Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Feb 11, 2015

Constituency statements – Infrastructure

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:53): The government admitted that they have been a bad government since their election in 2013 when the Prime Minister made the extraordinary comment, ‘Good government begins today’. It is as if they were so pleased at having graduated from opposition they decided to have a gap year. Yesterday, we saw another example of how this government is failing when the Deputy Prime Minister, in answer to a question in question time, outlined a series of projects that were commenced by the former Labor government and then attempted to take credit for it. That is what happens when you actually breach a promise that was made that there would be cranes in the sky and bulldozers on the capital cities’ streets on new projects—none of which have commenced.

The Deputy Prime Minister went through a series of projects on the Pacific and Bruce highways, none of which are new initiatives of the government. He then went on to speak about Adelaide’s north-south transport corridor; the South Road Superway is part of that and was promised, funded, built and opened due to the former Labor government. The Torrens Road to Torrens River section was funded in the 2013 budget. Preconstruction work began in 2013, and it is proceeding. Sydney’s F3 to M2 project—claimed to be a new project because it has a new name, NorthConnex—was agreed to in a formal agreement, signed by me as minister and by New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay in June 2013.

But perhaps the most absurd is the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor upgrade. Here is a press release from then Premier Barry O’Farrell and me—in 2011, when construction began, after three years of preconstruction work. Mr O’Farrell said: ‘That is why this is a Christmas gift for Sydney.’ It was supposed to be a Christmas gift for 2011; not for 2012 or 2013 or 2014—let alone 2015—but 2011. This is after three years of preconstruction work. This is a vital project, to boost freight and to separate the freight and passenger lines. This is a government that has no new ideas and is being punished for it. (Time expired)

Feb 9, 2015

Private Members’ Business – Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:16): The Great Barrier Reef is not just an environmental asset; it is important to our economy as a tourism asset as well. It is already worth some $5.7 billion to the Australian economy, resulting in the direct employment of some 65,000 people, including many Indigenous Australians. There are 1.6 million visitors per year, and it is a key drawcard for our major markets in China, India and Malaysia. Tourism is the ultimate sustainable industry and has been nominated by Deloitte as a key driver of jobs and prosperity over the next 20 years.

Voters in the Queensland election sent a very clear message up and down the coast to save the Great Barrier Reef. The LNP know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Queensland Labor listened and committed important funding—$100 million for the reef package to improve water quality and $40 million for a tourism plan to lift demand and create jobs. Campbell Newman just had a plan to reannounce infrastructure funding for tourism roads. There was no reef plan for the future.

The member for Leichhardt’s motion is important but it cannot stand alone. Climate change is of course amongst the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef, and we must address this in conjunction with other measures, which has been made very clear. The government’s position is very clear. President Obama spoke in Queensland and said on 15 November last year:

The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened … I want to come back and I want my daughters to be able to come back and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit. And I want that there 50 years from now.

Did the current federal government acknowledge that praise for the pristine Great Barrier Reef? No. They condemned President Obama’s statements as an attack on our national sovereignty—showing how backward they are. This reaction from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the trade minister shows that they simply just do not get it. It does not matter who is in charge of the LNP; only Labor is committed to a strong environmental policy that recognises that our natural environment is not only important for the quality of our life but also a major driver of economic activity.

Of course, the current government have cut all domestic tourism funding. They argue that domestic tourism funding is the business just of state governments. That particularly hurts Queensland. They have of course cancelled Australia’s membership of the United Nations World Tourism Organization—a minimal fee for involvement on the global stage. Once again we saw the isolationism that led those opposite to oppose the ratification of the Kyoto protocol and the engagement in those international forums for so long.

Only Labor governments will protect the reef. We will take real action on climate change, not the absurd response that we have seen from those opposite, who either support the policy that Malcolm Turnbull denigrated so effectively or, as Malcolm Turnbull himself has done, backflip on their own views in order to try and win votes for the ongoing leadership battle that is occurring in those opposite.

As tourism shadow minister, I, with Mark Butler, announced—in November last year that Labor would put a ban on dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area and that we would continue our work investing in the reef. The former federal Labor government invested $200 million in Reef Rescue—cut by those opposite. That, together with Queensland Labor’s commitment, was one of the reasons that the LNP were rejected so resoundingly in the Queensland election and why Australian voters are continuing to reject the Abbott government.

