Hansard – Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Amendment (Polar Code) Bill 2017 – 2nd Reading Speech
1990 song of the same name. In this song, my former ministerial colleague Peter Garrett sings, ‘There must be one place left in the world where the water’s real and clean.’ Antarctica is indeed the last great wilderness, and we need to keep that way. While mankind has a footprint in the ice continent and while climate change looms as a serious threat, decades of international cooperation have protected the ice continent from much of the environmental degradation that we see in other parts of the world. While that is partly to do with isolation and extreme weather conditions, it is nonetheless a wonderful thing.
The legislation before us today is the latest step in that process of international cooperation to protect not just Antarctica but also the northern Arctic region. It amends the existing Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 to incorporate Australia’s obligations under the new international code for ships operating in polar waters, which is also known as the Polar Code. The Polar Code was developed by the International Maritime Organization, which is the United Nations agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution. It came into operation on 1 January this year. The code is not perfect—indeed, moves are already afoot to strengthen it further—but the opposition will support this bill because it is an important step forward. Protection of the environment is a responsibility that we all share. The Polar Code sets out minimum mandatory requirements for the design, construction, operation and manning of vessels that operate in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Its creation amended the safety related provisions in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the environmental protections in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
Under the changes in this bill, all large vessels operating in polar waters will need to hold a Polar Ship Certificate. To be certified, a vessel will need to undergo a survey to check it meets the requirements of the code. Certification will be conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and will cover a vessel’s structure, fittings, machinery, electronics, communications and navigation equipment as well as its fire safety and lifesaving capacity. The code also toughens rules on the discharge in polar waters of oil, noxious liquid substances, sewage and garbage. In particular, it provides for fines of up to $360,000 for the discharge of sewage within three nautical miles of an ice shelf or fast ice. In addition to the bill before us, the government also proposes to amend the marine orders of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to ensure the code is properly implemented.
In practical terms, these changes will affect very few Australian vessels. The Aurora Australis, which is the government’s Antarctic research and resupply ship, will definitely need to comply, as will the vessel that replaces it in 2020. However, it is expected that growing international trade will increase the number of vessels passing through polar areas. For example, it is expected that by 2020 about 15 per cent of China’s trade, worth about $500 billion, will pass through the Arctic. As trade increases around the globe, it is critical that the international community stays ahead of the regulatory game. Just one major accident could have dire consequences for the pristine environment.
As a former transport minister, I have seen firsthand the kind of damage that can be caused by maritime accidents, particularly those involving the release of oil. In 2010, I inspected the site of an accident on the Great Barrier Reef involving the Shen Neng 1, which hit the reef off Rockhampton and cut a swathe through the coral, causing damage and leaving authorities with a significant bill to clean up the resulting oil spill. But that was, of course, in Australian waters. One of the great risks of accidents in polar areas is isolation. Because of that isolation, clean-up operations are much more difficult as well as much more costly. In the event of an accident in these areas, it can take a long time to get clean-up crews in place. That is why we need tougher standards for polar areas. We need to do everything possible to reduce the likelihood of accidents.
While there is broad support for the new code internationally, there is also an acceptance that more needs to be done to protect our polar regions. Indeed, a select committee of the British parliament has called for another wave of reform to toughen even the measures we are putting in place today. The committee’s 2015 report points out that black carbon, heavy fuel oils and discharged ballast water all pose threats to the Arctic environment and that these issues need to be addressed as the code evolves. Likewise, John Kaltenstein, marine policy analyst with Friends of the Earth, warns:
The Polar Code doesn’t do nearly enough to tackle substantial risks posed by shipping: use of noxious heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, vessels operating with inadequate ice-strengthening and structural stability, and disturbances of wildlife, to name a few.
Some of the issues that the next wave of reform should examine include further toughening of the minimum structural requirement for ships and the fact that the code applies only to ships with a gross tonnage of more than 500 tonnes, meaning it excludes fishing boats. As well, while the code covers management of ballast water and antifouling paint, complying with these provisions is voluntary. It also allows for food to be thrown overboard as little as 12 nautical miles from the ice, which, for example, is not allowed to happen—not surprisingly—in the Mediterranean Sea.
These are the types of issues that are already on our forward agenda, and I say to the current government that, whilst it is in government—for the next short while—we on this side of the House are prepared to cooperate on any of these matters. The New Zealand government has produced a proposal for phase 2 of the code. This is a great place to start the next wave of reform, and I congratulate the New Zealand government, now led by Bill English, on its initiative and on showing leadership in this area—as New Zealand has on many maritime issues.
Australia has an excellent record when it comes to protecting the Antarctic. It is something that we should be proud of. We were one of the founding signatories to the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, which placed restrictions on activities in the southern continent other than scientific research. More recently, the Hawke Labor government played a leading role in the development of the 1991 Madrid protocol, which imposed a 50-year ban on mining, prospecting and exploration in Antarctica. That initiative showed extraordinary vision by the Hawke Labor government at a time when this was not front and centre of the national political debate. It is a great example of the responsibility that we, as policymakers, have to look to not just immediate concerns but our responsibility to look after the aspirations of future generations and to ensure that the planet that future generations inherit is in better condition than the one that we inherited. It is possible for that to happen, but it will not happen just by accident. It requires vision and it requires political determination and, when it came to Antarctica, the Hawke Labor government certainly showed that. So we come to this issue with strong credentials and a demonstrated willingness to take a reformist role. That is as it should be. This parliament has a responsibility to future generations to continue to play a central role in the protection of Antarctica, and I commend this bill to the House.
Hansard – Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2016-2017, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2016-2017 – 2nd Reading Speech
The 2016-17 budget was an opportunity for the Prime Minister and his Treasurer to put their personal stamp on the administration of this nation. After the chaos, conflict and disappointment of the Abbott Prime Ministership, banished by his own party members, here was a chance to turn the page. In my own area of infrastructure it was a chance for the coalition to bridge the huge gap between its soaring rhetoric on infrastructure and the everyday reality of cuts, delays and nondelivery.
