Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Hansard"
Oct 10, 2016

Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2016-2017, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017 – Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:55): I am pleased to take the opportunity to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017 and cognate legislation because it gives me the opportunity to speak about the failure of this government when it comes to long-term investment in the infrastructure which Australia needs for future economic growth and future jobs creation.

The fact is that when we came to office in 2007 Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD for infrastructure investment; when we left, Australia was first. In the first two years since the change of government, there was a 20 per cent decline in public sector infrastructure investment. That has a short-term impact on jobs, and we see that youth unemployment is higher today than it was during the global financial crisis. It has an impact on the living standards of people in the short-term. More importantly, it has a long-term economic impact. What we will see is a handbrake on future economic growth, as shown by this government’s lack of vision when it comes to infrastructure and nation-building.

Quite extraordinarily, during the last election campaign—during the entirety of the longest campaign since the Second World War—we saw not a single new major infrastructure investment announced by this government. Not one. There was Labor out there announcing support for the Metronet in Perth; announcing support for Cross River Rail in Brisbane; announcing support for AdeLINK, the light rail expansion in Adelaide; announcing support for the Melbourne Metro; and announcing support for Western Sydney Rail, including a connection to Badgerys Creek airport so that public transport is open from day one and those employment lands in Western Sydney are opened up for opportunity. Yet we have seen nothing from the government—nothing whatsoever.

They had, indeed, 78 small announcements during the election campaign—the sorts of projects that you normally see in local government or maybe even state government. They added up to less than a $1 billion. Of the 78 projects, extraordinarily, 76 of them were in coalition held seats prior to the election—76 out of 78! An extraordinary proposition! We will wait to see what the National Audit Office has to say about the government having their infrastructure policy determined not by Infrastructure Australia but by the electoral map. That is precisely what we see happening, including in the upper Hunter with a $1 million road upgrade for something that is used for a billycart race! I know that billycarts can be good fun, but in the 21st century—when high speed broadband, public transport and efficient roads are the key to economic growth—it says it all about the government that one of their priorities was a billycart road for a billycart race that is held once a year in a community. I am not saying it is not good fun—I am sure it is. I am sure it is worthwhile. But the fact that it came out of the nation-building budget says it all about the government.

Of course, Deputy Speaker Irons, you would know that, because you have in your electorate of Swan the largest road project that has ever been held conducted in Perth—the Gateway WA project. You were there when I turned the first sod on that project. You were there when that project began, and you were there also when, while we were still in government, parts of it were being opened. Yet, during the Senate special election and during the by-election for the electorate of Canning, we saw the government pretend that it was somehow new!

I had a repeat of that last Monday when I was in Redcliffe. The Redcliffe rail line extension was first discussed in 1884 and first promised in the Queensland state parliament in 1895, but it took a federal Labor government in 2010 to commit, with the Bligh government and the Moreton Bay Regional Council, to making that vision a reality. I was able to visit the new stations that have been built as part of that project. Indeed, it is an incredibly exciting project. Of course, the Prime Minister was there. The Prime Minister will never miss an opportunity to be at a ribbon cutting. The problem is that he is never there when a project begins. Under his watch not a single new rail project has begun anywhere in the country.

I quite like the fact that the Prime Minister likes riding on trains. I just want him to fund some or to fund one—that will do; fund one project. Fund AdeLINK, fund the Perth Metronet or fund the Cross River Rail. He does not even have to find new money; he can just put back the money that was cut in the 2014 budget from projects like the Cross River Rail project. At the press conference after the opening of the Redcliffe rail line the Prime Minister was asked, ‘What about some funding for Cross River Rail? We know that it will reach capacity within five years and that will have an impact not just on residents of Brisbane but on residents of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast as well.’ The Prime Minister said, ‘We are waiting for more information.’ Well I have got news for him. It was approved as the No. 1 priority project by Infrastructure Australia in 2012 and was subsequently funded by federal Labor in the 2013 budget.

This is a project that stacks up. This is a project that is vital. This is a project that would be under construction today had Tony Abbott not cut the budget in 2014 because he had, quite frankly, the mad ideological view, as he outlined in Battlelines, that public transport was not the responsibility of the Commonwealth. He said that the federal government should ‘stick to its knitting’ and that we could be engaged in cities without having any public transport. Of course, that saw a distortion of the market into roads. We saw the money change to the East West Link in Melbourne, which had a benefit-cost ratio of 45c for every $1 returned. As I have said to various coalition members over the years, if they are happy to give me $100 I will give them $45 back next time I see them. If they think that is a good deal, I am up for it. I am absolutely up for that arrangement.