Feb 9, 2015

Condolence Motion – The Hon. Tom Uren, AC

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (14:12): I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in supporting this condolence motion for my friend and comrade Tom Uren. Tom Uren saw deprivation in his early years, and then the worst of humanity. Born into the Depression in 1921, he left school at the age of 13 because his father could not get employment. He was a great sportsman. He represented Manly, unfortunately, in rugby league, but he also fought for the Australian heavyweight boxing championship. He was also a surf lifesaving champion at Freshwater. He had a lot to look forward to; and then, of course, World War II intervened. He put his nation before himself and, like so many other young men and women of that time, he enlisted. He went to Timor and was captured. He served in Timor, in Singapore, on the Burma-Siam railway and in Japan as a prisoner of war of the Japanese. Those people who read Richard Flanagan’s extraordinary book would respond to it as I did: you just wonder how these men came through that process without being bitter about the world and their place in it.

He was an extraordinary man. If he can be characterised by anything it is by his faith in humanity and his fellow man. He came through that process with love and used to speak—unusually for a man—about his love for people. It was genuine, and he received love in spades in return.

He was, in my view, the most significant grassroots campaigner in the history of the Australian Labor Party, given the longevity that the issues, be it the anti-Vietnam war moratoriums, which he and Jim Cairns led, his role on the environment—well ahead of the pack; well ahead of the intelligentsia—he understood a love for our natural and our built environment or whether it be issues of justice for our veterans. He was very proud that his last victory was to convince Prime Minister Gillard to grant justice to the surviving former prisoners of war of the Japanese. That occurred in 2012.

He leaves a tremendous legacy: the greening of Western Sydney, access to sewerage for people in our outer suburban communities, the first significant investment in public transport by a national government, the Australian Heritage Commission, the Register of the National Estate and the saving of the Sydney Harbour foreshores. Wherever you look around this country, particularly in outer suburbs and our regional cities, Tom Uren leaves a legacy of which he and his family can indeed be proud as both a minister in the Whitlam government and a minister in the Hawke government.

When he was nominated for the Companion of the Order of Australia I contacted Tony Abbott, the then Leader of the Opposition, and told him—as I told Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens—that Prime Minister Gillard was supporting that nomination. All three of them enthusiastically and genuinely supported that nomination. He was someone who, in the noise of politics and conflict and petty squabbles that go on, soared above the political landscape—in this building and out there in the community.

To Christine, Ruby, Michael and Heather—and all of his family—I pass my condolences to you. His state funeral was a very historical event. I think it was wonderful to see Sir John Carrick, a good comrade of Tom’s as a prisoner of war. They led parallel lives of different political viewpoints but both are people, for those of us who have come after them, to whom we owe eternal respect for what they did for our nation.

Dec 4, 2014

Constituency Statement- WestConnex

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:57): The second President of the United States, John Adams, once remarked that ‘facts are stubborn things’. ‘Whatever our wishes, inclinations or passions,’ Adams said, ‘we cannot alter facts.

We cannot change evidence.’ That is a good rule for people who are involved in infrastructure. That is the rule that we established through the creation of Infrastructure Australia: to get proper advice from experts based on cost-benefit analysis—based on the benefit to productivity guiding where infrastructure investment went.

The Abbott government has ignored that. The experts at Infrastructure Australia urged the government to invest in the Melbourne Metro. We had already spent $40 million on getting the planning right. We urged it to invest in the M80 program. One billion dollars had already been spent on improvements to the ring-road around Melbourne —much needed and of much benefit—but it was cut in the budget this year. And then we have the Managed Motorways Program, benefiting the Monash Freeway to the east of Melbourne, where there was a $68 million cut in the budget even though it had a cost-benefit analysis of 5.2, or a $5.20 benefit for every dollar invested.

The government backed the East West Link project in spite of the fact that the cost-benefit analysis was 0.5— or, if you add things in, 0.8. Last Saturday, the voters of Victoria rendered a judgement about those actions by electing my friend Dan Andrews as Premier of Victoria.

Today I also want to talk about the WestConnex road project in Sydney. The WestConnex project, as I said on 12 March last year as the Minister for Infrastructure, needed to achieve three objectives. I told the House about three commitments that we made: one, the M4 has to take people into the city; two, the M5 has to take freight to the port; and, three, you cannot have new tolls on old roads.