In particular, I think people had a great deal of hope that the prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull would lead to a reversal of the Abbott government’s attitude towards urban policy and public transport. It was hoped that the member for Wentworth, who enjoyed taking selfies on trains and trams, might actually fund them. But of course that has not happened. The budget’s opening bid was a $1 billion cut to infrastructure investment allocated in previous budgets—no new money for public transport or roads and nothing for cities policies. Indeed, there was a cut of $18 million of funding that was intended to build infrastructure in order to fund a television propaganda campaign that falsely claimed ahead of last year’s election campaign that the government was increasing infrastructure investment.
Actually, what we know is that under the first two years of the coalition government, infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that quarterly public-sector investment in infrastructure under this government has been lower in all of their 12 quarters since they gained office than any single quarter under the previous Labor government’s first budget after 2008. Each one of their 12 quarters has been lower than the 21 quarters in which Labor was in office. Let us look at the context of that. Firstly, you had the resources sector moving from the investment phase to the production phase, which means that you had a drop-off in private sector infrastructure investment. Secondly, you have the economic circumstances of record low interest rates and a Reserve Bank that, because of those low interest rates, has identified a risk in that those low interest rates have led to increased speculation in the housing market. The Reserve Bank of Australia, no less—both the current governor, Philip Lowe, and his predecessor, Glenn Stevens—as well as, of course, former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and others, have all called for increases in infrastructure investment, and yet the government has stubbornly ignored this advice. We were promised cranes in the sky and bulldozers on the ground by the Abbott government, which we have not seen. We have not seen bulldozers, just clouds of bulldust in terms of the rhetoric of the Abbott government and now the Turnbull government. The only hole that this government has dug has been the one in which they buried the prime ministership of the member for Warringah.
Indeed, we hear, endlessly, this government proclaim that it has a $50 billion infrastructure program. But, of course, that is not true. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development noted at Senate estimates that the program is worth $34 billion over the first five years and then $8 billion at some unspecified time in the future. It is not just that; it is that they are not actually even spending the money that has been allocated—last year, $1 billion less than the funding that was actually in the previous government—and they have underspent, which means a slowdown in the rollout of projects like the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. What we have seen from this government is cuts to projects, delays to projects and deferrals of projects. Cuts to all public transport projects that were ready to go, like the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail project. Delays to the commencement of projects, like Adelaide’s upgrade of the South Road and the M80 project in Melbourne. Quite often what we have seen is an extraordinary propensity to rename projects and then pretend that they are new, whether it be the F3 to M2 in Sydney, renamed as NorthConnex, or the Swan Valley Bypass, renamed as NorthLink, a new name does not make it a new project. We have seen a government running around the country not investing in the infrastructure that is needed.
This is the sort of appropriation where you should have seen investment in projects that are ready to go that would boost productivity. One example is the Port Botany rail link. Port Botany has had an upgrade through the Southern Sydney Freight Line, but it stops at Mascot. The bit between Mascot and Port Botany has to be completed. At the moment, you can have only one train in and one train out. If a train is going out from Port Botany, then the train bringing in freight to the port has to wait until that train has gone through the system—an absurdity in 2017. When we were in office, the more than $1 billion we invested in the Southern Sydney Freight Line was aimed at upgrading the capacity of the port and upgrading the rail network. The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, which will begin actual construction in the next fortnight, is a vital project to get trucks off Sydney’s roads and to increase the productive capacity of Sydney, New South Wales and the nation. And yet this government has failed to complete that project—an absolute no-brainer. The Cross River Rail project in Brisbane was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, funded by federal Labor in 2013 and cancelled by the incoming coalition government, and four years later the government still says, ‘We need more information,’ even though it went through a very rigorous process of Infrastructure Australia’s assessment.
You would think that, if there is a project the National Party could support, it is inland rail. If only we had a sleeper laid every time they mentioned inland rail, the project would be up and running now. Warren Truss, the former transport minister, said on 28 August 2013 that construction would start ‘within three years’. It is now into the fourth year and still we have not seen any construction. Indeed, the new minister, Darren Chester, Mr Truss’s replacement, said to the Australian Logistics Council on 8 March 2017:
… my challenge in this term of government is to build momentum on this project and make its development inevitable.
So they have gone from, ‘Construction is going to commence in 2016,’ to saying in 2017 that they just want it to be inevitable down the track. This is a government that simply cannot do it properly.
It is not just rail. Look at their dud toll roads. We had the East West Link delivering 45c return for every dollar invested. An advance payment of $1½ billion was made and was criticised by the Australian National Audit Office. The government committed exactly the same mistake and received exactly the same criticism from the Australian National Audit Office over the WestConnex project, where, again, advance payments were made. Milestones were changed to suit payments after the milestone had already been reached. The project was supposed to reach a milestone in order to receive a payment. When it did not reach that, the New South Wales government said, ‘We’ll just change what the milestone is to something that has already been achieved and, therefore, justify the payment being made.’ The proposal for the Sydney Secondary College at Leichhardt, in my electorate, to be turned into a construction dive site still remains. The school’s one oval, which serves 1,000 students at Leichhardt and is right next to the tram sheds, is to be turned into a major construction site. This is an absurd proposal which would damage the educational capacity of that school. The government would never think about doing it at one of the wealthier private schools in my electorate, but Leichhardt high school is fair game. There has been no consultation with parents or the school community. Indeed, a letter delivered to the suburbs of Leichhardt and Lilyfield was how residents first found out about it—and, indeed, how I, as the federal member, was first informed about that. I have had productive meetings with the minister, Stuart Ayres, about making sure that that proposal goes off the table. But at this stage it is still there, which is similar to the lack of proper consultation and the concern that parents have had at St Peters Public School, at Haberfield Public School, and at a range of schools, institutions and community groups around the inner west.
But, in terms of funding, the most extraordinary thing is that the letter to the suburbs of Leichhardt and Lilyfield indicated that the government would consult about the final route of the project. That might not seem unusual, except for the fact that they have started building the tunnel. They have literally started building a tunnel without knowing where it is coming up and without knowing what the route of the tunnel will be. You could not make this up. This is a $16.7 billion project that has blown out—the original costing was $10 billion—by $6.7 billion, and they do not know where it is going.
Then we have in Perth the Perth Freight Link, a project rejected by the people of Western Australia just a couple of weeks ago. It was a project that was supposed to take freight to the port, except that it did not go to the port; it stopped three kilometres short of the port. The route goes through the Beeliar Wetlands. It is a project that simply does not stack up and one where the government’s response has been to threaten the $1.2 billion of funding for the people of Western Australia to have proper infrastructure in terms of roads and, of course, the vital Metronet project to expand public transport.