Mr Pitt: I’ve only got a $50 note on me.

Mr ALBANESE: The member opposite says he has only got $50. Well I will give you $22.50 back next time I see you. That would be a good deal, according to you. That is the economics of those opposite with their funding of the East West Link.

They took money not just off rail projects but off the M80. On the M80 last Sunday they had a sod turn on this new section of investment. The problem is that it was funded in 2013. Had they not cut it in 2014 they could have been there at the opening of the project, not at the sod turning. Infrastructure Australia, which now seems to just adopt things after the government and tick them off as a good little obedient servant of the government rather than actually being proactive, has said that the M80 is on the priority list. It was on the priority list five years ago. That is why it was funded. This is the last bit of the sections.

The Moorebank Intermodal project has been underway for years. It was put in a budget well before the 2013 budget. It has been underway. An Infrastructure Australia board member—Kerry Schott, who is a fine member—is the Chair of the Moorebank Intermodal Company and yet a press release came out today from Minister Fletcher saying that somehow this is new and is now on the infrastructure priority list. It is an absolutely extraordinary position taken by those opposite.

What we saw in the budget was a $1 billion cut in infrastructure and investment over what had been allocated by the coalition government previously. There has been a $1 billion cut, including $853 million cut from the Asset Recycling Fund as well as a $162 million cut. Since then we have seen the backpacker tax debacle that impacts on the tourism sector. Now out of nowhere there has been a $5 increase in the passenger movement charge. It is exactly the same process that led to the backpacker tax debacle—no consultation and no economic analysis of what the impact would be.

This is a government that is simply not competent when it comes to infrastructure. In the WestConnex project we have seen a complete debacle. We see a road tunnel begun without knowing where it is going to pop up. We have seen more than a dozen design and scope changes to the project. This is the sort of thing that is going on in my electorate. I note that the person in charge of planning responsibility in New South Wales, Lucy Turnbull, did not even know that there had been more than 100 heritage homes demolished in one suburb—Haberfield—in my electorate. She was completely oblivious to it.

No wonder they are angry. I got this letter from a constituent in Northcote Street, Haberfield, just over the weekend. It is a copy of a letter to the WestConnex authority complaining about the works that are occurring. The writer said:

‘On 7 October my work was disturbed midmorning—as you know from our face-to-face meetings I work from home—by the noise from tree cutting and mulching in the street. I went out to find a WestConnex team destroying the trees on the verge of the street as well as cutting the 100-year-old frangipani in my garden, without any permission being given on my part. I could have given them a lecture on the garden suburb planning principles behind Haberfield’s inception and why that is still important in today’s environmentally fragile world, but I would have been wasting my breath. This tree destruction work was all without notice, as the WestConnex team leader smugly advised me. To add insult to injury, a note was put in our letterboxes later that day stating that our trees were to be cut that day.’

That is this mob’s idea of communication. It is what is occurring. Blackmore Park in Leichhardt is under threat. A whole series of decisions are being made without proper planning and without proper consultation with residents. That is why there is such a backlash, in particular against the Baird government but also because of this government’s failure, when it comes to infrastructure, to undertake proper planning and make sure that it occurs. The funding came first, and then the planning and the approvals came much later. They have got it the wrong way up, and it stands in stark contrast to what they said they would do prior to the election. They said they would have proper analysis for all projects above $100 million in value.

This government has changed some of its rhetoric on public transport and cities and urban policy, but it has not changed any of the policies, and it certainly is not changing any of the outcomes. That is why this government’s infrastructure agenda has been treated with such contempt not just by communities around Australia but also by the business community, which understands that this is a government that has simply failed to deliver.

Sep 14, 2016

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Submarines, Omnibus legislation, marriage equality

INTERVIEWER: Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne join us – good morning to you both.

PYNE: Good morning Will, good morning Albo, and David.

INTERVIEWER: Now can we start with you Chris Pyne? We just conducted a pretty extraordinary interview with Dick Smith following on from that full page advertisement he took out yesterday in The Australian with regard to the awarding of the future submarines contract to DCNS; in which he raised a whole host of concerns about the capacity for Australian industry to change a nuclear model into a conventional submarine; in which he questioned whether we should in fact build something of this sophistication in Australia at all. But he also made some other pretty extraordinary accusations on our program, and I’d just like you to listen and perhaps respond to this:

DICK SMITH: It was to get two seats for the Federal Government, but in fact it only got one seat.