That position was right then and it is right today. At the moment, the proposition that the WestConnex project will channel traffic to St Peters, to the west of the airport, to the most heavily congested areas of Sydney, and then traffic will have to funnel its way through Gardeners Road or King Street, Newtown, will ensure that this is a road to a traffic jam. This is contrary to the advice of Infrastructure Australia and the advice from Infrastructure New South Wales that, in its 2012 report, said first things first and that better port access was the top priority for New South Wales. I urge the government to ensure that they get this right.

Dec 3, 2014

Condolence Motion- Phillip Hughes

Mr ALBANESE(Grayndler) (10:47): I rise today to express my condolence to the family of Phil Hughes, to his team mates and to his friends. Later today in Macksville on the New South Wales north coast, he will be farewelled. That is an occasion for which Australia will stop and pause.

This tragedy has had an enormous impact on Australians. Cricket is our national game. It is a pastime where people, young and old, participate either by playing or by watching. The shock that someone who was so well known to Australians could lose their life so tragically is one that has had a profound impact on the nation.

Phil Hughes was someone who I had the honour of meeting on a number of occasions. He played for Western Suburbs District Cricket Club as his local team, which is based in Pratten Park in my electorate. Phil Hughes was someone who always had time for the youngsters who played cricket there, from Milo cricket up to the district competition. My son was one of those young people who played cricket based at Pratten Park, for Summer Hill Cricket Club. My son was also a left-handed batsman. I think you can tell a lot about someone who is a star—and make no mistake: Phil Hughes was a superstar—by how they approach a young kid who nervously comes up to them and asks for a bit of advice or just to say hello. Phil Hughes gave batting tips to my son. I well recall him giving my son a bat and asking him about his stance and giving him a bit of advice that was gentle, considered and humble. This was a bloke who was a country cricketer based in the relatively small town of Macksville, which will be mourning today.

Phil Hughes is someone who never got ahead of himself. In spite of his setbacks—four times dropped and then returned to the Australian cricket team; he played 12th man and he spent a lot of time in the dressing room as well as on the field—he never thought that that was not good enough for him. The way that he approached the youngsters, not just my son but the youngsters coming up through the Western Suburbs teams at Ashfield, to me indicated the character of the man. It was absolutely of no surprise to me the impact that his passing has had on Michael Clarke, who has shown extraordinary leadership during this difficult time, and on the rest of his teammates.

Today I also acknowledge the trauma that Sean Abbott must be going through. Sean Abbott was just doing his job as a bowler, and there could have been no expectation of this tragedy. I have seen a lot of cricket over the years. You just do not expect that someone will be seriously hurt, let alone lose their life, when a ball comes down the pitch.

Phillip Hughes was someone you wanted to watch. He is someone you wanted to be in the team because of the quality of his cricket. He is someone who was unorthodox, someone who was not a graceful player like a Mark Waugh or a Greg Chappell. He had an unorthodox technique but he was extraordinarily effective and fantastic to watch, particularly his play through the offside. His driving and his cuts are something that will remain.

The fact that these statements are being made in the House—and that today he will be honoured by the presence of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and others at his farewell—says a lot about the impact that he had during his all-too-short time on this planet. I today express my condolences to his family, to his teammates in the Australian cricket team and the South Australian team, to his former teammates in New South Wales and to the Western Suburbs cricket club in my electorate. He had an enormous impact on all those who watched him but also an enormous impact on all those who had the privilege to meet him.

 

Dec 1, 2014

Grievance debate – Abbott: A plan to get into government, but no plan to govern

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (19:04): Those great philosophers, Jagger and Richards, wrote and sang in 1965: ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Australian voters might be reminding themselves of this today, as they consider the disappointment known as the Abbott government. This is a government defined by disappointment, deceit and incompetence. The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed into a confused Prime Minister—a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand of his own negativity. Not only can he not lead the nation he cannot even lead his own government, which is desperately split on policy and political direction and crippled by internal power struggles.

The source of this government’s dysfunction is the cynical opportunism of its period in opposition. Most parties in opposition focus on holding governments to account and on rebuilding their credibility by developing new ideas. That is what Dan Andrews did in Victoria over the past few years. He made himself a participant in the battle of ideas and now he is Premier of Victoria. When the Abbott government was in opposition its only focus was on attacking the former Labor government. As opposition leader, the Prime Minister transformed the coalition into the ‘no-alition’, building his entire case for power on anti-Labor hatred and three-word slogans—everything about politics and nothing about policy.

