20,000 visitors. The innovation is replicated by the extraordinary silo art trail which will encourage year-round tourism through Victoria’s wheatbelt.

Tourism strategies can also be crafted around music and arts festivals.

Wine-growing regions have taken to doubling as venues for international music acts.

In 2017, governments at all levels must work hard with communities to identify and unlock these opportunities, not just in the cities but also across rural and regional Australia.

Australia is already good at tourism. But we can be even better.

Melbourne provides the perfect template.

This piece was first published in the Herald Sun on Monday, 16 January 2017: http://bit.ly/2iXYzjS 

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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