When it comes to cities, in spite of the fact that there was a change of prime ministership and allegedly a change of policy, we have no replacement for the Major Cities Unit, no return to the producing of State of Australian cities reports, a City Deals process that is just matching commitments to previous commitments made by Labor to build the new stadium in Townsville and in Tasmania around the University of Tasmania, and, in Western Sydney, a vague commitment of a small amount of money without any proper engagement with the local community.
Could I say in conclusion that this record stands in stark contrast to when we were in office, when we doubled the roads budget, we increased the rail budget by more than 10 times, we built or rebuilt 7,500 kilometres of roads and 4,000 kilometres of railways, we delivered the nation’s first aviation white paper, we created Infrastructure Australia.
Hansard – Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 – Second Reading
I rise to oppose the omnibus saving bill and to support the amendment moved by the member for Jagajaga. When the history of the Abbott and Turnbull governments is written, their record will be one of unceasing attacks on those Australians who have the lowest incomes. Whenever this government feels that it is losing control of the agenda, it makes a show of targeting people on welfare. It operates on the motto, ‘When in trouble, attacked the poor’. Consider the Centrelink debacle, the refusal to stand up for penalty rates, the pension changes that took place in January and the mothership of cruelty under this government—the 2014 budget. The bill before us is the latest example. It is an attempt to sneak through many of the unfair changes from the 2014 budget, changes that were not only rejected by Australians overwhelmingly but changes that cost Tony Abbott the prime ministership.
The impact of the cuts and punitive measures in this bill would be felt right across the country, including in my electorate of Grayndler. Young people, new parents, low- and middle-income families, pensioners and elderly migrants—these are the people who will pay the price for the government’s economic policies. Those opposite know that there is a human cost to these cuts, but it is a cost they wilfully ignore. They would rather give big businesses a $50 billion tax cut than help single mothers keep food on the table. They would rather withhold financial support for unemployed young people than crack down on big corporate tax evaders. And if anyone has the courage to complain, as has happened to people in my electorate of Grayndler, then government vilifies them and attacks them. No wonder this government is in such trouble. No wonder the member for Warringah is stalking the Prime Minister.
Labor will never turn our backs on vulnerable people. For us, it is a fundamental principle that it is the role of government to maintain a fair social safety net. You judge a society not by how it looks after its billionaires, but by how it looks after its battlers. We also believe as an article of faith that the government owes basic respect to all of our citizens, wherever they live, however they vote and whatever their bank balance.
This bill targets families. It contains cuts to family tax benefits—cuts that will leave a typical family on $60,000 around $750 a year worse off. One and a half million families will be worse off through the loss off their end-of-year supplements. That is $726 a year per child each year for Family Tax Benefits Part A and $354 per family each for Family Tax Benefit Part B. On top of that, single-parent families will lose their Family Tax Benefit Part B entirely when their youngest child turns 16. A single-parent family on $60,000 with a 17-year-old child in high school will be around $3,300 a year worse off. Just think about that: a family on $60,000 a year being $3,300 worse off. Overall the cuts in this measure would affect at least 4000 families in my electorate of Grayndler.
This bill targets parents. It has in it cuts to paid parental leave. Some 70,000 new mums with a median income of $62,000 would be $5,600 worse off on average. As an example, a retail worker who gets eight weeks’ paid leave from her employer will only have access to 12 weeks from the government instead of 18 weeks. This new mother would have 20 weeks of paid leave at home instead of 26 weeks, a loss of some $4,030 in support.
This bill targets pensioners, scrapping the energy supplement—a billion-dollar cut to pensioners, people with disability, carers and Newstart recipients. Scrapping the energy supplement to new pensioners will be a cut of $14.10 per fortnight to single pensioners, or some $365 a year. Pensioner couples will be $21.20 a fortnight worse off, or around $550 a year worse off. This bill also targets young people, with a five-week wait for Newstart, forcing young people under 25 to live off absolutely nothing for five weeks before they can access income support. How are these people supposed to afford food? How are they supposed to afford shelter? How are they supposed to survive during that period? The government does not have an answer to that. These are draconian measures put up by a government that simply does not understand that not everyone has a rich mum and dad to look after them. A lot of people in those circumstances are out there surviving by themselves and to cut them off from all income is just extraordinary.
There are cuts to young people between the ages of 22 and 24 by pushing them onto a lower youth allowance—a cut of around $48 a week, or almost 2½ thousand dollars a year. How are they supposed to travel to search for work or a job interview with no income? Those opposite have no answers. If the government were serious about the welfare of young unemployed people, it would invest in them—invest in their education and invest in their training to make them job-ready. It would embrace its responsibility to act in a positive manner to help people find their way into work so they can become productive members of the community. This would be good not just for the individuals but for the economy because the earlier you intervene to provide that support the sooner people will be earning income, contributing tax and boosting the national economy, but, instead, the government has a punitive approach, a narrow-minded approach, a short-sighted approach and an ineffective approach. Those opposite say that people can just survive by getting money off their parents. They just do not get it. This is the nation of the fair go and we must simply not allow the accidental circumstances of a young person’s birth to prevent them from achieving their potential.
The bill also targets migrant pensioners. It cuts the pensions of around 190,000 migrant pensioners by limiting the amount of time they can spend overseas and still get their full pension, from 26 weeks to six weeks. Across my electorate in places like Marrickville, where I live, there are a lot of Greeks who came here post the Second World War, have worked their whole life and go back to see relatives. In Leichhardt and Haberfield, you have the Italian community. In Petersham you have the Portuguese community. In Ashfield is the Chinese community. In all of those areas there are substantial numbers of pensioners from migrant backgrounds. They are proud Australian citizens, but they still honour the heritage of their birth. They help care for loved ones, visit relatives and maintain cultural ties.