That is why the Tories have retreated to their comfort zone today. Without positive ideas they have been forced to lean heavily on Tony Abbott’s regressive and punitive personal ideology—one that values individualism ahead of equity and opportunity. The Prime Minister’s negativity did make him a formidable opposition leader, but it makes him a pretty bad Prime Minister. We now see that negativity is all he ever had. It is his only weapon: he is a ‘one-trick Tony’.

You cannot win the battle of ideas if you have no ideas; you cannot run an economy on three-word slogans; you do not create jobs by saying ‘no’ to everything; and you do not inspire people by misleading them. Before the election, the Prime Minister promised no cuts to health, education, pensions, the ABC or SBS. He promised no new taxes. In government, he has cut $80 billion from health and education, slashed funding for the ABC and SBS and created new taxes whenever people visit a GP or fill up their car at the petrol bowser. Rubbing salt into the wounds, he has since insulted the electorate’s intelligence with Monty Pythonesque claims that he has not broken any promises.

The Prime Minister is on the wrong side of history; his place defined not by leadership and forward-thinking but by a sad yearning for a less equal and less progressive past—a place where average Australians pay a Medicare levy every week only to be told they have to pay again to visit a doctor; a place where education is about entrenching privilege, not spreading opportunity; where climate science is derided; and where a visiting US president’s praise for the splendour of the Great Barrier Reef is attacked by those opposite as an affront to our national sovereignty. It is a place where our renewable energy target has been so successful that it has to be scrapped; where we have only one woman in the cabinet; where radio shock jocks and partisan newspaper columnists set the government’s political agenda; where bigotry is a right; where people communicate over ageing copper wire rather than 21st century fibre; and a place where the long-faded trappings of our colonial past are revived through the reintroduction of the British honours system.

The Abbott government has misread the egalitarian nature of Australian culture. Australians care about the fair go. Part of what defines us is a generosity of spirit—one that embraces a sense of community and common interest. Australians support measures to improve the budget, but they are not stupid. They know that when a single income family on $65,000 a year will be $6,000 a year worse off every year, while corporate tax cheats are a protected species, that budget repair is being used as a cover for an ideological agenda. They know that a budget that was truly under emergency conditions would not promote a paid parental leave scheme that will have an ongoing impact on the budget of $5 billion a year and more into the future. The 2014 budget was not a plan for the future but an attack on the gains of the past. Australians know it is unfair and they are demanding better.

In my own area of infrastructure, the Prime Minister has treated his election promises like plates at a Greek wedding. The government said it would preserve the independence of Infrastructure Australia. What they have done is try to remove that independence through legislation—an attempt abandoned only after pressure from Labor and business groups, including the Business Council of Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and, indeed, Infrastructure Australia itself.

The government said they would reappoint Sir Rod Eddington and the chairman of Infrastructure Australia but they appointed a former Liberal Party minister instead. They said they would not invest in infrastructure without cost-benefit analysis to ensure value for money. Then they took money from Infrastructure Australia priority projects that had had cost-benefit analysis done and reallocated it to the East-West Link, Westconnex and a Perth freight link.

The government said there would be cranes and bulldozers at work on new projects within 12 months of their election. But there are no bulldozers, just bull dust. They said they would pay money to states for infrastructure projects in stages, based on the achievement of milestones. Then they gave the Victorian government a $1.5 billion advance payment for the East-West Link, a project that has not commenced construction.

They pretend they are investing in new infrastructure. But they continue to travel the nation on a magical infrastructure re-announcement tour, seeking ownership of existing projects funded by the previous Labor government. This deceit has reached absurd levels with the renaming of projects. Labor’s F3 to M2 project became Northconnex, while Western Australia’s Swan Valley Bypass became NorthLink. Renaming a project does not make it new. Worst of all, the few new road projects in the budget are being funded by cuts to all Commonwealth investment in public transport projects not under construction.

The Prime Minister, in his manifesto Battlelines, wrote:

Mostly there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car and cars need roads.

An absurd proposition for any national leader to make in 2014.

I do not remember a more cringe-worthy moment than when he had an opportunity to speak to the world’s leaders about a vision for the future at the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane. Mr Abbott’s contribution involved whinging about Australians not supporting his GP tax and proudly declaring he had removed a price on carbon. There is no issue too big for Tony Abbott to show how small he is.