INTERVIEWER: That’s a pretty serious allegation though that’s being levelled then at the heads of Defence (inaudible) to say they can be so easily browbeaten to put lives at risk for the sake of two seats.

SMITH: Well they’re told they don’t have a career unless they do what they’re told and if you’re telling me that the heads of Defence would want to convert a nuclear submarine that doesn’t yet exist into a piston engine powered submarine, that’s ridiculous. I can’t believe, once we pointed that out, that that was a nuclear submarine they were going to base the design on, everyone just laughs.

INTERVIEWER: It’s your portfolio area Christopher Pyne, what do you make of that?

PYNE: Well look, Dick Smith and the four businessmen who are taking out these advertisements, they’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re misguided. They’re wrong, they’re misinformed, and they simply don’t have all the facts at their disposal, and I can’t tell much more than that. I mean, they’re just not right.

INTERVIEWER: What do you make of it Albo? I mean the suggestion that it’s some sort of seat buying exercise?

ALBANESE: Look this has bipartisan support I think Dick Smith, I had a bit to do with him as Transport Minister, he’s a good person but he does like getting his name in the paper.

INTERVIEWER: We mentioned that to him, about his perennial…

ALBANESE: He does like getting his name in the paper, and we’re talking about him now, so his KPI has been met. Every election he is going to run for a seat. And every election he gets a front page splash. And every election he doesn’t run.

INTERVIEWER: I’ll change tack – I want to talk to you about the Baby Bonus, because it sounds like an agreement has been reached between the Government and the Opposition about some of the budget saving measures, over which the Treasurer Scott Morrison and the Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen have been crunching the numbers.

Now one of the things that looks like it’s going to fall by the wayside is the Baby Bonus, which currently gives new parents two grand for baby number one and $1000 for every child thereafter. To you Chris, as the relevant Government Minister, do you think it’s fair that new parents are being enlisted to the cause of budget repair?

PYNE: I think we have to clear that up. According to Matthias Cormann, who is the Finance Minister, the Baby Bonus that you’re talking about is not what is being removed here. This was an extra bonus as part of the child care reforms the Government proposed in 2015 that the Labor Party in the Senate never supported. So in fact it’s a spending measure that’s never been implemented, so it’s not actually taking anything away from young couples as you’ve suggested.

INTERVIEWER: So it was scheduled to come in, was it?

PYNE: Yes, it’s never actually been implemented, according to Matthias on Steve Price. So I think what’s happened is that there’s been a conflating of the two phrases – Baby Bonus. This was a proposed spending measure that the Government wanted to go forward with, but the Senate didn’t support, and we’re simply now not going to go ahead with that and Labor agrees with that. So no one is actually losing any money.
And the wider issue of course of spending measures. I mean there’s a difference between spending money when you have surplus budgets and growing revenue, as we had under the Howard-Costello period, and then implementing spending measures in a time when you have budget deficit and debt, and we’ve had since the Rudd-Gillard period.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of the thrust of these savings, Albo? A lot of people who are sort of stuck in the middle of about the $80,000 combined family income. Do you think people on that level of income, should be expected, or be regarded as being in a higher income bracket and should be expected to make some of the higher sacrifices?

ALBANESE: No, that’s not the case. But the truth is that if you’re on $80,000 you’re not wealthy, but you’re more wealthy relative to if you’re on a Disability Support Pension, or an Aged Pension, or on NewStart and these people would have been hit by the cut. The deal that has been done is a good one, it is a compromise deal, it makes savings for the Budget. But it also in terms of the Baby Bonuses is a good example; you can’t ask people to tighten belts at the same time as you’re introducing a new payment, which is what the Government proposed.

We got rid of the Baby Bonus as part of bringing in Paid Parental Leave and the Coalition promised to get it back. It hadn’t gone through the processes, Chris is right there, it hadn’t been implemented, but Malcolm Turnbull promised, as part of the deal, with the Nats after he became the Prime Minister a year ago to bring it back. It is good that the Government has recognised that it is not a sensible proposition. And I think Matthias Cormann and Chris Bowen deserve credit for coming up with some common sense solutions.

PYNE: I agree.

INTERVIEWER: Well that’s tremendous.

ALBANESE: There you go, that’s just stuffed up your program.