The government’s lack of care for low-income earners is made worse by its disturbing response to criticism. Earlier this year, I did a press conference in my electorate. I stood up with two people who were impacted by the government’s Centrelink debacle, where they sent out robo-letters to people threatening them with action unless they paid money back. In many cases it was just wrong. There were people like Tony Barbar in my electorate who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He went on sick leave from his employment while he was receiving chemotherapy. He survived, and in January 2011 he went back to work. He is an honest young man in his twenties who contracted cancer and dealt with it, and as soon as he could he went back to work because that is the ethic in his family. In the lead-up to Christmas he received a debt letter from Centrelink informing him that he owed over 4½ thousand dollars. After these issues were raised publicly, the truth is that the government reduced his debt to just $400 from the 4½ thousand dollars.
Another constituent of mine is Curtis Dickson from Leichhardt. He received Austudy while he was at university from 2007 to 2012. In the lead-up to Christmas, Curtis received notice that Centrelink believed he had been incorrectly reporting his earnings during the period and he needed to repay $750. That is simply not true. Now his debt has been reduced to zero. He had no debt whatsoever, and yet the response of the government was for the staff of Minister Christian Porter to go up to the gallery here and brief out wrongly that Curtis had voluntarily contacted Centrelink and that he did not receive a debt letter or a notice. They just lied about it. They lied about his personal details. They broke common decency, if not the law—and perhaps the law—by releasing those details. They released a photo to The Australian newspaper, an old Facebook photo, of him next to a Labor candidate in a state election, thereby suggesting somehow that he was unworthy because, at one stage, he may have handed out material, apparently, for a Labor candidate in a state election. They attacked his character in the most vicious way. They bullied and victimised people because they had the courage to stand up over the injustice that this government was seeking to repair.
The fact is that the opposition does believe there is a need for budget repair. Under this government the debt, in terms of the budget deficit, has tripled. Net debt has climbed substantially. That is why the opposition has put forward alternative savings measures: changes to the capital gains tax discount and negative gearing, and a genuine crackdown on tax evasion. We are prepared to be constructive—we have shown that with previous legislation. What we are not prepared to do is to simply sit back and be silent while these changes that target vulnerable people go through. What we are not prepared to do is to walk away from the principle that a nation is only as good as the way in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
We must do better. We can do better than this mean-spirited legislation which shows that they did not get the lessons of 2014. That is why they are being rejected by the Australian people. The penalty rates changes are only the latest in the attack on people that we see represented by this legislation. The bill is flawed and should be rejected.
When the current government announced the Perth Freight Link project in their 2014 budget, I was quite surprised. It was a project that no-one had ever heard of and for which there had been no submissions whatsoever. What we found out, though, was that it was essentially the Roe 8—a project that had been rejected—with an extension on the end. It was one, though, that did not actually go to the port. A freight link project that does not carry the freight to the port!
Yesterday, it was asked in Senate estimates, and the department said: ‘Just to clarify, Senator, I assume you mean by stage 3 an upgrade between the end of current project and into Fremantle Port.’ ‘Yes, where the freight is going.’ This is what Roland Pittar from the department said: ‘We have not seen a draft project proposal report for that.’
Here we have, up until the 11 March election when there will be the chance to make a decision on it, a project that does not go to the port, that will not achieve any outcomes, and where this government is saying $1.2 billion of funding will be withheld from WA—funding that should be used for the Outer Harbour, for METRONET, for the North Lake Bridge, for the Wanneroo Road upgrade, for Scarborough Beach Road and for the Denny Avenue grade separation project.
The European Union is Australia’s second-largest trading partner, and the largest source of foreign investment. All up, the total stock of European investment in Australia is more than $600 billion. Today, I want to take the opportunity in speaking to this motion to talk particularly about the impact on infrastructure and aviation.
The EU is Australia’s largest aviation market. Each year, more than 1.3 million Europeans visit Australia and more than a million Australians travel to Europe. When I was the minister, we signed the EU-Australia horizontal agreement on 29 April 2008. That entered into force in July 2009. This agreement replaced 16 outdated bilateral air services agreements and has allowed Australian and European airlines to offer more flights and a wider range of services at more competitive prices.
We need to continue, though, to work for a comprehensive Australia-EU air services agreement. That has been agreed to in the past, when Minister Tajani was the minister responsible for transport in the European union. He was very supportive of such an agreement. However, the bureaucracy in Brussels seemed to intervene at each stage and that put Australia at a disadvantage. We should continue to push for such a comprehensive agreement. Indeed, we had substantial benefit, I think, from our engagement with the European Union and infrastructure companies.
In November 2012 I hosted a delegation of Italian infrastructure and transport companies. That was led by the Italian Secretary of State, Mr Staffan de Mistura, and it was a very large delegation. They visited parliament here. Companies included Ansa do STES, Thella and Meramec. What we saw after meetings I held in Italy, France and Spain was an increased presence of these European infrastructure companies here in Australia. In some cases that is beneficial simply because it brings competition. In other cases, they bring specific required skills—for example, three is the South Road Super way project in Adelaide, which is an elevated roadway. The Italians, particularly, due to their topography, have an expertise in this. The company Rizzio de Escher was also part of the consortium that built this project. That was, at the time, the biggest project in the state’s history and opened in 2013.
Similarly, projects like Legacy Way in Brisbane benefitted from the fact that it was a consortia. BMD Construction, a local Queensland based company working in partnership with Thella from Italy and Action from Spain, built that $1.5 billion project, which opened in 2014. The Italian industrial group Saline, part of the consortia that are building the elevated sky train section of Sydney’s North West Rail Link, and German companies Hochstein and Ballinger Berger have a strong presence here in engineering and construction. And the French company Veolia has established itself, particularly in the water waste and transport sectors.
All of this bring skills and presence here in Australia but, importantly, for our overall economic future I have argued with the European companies that they can use Australia as a base into the Asia-Pacific region, with the certainty that is provided with our legal system, with the lifestyle that comes from senior executives basing themselves here in Australia. It is of great mutual benefit, this relationship between Australia and the European Union, and it should be strengthened into the future.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:18): We just saw, writ large in question time, the government’s incompetence when it comes to infrastructure. Here we have a major investment in infrastructure in Perth, just weeks before the state election is due to be held, on 11 March, and they do not know two important facts. One is that they do not know that the Perth Freight Link project does not even go to the port. It stops three kilometres short. This is a $1.2 billion investment in freight transport infrastructure to a port, but it does not get there; it stops three kilometres short and vehicles will have to go through the suburbs of Fremantle in order to get the freight to the port. But it is worse than that because it is a road near a port that is at full capacity. We know that the port will be at full capacity in 2022, which is why the outer harbour is so important. The new port is what is critical if we are going to deal with exports and imports in the west. That is why during the election campaign we committed to fund the planning for that port project. That is what Mark McGowan is doing—planning for infrastructure for the future.