But I have got news for the Prime Minister. Serious world leaders want to act on climate change. Serious world leaders see our system of universal health care as something to be envied. The problem is not that Tony Abbott is stuck in the past. It is that he wants the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company.

Prior to the election, the coalition insisted it would provide adult government. But there is nothing adult about a government that has spent an entire year attacking the Labor Party and devoted no time to actually governing. There is nothing adult about a Parliament that is run on partisan lines. There is nothing adult about having an Assistant Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, sit on the sidelines on the basis that he is only incompetent, which is the best possible scenario that you can make from the events that occurred in New South Wales.

Australians are sick of the negativity this government has brought to national political debate. They want a government to focus on what really matters: them, jobs, access to health care, equity of opportunity through access to education; cities that are productive, sustainable and liveable; healthy communities that value diversity; and an integrated transport system that includes both public transport and roads.

Above all, Australians want a government that governs in accordance with Australian values, like that of the fair go. This might come as news to some of those opposite, but not all values have a dollar sign in front of them. This is a government characterised by opposition to anything public: education, public health, public transport, public broadcasters, public housing. The theme is they do not like the public but the public will certainly get a say come 2016.

Dec 1, 2014

Private members’ business – Coastal Shipping

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:19): The oncers who have promoted this motion before the chamber do not know what they are talking about. They are driven by an ideological position that says: when in trouble on an issue, attack workers. That is their reflex position. They do not understand the reforms that were introduced by the former federal Labor government and they do not understand what the challenges are for the shipping sector in Tasmania.

The industry agreed with us. We did not write the policy. We sat down and worked with industry, and what they came up with were issues such as the volume of exports, which is one of the big challenges. So how do you facilitate an increase in the volume of exports? You do so through practical measures. For example, by dealing with salmon so that it is not frozen but semifrozen, and giving public support for that, you increase not just the value of the product at its end destination but also the volume of exports, due to the demand that increases for that product. They were practical solutions, not the simplistic, just-smash-workers solution that is being put forward.

Our shipping reforms were not a protectionist model. If you want to look at a protectionist model, have a look at the Jones act in the United States and what other countries do with their shipping policy. What we said was: ‘We want a level playing field for Australian shipping. We want them to be able to compete with their international competitors on an equal basis.’ So we undertook measures such as slashing tax rates on Australian shipping companies to zero; introducing a seafarers tax offset to encourage the employment of Australians, something that this government is trying to abolish now; and creating the Australian International Shipping Register, allowing foreign-owned vessels limited access to tax relief provided that they hire Australians as senior officers and commit to investment in skills training. They are the sorts of measures that we undertook. In Tasmania, a $37.5 million fund was set up to help Tasmanian companies overcome obstacles to increase exports.

But what we see from this government is an attempt to throw all of that out. They say that workers who staff ships around the Australian coast should not be paid Australian wages. Just think about that. At the same time, we are having a debate about the China free trade agreement, where Andrew Robb says it will not allow Australian wages and working conditions to be undermined by Chinese wages and working conditions. If a truck that goes from Melbourne to Sydney happens to be owned by a Filipino who brought in a Filipino worker in order to drive that truck, that driver cannot be paid foreign wages. Shipping cannot be undertaken in those circumstances either.

It is not just about the undermining of working conditions. We know that, if you look at where incidents have occurred around the coast—incidents that have a significant impact on the Australian economy—they have involved foreign-flagged ships. We know that flags of convenience represent a problem not just for the economy but also, potentially, for the environment due to the damage that can occur, such as what occurred off the Gladstone coast just a few years ago, and national security. It amazes me that those opposite, who speak a lot about border security, are quite prepared to have the Australian flag completely disappear from the Australian coast. This is not Work Choices; this is Work Choices on water. That is what they want. They want Work Choices on water to enable the replacement of what remains of the Australian shipping industry.

We have an opposite approach. We want to build the Australian shipping industry. We want to build its capacity. It has not been given a chance to work, because those opposite have been busy undermining the investment that would occur from the business community. The business community will not invest in a program that the current government are saying that they will get rid of; common sense tells you that. Those opposite have failed in their approach. They have retreated to the old-fashioned, bash-the-worker approach. That is simply not good enough and not in the interests of Tasmania. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.