INTERVIEWER: It had to happen eventually. It’s a pleasant change from last week after the Sam Dastyari stink.

ALBANESE: We’ll get on the Swans and the Crows.

PYNE: I thought you were a Hawthorn supporter?

ALBANESE: I am mate, but I’m cheering for the Swans on Saturday. See that just proves I don’t just say what people want to hear. It’s a very brave thing to do, but I’m doing it from the distance of Canberra.

INTERVIEWER: You are a typical Sydney bandwagon jumper, mate.

PYNE: Exactly.

ALBANESE: I think the Hawks have got a good chance, the Bulldogs, and the GWS.

PYNE: GWS is going to be hard to beat.

INTERVIEWER: You’re the type of Sydney AFL fan that would stand at the footy shouting ‘knock-on’.

ALBANESE: Mate, how many Sydney teams are in the top four again? Two. So we do know something about this sport.

PYNE: It’s a nice change, it’s a good thing.

ALBANESE: Poor old Port Adelaide.

INTERVIEWER: As much as I’ve enjoyed this sort of you know, match segue into football that we’ve somehow managed to achieve, we might drag it back to Canberra just for a brief moment…

PYNE: We’re all in shock that we agreed with each other about something.

INTERVIEWER: I know, it totally blew things out of the water.

PYNE: Someone has fallen off their couch at home in the suburbs.

INTERVIEWER: Chris Pyne, could you just explain to our listeners how it’s going to come to pass that this 10 member committee that will oversee the advertising that will accompany the plebiscite debate on both sides. How are they going to possibly assure that it’s not going to become hateful, or it’s not going to become beyond the pale.

PYNE: Well it’s two reasons; one the people who will be put on the yes and no committees will obviously be sensible people. We won’t be putting people on who want to say hateful things about anybody on either side of the debate. Secondly, the advertisement that they want to run will need to be approved through the Government Service Delivery and Coordination Committee, which is called the SDCC, it’s the government advertising committee.

So that’s made up of members of the Government, of course, and various public servants and others and that will not be approving advertisements that denigrate people or discriminate against people. So I think that they are important valves to ensure there is a reasonable debate and I, quite frankly, trust the Australian people to be able to conduct this debate in a sensible way and I’m a bit shocked that Bill Shorten who used to support the plebiscite now doesn’t trust the Australian people.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think Albo; can it be done without rancour and hate speech and abuse?

ALBANESE: I think if people have a look at the sort of material that was put around during the Federal Election campaign in seats like Barton and Banks and I’m sure in seats in South Australia, then unfortunately it is difficult to see how it can be done without some rancour and without hurt.

I think the big issue here that people are missing out on is it’s the term ‘marriage equality’, the key here is equality. Why is it that this issue is being singled out for a plebiscite unlike issues that frankly are more important to most people: jobs, the economy, the subs, education, health. None of that goes to a plebiscite, none of that goes to a debate.

And what we’ll end up having is a debate about the value and relative merit of people’s relationships and that, to me, is not appropriate. The Parliament should do its job, we should have a vote, like we had a vote to change the Act, we can have a vote to change the Act back. That essentially is what our job is to do – we’re legislators. And the plebiscite won’t avoid a parliamentary debate and a vote; it’s just a step in between. Why is this issue being singled out for a step in between when other issues aren’t?

INTERVIEWER: Chris and Albo, thanks for joining us. And before we let you go, Albo, we’ve got to say, or we would say, good luck at the SCG on Saturday but honesty forbids and if you do get up you’ll be defying history because the Crows have won 11 out of the last 17 at the so called home of football there in Moore Park.

ALBANESE: I’ve been to quite a few actually. I don’t think I’ve seen the Crows not win at the SCG.

INTERVIEWER: Well the last one wasn’t so good, we won’t talk about it.

INTERVIEWER: No the last one was forgettable but the rest were excellent.

ALBANESE: That was in Adelaide wasn’t it?

INTERVIEWER: No that was where we won, but the one before that in Sydney we got absolutely smashed by your …

PYNE: Albo follows any team, it doesn’t matter.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you guys.
[ENDS]

Sep 14, 2016

Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 – Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:11): I rise to support the amended Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016. There is no doubt that the issue of budget repair needs to be dealt with. The government has tripled the deficit since it came into office. The fact is that the debt has increased since this government came into office, at a time when spending has not increased in terms of productivity-boosting expenditure such as investment in infrastructure. If, to boost future economic growth, that had occurred, then there might be some justification; but we know that in the first two years of this government public sector investment in infrastructure fell by some 20 per cent. We know that during the recent election campaign the government refused to commit to important congestion-busting investments like the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, Metronet in Perth, the AdeLINK light rail project or Western Sydney rail.