Of course, this is nothing new for the people of Western Australia. When we were in government, we engaged in the largest ever road project in Western Australia, the Gateway WA project. It was promised, funded and built on our watch, and yet those opposite came along at the end to the ribbon cutting, having opposed the nation-building program and the economic stimulus, and tried to suggest that they had something to do with it. It is not just that. When you land at Perth and leave the airport, the first road you go on is the Great Eastern Highway. It was widened and upgraded by Labor. If rather than east you go west, you will hit the work that is taking place on the Swan Valley Bypass, which is now called NorthLink under this government. Giving a road a new name does not make it a new road. It is the Swan Valley Bypass and it was funded by the former Labor government.
We understand that to deal with urban congestion you do not just need roads; you need rail lines as well. We invested in the Perth City Link project. It was promised, funded, built and opened under federal Labor. Those opposite talk about value capture. This project is a great example of value capture in action. You use the area where the road has been built to build the railway underneath and then you develop on top, to reunite the Perth CBD with the Northbridge entertainment precinct. It is a great example of Labor vision, Labor being engaged in urban policy and Labor being engaged in making our cities more productive, more sustainable and more livable.
We are not just engaged in cities, of course. We did the Great Northern Highway, the North West Coastal Highway, the work around Port Hedland, the work in Kalgoorlie, the Esperance port access road and the work around Bunbury—all delivered as part of the $6.9 billion that we put into Western Australia. We took investment from the Howard government’s $92 per Western Australian to $261 per Western Australian—we tripled the infrastructure investment, because we understood that transport infrastructure was critical.
But of course we also did the National Broadband Network. We also did the support for hospitals. We also did the support for every school in Western Australia, because we understood that that was important.
At the last election there was a battle that will be played out on 11 March, which is: do you put money into a road to a port that is at full capacity, a road that does not even get to the port, or do you build rail infrastructure that will truly build on the legacy of Labor? That is the legacy that built the Mandurah rail link and the legacy that built the link up to the north, up towards Joondalup. Do you engage in that infrastructure investment? That is what is critical. WA Labor have made it clear that their commitment is to building the Morley-Ellenbrook line, building the Yanchep line, building the Byford line, commencing the circle line linking the suburbs, starting to fix level crossings and, of course, completing the Forrestfield to airport line. That is an example: $500 million was ripped out of the budget in 2014; two years later, in order to compensate for the GST, some funding is put back, and they pretend it is new!
The fact is that what we have seen under this government in Western Australia is symptomatic of their approach everywhere. Yesterday, there was a report into the funding of WestConnex in Sydney that followed the funding of the East West Link in Melbourne. In all these cases, commitments had been made; money was taken away from public transport projects like the Melbourne metro and Cross River Rail in Brisbane, and taken away from projects like the M80 in Melbourne that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia, and forwarded as advanced payments for projects that had no business case and that were not ready to proceed. And we wonder why it is having a negative impact in terms of the economy!
What we see from the Australian Bureau of Statistics are remarkable figures. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures in this graph, where the red is Labor and the blue is the coalition, show that, for every single one of the 12 quarters that the coalition has been in office, public sector infrastructure investment has been less than in any single one of the 21 quarters where Labor was in government, from the time of our first budget in the June 2008 quarter right through to September 2013. Indeed, in their first two years in office, what we saw was a drop in infrastructure investment of some 20 per cent. And they stand up and speak about the $50 billion fantasy that they have; they stood up at the 2014 budget and said: ‘Going forward, we have a $50 billion plan.’ There is just one problem there, which is that budget papers get produced and show how much investment is actually occurring. And what we know is that up to 2019-20 the investment is $34 billion, and beyond that it is $8 billion at some unforeseen time, booked into the future. What we know is that there have actually been cuts each and every year to projects like the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. When you compare what they themselves said they would spend with what actual spend is, last financial year the underspend was something like $1.2 billion.
This comes at a time when the resources sector is moving from the investment phase to the production phase. The Reserve Bank governor, last Thursday night, warned again on, and called for, investment in infrastructure. We have record low interest rates. We have a demand that is there, with a massive need for infrastructure, particularly in dealing with the challenges of urban congestion, and in dealing with the challenges of freight—projects like finishing off the freight line from Mascot to Port Botany; that is an absolute no-brainer, but they will not even proceed with that.
What we see from this government is all politics and no substance. They have abandoned the processes of Infrastructure Australia, they have cut funding for Infrastructure Australia, and they have not listened to what Infrastructure Australia has had to say. They have ministers who cannot even agree on who is in charge of what particular issue or project. This failure comes at a time where infrastructure is one of the keys to growth and to future jobs. If it is in the right projects, it boosts productivity and returns to government. That is why this government stands condemned, whether it be in Western Australia or any other state or territory in the nation, for simply failing when it comes to infrastructure.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:27): I rise to speak to the Auditor-General’s report into the WestConnex project and into the Commonwealth financing of that project. The report resulted from an investigation which I requested last year, both as the shadow transport minister and as a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. This report that was tabled in the parliament yesterday represents the Auditor-General revealing an extraordinarily cavalier approach to the handling of literally billions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds. The objective of the audit was to determine whether the government had taken appropriate steps:
…to protect the Australian Government’s interests and obtain value for money in respect to the $3.5 billion in funding committed for the WestConnex project.
On both accounts, the Auditor-General has delivered a scathing verdict.
Desperate to appear to be doing something on infrastructure when they came to office, the Commonwealth government cut funds that had been allocated to projects that had been approved through Infrastructure Australia—such as the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, the Melbourne Metro project in Melbourne, the M80 project and the Outer Ring Road in Melbourne—and cut $500 million which was for public transport projects in Perth and was then allocated to toll roads that simply had not been through appropriate processes. They did not have a business case, they had not been through Infrastructure Australia and they were not ready to receive funding.
The Commonwealth coalition came to office saying that they would require all Commonwealth funded infrastructure projects worth more than $100 million to have undergone a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia. The Auditor-General says this in the report:
The WestConnex project had not proceeded fully through the established processes to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments prior to Australian Government funding being committed.