Nov 27, 2014

Condolence motion – Hon. Wayne Goss

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:41): When I was a young man growing up in the progressive political movement in the 1980s, people from my home state of New South Wales used to poke fun at Queensland and Queenslanders. The joke used to be that, when you crossed the Tweed River in Queensland, you had to wind back your watch 10 years.

Of course, there was an element of parochialism in such remarks; people from New South Wales and Queensland have always been friendly rivals, and that age-old rivalry is played out each year in State of Origin matches. But, for most of the 1970s and 1980s, there was also an element of truth to the charge that there was something wrong in Queensland.

People knew that, while the weather was fantastic up north, the political atmospherics were, to be generous, somewhat cloudy.

Wayne Goss changed all that. This mild mannered lawyer, politicised by the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975, was a genuine hero. Although he was in office for only six years, Wayne Goss brought fundamental change to Queensland—change that dragged the state out of the political dark ages and into the light.

Let’s consider Queensland in the 1970s. It was run by a right-wing populist. Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a reactionary who derided education. He refused to introduce a prep year for Queensland schools, meaning that Queenslanders were a year behind children in southern states when they finished school.

It was a corrupt state. Police were on the take. Conservative politicians collected donations in brown paper bags. It was a police state. Protests on anything from workers’ rights to the right of people to protest were met with truncheons.

It was a morally bankrupt state. A South African rugby union team chosen on racial grounds was welcome while anti-apartheid protestors were not.

Wayne Goss was there that day in 1971 when police tore into anti-apartheid protesters with batons. Like hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders, he grew up living under the shadow of an arrogant government with no respect for civil rights.

As a young lawyer, he would have heard National Party politicians swearing blind that there were no illegal casinos in Brisbane, even though he could see such establishments openly operating. He also watched as the National Party entrenched its power with a political gerrymander.

Part of the problem was the weakness of the Labor Party of the time. It was run by a small group which was unable to build the political momentum to confront the Bjelke-Petersen regime.

But by 1983 the party had shifted after an intervention by then federal Labor leader Bill Hayden. A new group of leaders emerged—a new group of leaders that understood that Labor needed to endorse candidates with broader political appeal. Wayne Goss was one of their first draftees.

He entered parliament in 1983 in the seat of Salisbury and by 1988 Wayne Goss was Leader of the Opposition. One of his first decisions in that role was to hire the then young Kevin Rudd as his chief of staff. Together with Wayne Swan, then Labor’s Queensland party secretary, the trio led Labor to victory in the 1989 election, helped by the fact that the Fitzgerald inquiry had finally laid bare the police and political corruption that had flourished under the coalition.

Goss’s list of achievements in government was impressive.

He implemented the findings of the Fitzgerald inquiry, eliminating the gerrymander and creating proper institutions to prevent a re-emergence of police and political corruption. He decriminalised homosexuality. He abolished the much hated police Special Branch, which the Nationals had used to keep track of political opponents. He ended logging on Fraser Island. He created parliamentary committees, including budget estimates committees, to increase the power of the Parliament to keep the executive honest. This was, of course, critical given the Queensland Parliament has no upper house.

Above all, Goss restored pride to Queenslanders.

Before Goss, Queensland was the political badlands—a place where dodgy dealings were common and went unnoticed due to a lack of proper institutions. After Goss, Queensland was respectable again.

No government can ever completely stamp out corruption and wrongdoing, but Goss did what any government should do: he put in place the proper checks and balances that should be part of any well-functioning democracy. This took immense courage and strength.

Wayne Goss was also a dedicated Labor man who entered politics because he wanted to deliver opportunity for all. He knew from his own experience that education is the great enabler. He understood struggle. Wayne Goss grew up in a housing commission home in Inala, in Brisbane’s south. He was the oldest of six children and the first of his family to attend university. He learned from his own experience that education and hard work represent the pathway to personal social mobility. Having risen from a housing commission home to the highest office in Queensland, Goss wanted to make sure others would have the same opportunity. That is why he lifted education funding.

While Goss had a soft heart, he also had a hard head. He was a non-nonsense Labor man who knew no amount of opportunity can change a person’s life if they do not learn the value of personal responsibility and self-reliance. Once asked by a journalist whether his government was providing enough welfare support for the poor, Goss shot back, ‘The best form of welfare you can give a person is a job’. This was why his period in office was marked by careful economic management that aimed to grow the Queensland economy and thereby grow jobs for his fellow-Queenslanders.

Wayne was endorsed to contest the safe Labor seat of Oxley in the 1998 federal election. The illness that finally took his life intervened, preventing him from bringing his intellect and leadership to the national stage.

In the wake of Wayne’s death, there has been some criticism of the fact that tributes to his life have stressed the shortcomings of the Bjelke-Petersen era. Bjelke-Petersen’s supporters claim his period in office was not as bad as has been claimed by people reviewing Goss’s achievements.

I would like to finish today by respectfully rejecting this view. Bjelke-Petersen did oversee a dark period in Queensland history. Anyone who wants to view that era through rose-coloured glasses ought to read the report of the Fitzgerald inquiry. Wayne Goss liberated Queensland from a period of its history which should be remembered for its lack of proper governance.

It took great strength and immense integrity.

He deserves our gratitude.

These days, entering Queensland is not regarded as a step back in time. Wayne Goss was forward-looking and dynamic, and his approach transformed Queensland permanently. His efforts ensured Queensland’s natural beauty was harnessed for the benefit of Queensland and the entire nation. In fact, many Australians move there from the southern states, knowing the bright sunshine is matched by a political system that sets a standard for openness and accountability.

In recent years Wayne spent considerable time in Sydney on business. On a number of occasions, he would take me aside and offer advice on issues of the day or on more general political analysis. He was always a very intelligent man and humble about his own achievements. His advice was always well-considered, thorough and strategic, and I benefited from that advice.

I express my condolences to Wayne’s friends, particularly his good friends Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan. I also express my sincere condolences to his beloved wife and life partner of 32 years, Roisin, and his children Ryan and Caitlin. Wayne Goss’s legacy is extraordinary and I pay tribute to this great Queenslander.

 

Nov 25, 2014

Question to the speaker – Standing order 94(a)

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:12): I have a question to you, Madam Speaker. In the context of this, it is 12 months since this parliament, the 44th Parliament, started meeting. Is the Speaker aware that you are now the record holder, having excluded more members of this chamber than any previous Speaker since Federation, now that you today passed the 250 mark?

The SPEAKER (15:13): I am perfectly well aware of what occurs in this chamber. I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that, if there were not disorderly conduct, it would not be necessary.

Nov 24, 2014

Private memebers’ business – East West Link

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:52): American diplomat and thinker Benjamin Franklin once made an astute observation about the nature of advice. ‘Wise men don’t need advice,’ Franklin said, ‘and fools won’t take it.’ When it comes to investing in infrastructure, the Prime Minister, like Franklin’s fool, won’t take advice. The Prime Minister is investing a total of $3 billion in the East West Link road project in Melbourne. This is precisely the same amount that was cut from the Melbourne Metro project. This is in spite of the expert advice from Infrastructure Australia and Victoria’s planning and traffic experts that the Melbourne Metro is a higher priority. The expert advice is that the metro will deliver more public benefit for the investment, improving the reach, quality and frequency of public transport services in Melbourne. It would take thousands of cars off the roads. It would improve commuting times for train users. It is necessary work if other new lines, such as a link to the airport, are to be possible. It would make more room for people who continue to use the city’s roads.

But the Prime Minister has his own ideas. He outlined those ideas in his 2009 political manifesto Battlelines, in which he wrote:

Mostly, there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads …

This loopy view explains why, upon taking office, the Prime Minister cancelled all Commonwealth investment in public transport projects right across the nation. Whilst the Treasurer believes that poor people do not drive too far, the Prime Minister believes that people do not use public transport. This kind of weird ideology, this complete ignorance of the daily lives of millions of everyday Australians who rely on public transport, is the policy context of the motion before us. Of course, the political context is Saturday’s Victorian election. The motion’s mover seeks to boost the political stocks of her Liberal Party colleagues, who are in real trouble leading up to Saturday’s election.

The truth is that both projects, in terms of roads and rail, seek to address traffic congestion. I believe you need to invest in roads, but you need to invest in rail also—not one or the other but both—and you need to direct the priorities based upon Infrastructure Australia’s advice. It is why we allocated more investment in public transport than all other Commonwealth governments combined since federation.