They went further: they even ignored their own department. The report says:
The May 2014 decision to make the $500 million advance payment led to the project being approved without there being any documented analysis and advice to Ministers that the statutory criteria for giving such approvals had been met.
It also went through the processes of milestone payments. Milestone payments were established when I was the minister to ensure that the objectives for which money was allocated from the Commonwealth were actually being met—that is, you did not just forward an advance payment of money without there actually being construction. This arose because when I became the infrastructure minister it was clear to me that under the Howard government the only key performance indicator that it was ever looked at was, ‘Has the money gone out the door?’—not whether anything had been built—and hence you had a whole range of advance payments being made every June.
What we had here was $500 million forwarded as an advanced payment for WestConnex at the same time as $1.5 billion was forwarded as an advance payment for the East West Link. That was all designed to bring forward expenditure into the 2013-14 financial year in which, of course, the Labor government had handed down the 2013 budget so that the deficit in 2013-14 would appear to be bigger and finances in future years would appear to be better. This was a manipulation based upon politics and nothing more. But it is even worse than that, because in the words of the Auditor-General in the report:
… three milestone payments—
worth $1 billion—
were designed and administered in a way that did not adequately protect the Australian Government’s financial interests. This was because, in order not to delay payments, milestones were agreed to after the respective event had already occurred or amended shortly before the payment was due to be made where New South Wales (NSW) had not met the milestone.
Just think about that. Here you had the federal government and the federal minister working out criteria for payments to be forwarded not in advance saying, ‘If you build this portion of road, we will forward further money to you’, but working out criteria which had already been met. The exact opposite of what milestone payments are due for! It included the fact that the department, to quote the report:
Advice provided prior to the first payment (of $500 million in June 2014) identified that a payment of that magnitude was not yet required.
The report went on further, in terms of incurring unnecessary public debt, to criticise the concessional loan. It makes it very clear in the report:
… Stage 2 could have progressed towards construction as planned without the concessional loan.
It goes on to say:
There are relatively few features built into the loan contracts for the benefit of the Australian Government in its role as subordinated lender.
This has been a farcical situation from the beginning.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 12 : 34 to 12 : 43
Mr ALBANESE: The coalition have somehow attempted to argue that the responsibility for this fiasco is not theirs. Of course, it is. The fact is that page 22 of the report outlines:
The Labor Government also attached the following preconditions to that commitment:
development of a full business case and its submission to and assessment by Infrastructure Australia;
that the design include suitable connections to the Sydney CBD and Port Botany; and
that no tolls be imposed on currently untolled existing roads.
When people in Western Sydney who today are driving on the M4 untolled drive on exactly the same section of road later on once the toll is reintroduced for road they have already paid for I think there will be a great deal of frustration that the government of New South Wales and federally under the coalition have reimposed a toll on a road that has already been paid for. Also, when Infrastructure New South Wales recommended to the New South Wales government that this be a priority, they recommended it on the basis that it deal with freight to and from the port. There was an issue with the M5 reaching capacity, and Infrastructure Australia even looked at a truck-only road from the M5 directly to the port.
At the moment, what you have with this project is perhaps the only road project in global history where tunnelling began—at Strathfield where the M4 ends—without knowing where the tunnel would come up. After literally every single dollar of Commonwealth’s $1.5 billion grant funding had been fully forwarded to the New South Wales government, they were still changing its final destination and, indeed, removing the exit point at Broadway and just maintaining the two exit points at St Peters and at Rozelle. Good infrastructure requires the planning to be done first and then the financing and construction. This report reaffirms that and reaffirms that this government continues to get it wrong.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:33): I rise to support the Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016—even though I note that it is 2017 before we have got around to actually debating this legislation. As I indicated on behalf of the Labor Party during the last debate, it is my view that aviation security must always come before partisan politics. This has always been my commitment. I have pursued it both in government and in opposition. This legislation provides for some simple but necessary changes that will ensure that Australia is up to date with a modern system of transport security. Importantly, it seeks to ensure the right balance between privacy and security, upholding Australia’s commitment to an equal and non-discriminatory screening program.
All Australians expect that the Commonwealth will ensure that ongoing vigilance, particularly in the aviation sector, is awarded the utmost importance. Transport safety in today’s world is dynamic. Governments must respond to threats as they emerge with appropriate legislative changes. This legislation will play an essential role in ensuring that this continues to occur. It will update the process that airports use for the screening of people, vehicles and goods which are already in a security zone at an airport, bringing it in line with international standards. While legislation currently permits screening of people, vehicles and goods when entering a security zone, there is no additional provision for the random screening of these when they are already inside the security zone.
Put simply, this will allow for the scrutiny of a person, a vehicle or a package which has already gone through security screening and is at the gate inside an airport or in the shopping centres that exist around international airports, in particular, but many of our domestic airports as well. It is, I think, a practical suggestion in responding to what might be future threats. The main aim of this legislation is to provide this authority, but I do note that it also reinforces that we do not have in any of our screening procedures racial profiling or profiling of any other sort. We have in place, I think, very good security provisions at airports, and this provides just another layer which, on the advice of experts, the government believes is necessary and therefore the opposition will be supportive of. The use of this authority will be a matter between the airport and the Office of Transport Security, the government body that approves transport security plans for each airport. The government has indicated that these arrangements will initially apply at nine airports, including all of the mainland capitals as well as the Gold Coast and Cairns airports, which are significant tourism destinations and, indeed, significant international arrival and departure points.
Importantly, this legislation sits alongside enhanced security awareness training for employees and contractors who work in security zones. It also authorises greater delegation of powers under aviation and maritime transport security legislation to facilitate quicker responses. While the government has highlighted removal of regulatory constraint as a benefit, Labor believes that transport security is too important to simply be an exercise in extending light-handed regulation. Regulatory settings should always be reviewed, but Labor’s main reason for supporting this legislation was, first and foremost, because it updated security measures so they are consistent with world standards. The legislation also includes an additional sensible option to enhance the central objective of removing threats to aviation security.
Australia has always taken aviation security seriously. We are a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. Recently, the International Civil Aviation Organization, established under the Chicago Convention, has increased standards for screening of persons, goods and vehicles in security controlled zones at airports. Australian legislation should be updated to reflect this higher standard, which is what this bill will achieve.