Importantly, Infrastructure Australia was created to give advice based upon cost-benefit analyses which are published. Why is it that the East West Link cost-benefit analysis is still not published and still not available, in spite of the fact that $1½ billion has already been forwarded? In its 2013 Infrastructure Priority List, the Melbourne Metro and the upgrade of the M80 road were right at the top. The East West Link is further down the list, with potential, but the cost-benefit analysis had not been completed. The former Labor government took this advice and allocated money for the M80 upgrade and for the Melbourne Metro. The Victorian government initially backed the Metro and in 2012 spent $118,000 of public funds to produce a video simulating a journey on the new train line, as was published by The Age last week. The federal government had already invested $40 million on the planning. The Metro was ready to go, recommended by Infrastructure Australia, so the Abbott government cut $3 billion from the budget. The next stage of the M80 upgrade is ready to go, with all planning completed, positive BCR, over $1 billion already invested to improve productivity on this ring road. It was recommended by Infrastructure Australia. So the Abbott government cut $500 million from the budget. Then there is the project that is part of the Managed Motorways program, to the east of Melbourne. This use of smart infrastructure has the highest ever benefit-cost ratio of any project recommended by Infrastructure Australia. The Monash Freeway section between Warrigal Road and Clyde Road has a benefit-cost ratio of 5.2—$5.20 return on every dollar invested. So what did the government do? The Abbott government cut $68.6 million from the budget. The Napthine government now also champions the East West Link, but it was revealed in The Age last week that the Victorian government’s senior traffic planners wanted to stick with the Metro. Instead, they have an alternative plan that does not even pass through the Melbourne CBD.

Ignoring expert advice is bad enough, but the Prime Minister’s actions also breach one of his fundamental election promises. Just days before the federal election the Prime Minister told the National Press Club:

I have given a commitment that we won’t spend more than more than $100 million on any single infrastructure project without a published cost-benefit analysis.

Well, there is no published cost-benefit analysis and as recently as 20 October the head of Infrastructure Australia, John Fitzgerald, told the Senate budget estimates committee hearing:

We are still in the process of assessing that project. We have not formed a final view on that.

I have got news for Mr Fitzgerald—the government does not care what Infrastructure Australia thinks about this project. It has already handed over $1½ billion, including $1 billion for stage 2 of the project, which will not start until 2016 at the earliest. This is at the same time that the government is demanding widows, invalid pensioners, students and average mums and dads do their bit for the so-called budget emergency that they talk about. But they have a billion dollars to hand over years in advance of this project, in spite of the clear commitment that was given by the assistant minister that there would be a milestone payments. He said:

That we’re hitting milestones, that we’re only making payments to states when they actually deliver the milestones, that they’re not getting money in their bank account prior to milestones being delivered

Yet, $1½ billion is in their bank account—earning interest; not creating jobs, not doing anything to build infrastructure, just sitting in a bank account earning interest.

Our cities are under siege from worsening traffic congestion. You do not need to be a Rhodes scholar to know that the roads alone are not the solution. Public transport is part of the solution, and here is a good example— construction of the Regional Rail Link began in 2010. The project will untangle freight and passenger lines connecting the Melbourne CBD to Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. It will provide an extra 54,000 commuter seats a day. It is the biggest single Commonwealth investment in public transport in the nation’s history, with more than 15,000 workers involved so far. The Regional Rail Link will take 45,000 cars off the road during peak periods and save the state’s economy $300 million per year. Best of all, it is ahead of time and under budget.

What was the incoming coalition government’s response in Victoria to this project? They stopped it. They paused the project when they came into office and tried to renegotiate for funding to go to other projects. They said that this was a project that was over budget—not true. They did that by refusing to take into account the contingency reserve that were factored in for this vital project for Melbourne and for Victoria. Eventually, after spending months criticising it, attempting to negotiate with the federal government, it went ahead—but it went ahead in spite of the Victorian government. And in spite of the fact that they said this was a wasteful project, they have not missed a photo opportunity. They do not invite the federal members who were responsible for getting the funds for this project or the local state members, but state ministers have been turning up at these openings of new stations such as West Footscray. There are other stations in the Werribee region that are ready to be opened but the state government now pretends that this is their project—nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that, if our nation wants an effective, properly integrated transport system that delivers productivity gains for the entire economy, the Commonwealth must invest in public transport. If we want to liberate long-suffering Australians in drive-in, drive-out suburbs, the Commonwealth must invest in public transport. If we want to reduce carbon emissions, the Commonwealth must invest in public transport. We need an infrastructure strategy that is about integrated transport in our cities and in our regions, and that is the way forward.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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