We have, from time to time, responded to events that have occurred internationally. When I was the minister over the Christmas period of one year, we had what became known as the ‘undie bomber’, which required a very busy January as throughout the world we responded very quickly to put in place changed regulations. We also, as a result of that incident and other perceived threats, introduced here in Australia full body scanners. We undertook a process whereby we examined world’s best practice. We introduced, I believe, the best system—the most thorough in the world. At the time, the shadow minister, Warren Truss, gave full support to that. There were some people who argued that we could not actually bring in full body scanners, that people had a right to refuse. The legislation that was carried before this parliament was tough legislation. Indeed, it has a no-scan, no-fly policy—the toughest of the options that were put up—and that was supported by both sides of parliament. I thank the now government, the then opposition, for the fact that they did not play politics with that. There were attempts by some, on the basis of perceived civil liberties interference, who said that these mechanisms should not be given support. We went to a great deal of trouble, including locating body scanners here at Parliament House so that members of parliament, members of the media and anyone else who was interested could go through and see in real circumstances the way that they would operate. If there had been an issue with those full body scanners, I would have had a health problem because I went through them hundreds and hundreds of times, demonstrating for others that they were essentially emitting fewer waves than people’s mobile phones. Getting across the reality of a response as opposed to the potential for a scare campaign is often at the heart of security issues.
The government has done a very good job, in my view, of providing assurances so that people will not be singled out on the basis of any particular characteristic that they may have. There is a diligence contained in this legislation which is consistent with our non-discriminatory policy when it comes to all of these issues. We know from recent events, including the bombing of a Metrojet flight in Egypt in October 2015 and the attempted bombing of a Daallo Airlines flight in Somalia in February last year, that even a potential threat requires action. Of course, these changes must ensure that people’s rights to equal treatment and privacy continue to be protected.
The explanatory memorandum to this legislation outlines its commitment to both of these in the formal ‘Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights’. On equality and non-discrimination it says:
All people have the right to be treated equally. In keeping with Australia’s egalitarian screening regime applied to aviation passengers, selection of airport and airline workers, visitors and contractors for screening inside the security restricted areas … of airports will be conducted on a purely random basis. Individuals will not be selected according to their race, religion, gender, or any other personal characteristic.
Because that is included in the explanatory memorandum, it effectively becomes part of any consideration by any court as to what the intention of the legislation is and provides that legislative security. On privacy it says:
In cases where a frisk search is necessary the individual may request that procedure to occur in a private room or within a screened area. A frisk search will always be undertaken by someone of the same gender as the person being searched.
Once again, that is an appropriate provision in terms of privacy.
I congratulate the department, through the minister, and the Office of Transport Security and others who have been engaged with the drafting of this legislation. They have ensured that those provisions are made explicitly clear. Inevitably, there are concerns raised about these issues, and it is best to address them up-front. We expect that airports and the government will ensure that appropriate arrangements exist and for those provisions to be applied in practice at all times. Importantly, the statement in the explanatory memorandum enshrines people’s rights whilst also underpinning a robust and effective screening program.
It builds on Labor’s strong track record for aviation and airport security. When in government, we oversaw the strengthening of the security regime applying to air cargo and we committed more than $54 million to install X-ray screening technology at freight depots. We also invested an additional $200 million in the nation’s aviation security. Much of this funding facilitated the introduction of new and improved security technologies at airports, including not just the latest body scanners that I referred to but next generation, multiview X-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid-based explosives. It also provided for increased policing at airports, enhanced security procedures and strengthened international cooperation.
We improved security at regional airports, introducing legislation that requires screening of domestic checked baggage at all regional airports operating RPT services. That piece of legislation did not have unanimous support, but everyone supports it now as it was the right legislation. Some said that it would have an impact on flights to regional areas, and it did not. It did the right thing.
Certainly, what you could not have was what previously occurred. There was best-practice security at the major capital city airports, but if you were flying in from a small, regional centre on a regular passenger transport movement service, nobody checked anything as you went through. Common sense prevailed there. The government of the day prevailed, and now it is particularly important that that security is there.
More than 150 million passengers fly through Australian skies each year, and Labor will always support sensible measures that protect Australian citizens and continue the nation’s reputation for aviation safety. We have an enviable safety record that is second to none. It is a credit to our existing system of regulation and all participants in the system, including airports and airlines. The bottom line is that this requires people on the ground to carry out these sorts of changes. By and large, they do so with goodwill and cooperation and with understanding that our record of aviation safety and security is something that we as a nation should be very proud of. This legislation is consistent with maintaining that record. Labor will be supporting this legislation.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:04): As always with members of the government with private members’ business, this is a self-congratulatory motion, but it is somewhat misplaced. The Northern Australia Beef Roads Program typifies this government when it comes to building infrastructure: an announcement with much fanfare followed by little action on the ground.
The program was announced in June 2015, when Tony Abbott was the Prime Minister. However, not a single actual project was announced until 16 months later, in October 2016, after the election campaign when, essentially, this program was used for election announcements. Then, 15 priority projects were announced with only half the funding—some $56 million—that was originally announced, and, as we stand here today, in 2017, not a single project from this program that was announced in 2015 has begun. It has taken two years, and not a hole has been dug for any project under this program.
This stands at a time when, just last week, the Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe, again reiterated the need for investment in infrastructure. The previous speaker, the member for Durack, spoke about the fantasy of the government’s so-called $50 billion program. But the answers in Senate estimates indicate that that program is, in fact, only $34 billion, with $8 billion in the future at some unspecified time. Indeed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that for every single one of the 12 quarters that the coalition have been in office, public sector infrastructure investment has been less than for every one of the 21 quarters that the former Labor government spent in office, from the time of our first budget in 2008. We did not just make announcements; we actually went ahead and did it.
Our total commitment to Northern Australia over that time was some $5.5 billion. Some $500 per person was spent in Northern Australia on an annual basis. The Bruce Highway upgrade, the Cape York package, the Kennedy Highway upgrade and the Peak Downs Highway upgrade are all in Queensland.
In the Northern Territory, there was the community, beef and mining road package, and the highways package, including the widening of the Victoria, Barkly and Stuart highways. There was the regional roads productivity package; some $90 million in the Northern Territory alone. There was the Tiger Brennan Drive upgrade, the Great Northern Highway upgrade in northern Western Australia, the Dampier Highway duplication, and, of course, the North West Coastal Highway.
So we did not just talk about infrastructure in Northern Australia. We got on with the business of ensuring that it happened. As it is, you can see there has been an underspend on a project like the Bruce Highway, where the government has wound back the spending that it allocated, if you look at the forwards from the 2014 budget.
What we need to do is make sure that we step up infrastructure investment, particularly in the context of the resources sector moving from the investment to the production phase. Of course, the member who represents the area around Gladstone will know full well that the investments we made in roads in his region—in terms of access to the port and other projects at and around Gladstone—were significant after years of neglect under the Howard government. What I want is for the government to match its rhetoric with actual investment on the ground that will lay the groundwork for future economic growth.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:36): This 230-page report is a significant piece of work by the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, and the 13 recommendations contained in it are generally sound. They cover a range of areas, including value capture, high-speed rail, smart infrastructure, joint procurement and city deals. However, the upbeat tone of the report also highlights a gap that is there between what the members of the committee think should happen and what is actually happening under this government.
On value capture, you would think, frankly, that this was something new. That is nonsense. That is how the underground was built in London in the 19th century. That is how road and rail projects have functioned for such a long period of time, and it has become an excuse for the government to not fund projects. The Melbourne metro project and Cross River Rail both have value capture in them—that was a part of the Infrastructure Australia deliberations way back in 2012 when they were included on the priority list. That is why they were funded in the 2013 budget by the former Labor government. Funding was to come from the federal government, the state government and the private sector on the basis of, in the Cross River Rail’s case, the uplift value around Woolloongabba Station in Brisbane, and, in Melbourne metro’s case, the uplift value around the key points there. That would allow for higher densities around those rail stations.
There is nothing new in this at all. Nothing. But what you have is a whole lot of rhetoric from the government at the same time that we are actually seeing cuts to infrastructure investment. One figure above all is very stark in demonstrating that: for each of the 12 quarters that the Abbott and Turnbull governments have been in office—for every single one of them—public sector infrastructure investment, as demonstrated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is less than every single quarter of the 21 between June 2008—that is after the first Labor government budget in May 2008—right through to September 2013. Those are 12 quarters with less investment than any single one of the 21 quarters when Labor was in office. There is a stark contrast between the attitudes of an actual nation-building government and a government that comes up with excuses and, frankly, policy proposals in value capture that have been around for 200 years and pretends that somehow it is something new and a panacea for these issues.
The last speaker, the member for Gilmore, was saying that the federal government should be the government that captures the value and coordinates everything. Well, the truth is that, under our system of Federation, state governments have responsibility for planning—that is the way it works—and local governments exist as entities only under the auspices of state governments. This is perhaps well meaning but not in terms of actual outcomes we are seeing on the ground.
The government again, yesterday in question time, was speaking about the so-called $50 billion infrastructure plan that was announced in the 2014 budget. It is a nonsense! The answers to the Senate committee by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development show that the infrastructure program is worth $34 billion, not $50 billion, between 2014-15 and 2018-19. So there is one year left at the end there—2019-20. Perhaps they might argue that that is where the catch-up is going to occur, except the $8 billion has been allocated onwards—that is, from 2019-20 right through to the never-never. In some cases, it literally is the never-never. Take projects like the Bruce Highway, for example. It was a 10-year plan, so the figures that are included there are for right up until 2024-25.
Since the mining boom has moved from the investment to the production phase and there has been a drop-off in that private sector infrastructure investment associated with the resources sector, this should have been a time when public sector investment was stepping up to fill that gap to create employment and to provide a skilled workforce to keep the economy going. But what we have seen is the opposite. It is not surprising, because what we have seen is public transport projects stopped and new road projects announced in their place. There have not been very many; there have been only four or five road projects. As an example of this, the East West Link has not happened in Melbourne. They took money away from the Melbourne Metro and the M80 Ring Road project in Melbourne to fund the East West Link that never happened. Therefore, the investment has dropped off.
In Brisbane they took money away from the Cross River Rail and have not put it back into anything. In Perth they have the Perth Freight Link project, for which they have allocated over a billion dollars of Commonwealth money, but they have not dug a hole yet. That was announced in the 2014 budget. It is a road that will go through wetlands and destroy them. It is a road that has been rejected time and time again by environmental assessments in Western Australia. It has required special intervention from the government to overturn all those proper processes. It is a road that allegedly is supposed to fix the freight problems in Western Australia, but it will not actually go to the port of Fremantle. It will stop three kilometres short of the port. What is more, that is a port that the government reports all indicate will be at full capacity by 2022. Therefore, planning has to happen now for the outer harbour and for how freight will get to and from the outer harbour.
We have had from this government a series of attempts to capture projects that were already underway and pretend that they had something to do with them, as well as a slowdown in projects on the Pacific Highway and Bruce Highway. In the case of the Swan Valley bypass in Western Australia the name was changed to NorthLink and in Sydney the F3 to M2 connection’s name was changed to NorthConnex. A new name does not make it a new project. They were projects that were already funded in the budget, so what we have seen is simply less.
What we have also seen is proper processes break down: Infrastructure Australia being sidelined, the Major Cities Unit being abolished, the national freight strategy being ignored, the National Ports Strategy being ignored and the priorities that are there for urban public transport being ignored. With Badgerys Creek airport, the government knows, and common sense tells you, to build in rail from day one when the airport opens. The government says, ‘Yes, that is a good idea.’ It is just not funding it and not progressing it.
On high-speed rail, one of the report’s recommendations, recommendation 2, says:
The Committee recommends that state and federal governments consider appropriate coordination arrangements, including if and when a planning authority is required to progress high speed rail.
I will give you a big tip: there is a private member’s bill before the parliament in my name right now to establish a high-speed rail authority, as recommended by the proper processes that were established prior to 2013. They should get on and do that. High-speed rail is a game changer. It is a game changer for regional Australia and a game changer for the national economy. It is something that would really change the dynamics. It should be given support and it should be progressed. It cannot happen short term, but you need to get the planning right to make sure that it is progressed. This government is not doing that, and it should progress the recommendations in this report. (Time expired).