The fact is that issues around recurrent expenditure do have to be dealt with. They require tough decisions. I have been saying for some time that those tough decisions and Labor’s position on them need to be determined on the basis of Labor values, on the basis of how these changes meet the fairness test. It is very clear that the government’s earlier proposal to abolish the energy supplement for pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, recipients of Newstart and single parents was unfair. It was unfair on a range of measures. A range of compensation measures were put in place when the carbon price was implemented by the former Labor government.

We dealt with the issue of the impact on the working poor by tripling the income-tax-free threshold. Middle-class people received income tax cuts. Companies received direct support for the transition to a carbon-constrained economy. As proposed by this government, all of those measures would stay in place. All of the middle-income and high-income earners would keep the tax cuts that were part of the compensation measures. The only people who would be hit by the wind-back of those compensation measures were the poorest people in the community. What made it even worse was the fact that, as a result of the then Labor government not wanting double compensation, we discounted the next normal CPI increase for recipients of income security payments by the next CPI increase, which, of course, would have been impacted by the flow-on from the carbon price. So, in fact, these low-income earners would have been worse off in real terms than had the carbon price not been implemented, and that is why it was unfair to cut these payments by between $4 and $8 a week.

That is bad macro-economic policy because, at a time where the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates in order to stimulate demand and to use monetary policy as a stimulus, it makes no sense for fiscal policy to work in the opposite direction. That is precisely what a cut to real incomes for the poorest people in our society would have done because these people spend all of their income, every dollar, on getting by from week to week. We know that Newstart is already too low. It is not just that people in this parliament suggest that; even the Business Council of Australia suggests that. That is why this clawback of compensation was unfair, and Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, and others—Jenny Macklin in particular, who always has looking after the most vulnerable in our community at the forefront of everything that she does—deserve credit for negotiating a proposition that can now receive the support of both sides of the parliament. To give the government due credit, the fact that they were prepared to be flexible deserves acknowledgement as well.

We need to give people appropriate respect and not just regard people who are on low incomes and who are vulnerable as people who are expendable. If we do not give them a voice who will? It is the Labor Party that historically has stood up for those people and stood up for Labor values—and, once again, we have done this with this package today.

I will also mention briefly the change to ARENA funding. As a result of the measures negotiated, ARENA will have an $800 million budget over the next five years to continue its important work. This is critical work. The promotion of renewables is consistent with Labor’s position of 50 per cent renewables by 2030. We do not think this goes far enough, and it is important that there will be negotiations between the shadow minister and the Minister for the Environment and Energy in order to see if we can get further agreement in the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewables that is so necessary. It is important to acknowledge that climate change is real. It is happening. The quicker we transition to a clean energy economy the cheaper that transition will be. Importantly, this will also support jobs, and the renewable energy sector has seen jobs triple in recent years. The work of ARENA is aimed particularly at early stage developments, and it is important that, as a result of this negotiated outcome, support for clean energy and the renewable sector has been ensured.

Sep 14, 2016

Condolence motion – Mr Bryan Nye OAM

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:19): Mr Speaker, on indulgence, this morning Mr Bryan Nye, the former chief executive of the Australasian Railway Association, who will be known to many members of this House and indeed the Senate, lost his life to the debilitating motor neurone disease. Bryan was the CEO of the Australasian Railway Association from 2003 to 2015. He was a passionate advocate for the rail industry, whether it be passenger, freight or high-speed rail. On behalf of the parliament and all who had contact with Mr Nye, we acknowledge his passing and pass on our condolences to his family, his many friends and his professional colleagues.

Sep 13, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Sky News, The Bolt Report

Subjects: Marriage equality; Omnibus Savings Bill; Newspoll

BOLT: Anthony, thank you so much for your time.

ALBANESE: Good evening Andrew.

BOLT: Given everything that Labor has said about this plebiscite to date, will it now finally decide: No, it cannot back plebiscite?

ALBANESE: I think that is certainly most likely. We’ll wait and see the legislation before caucus meets and makes a determination, but I haven’t heard anyone arguing on the Labor side, or indeed in my local community, that the idea of a plebiscite is a great idea. It’s $170 million or thereabouts. It won’t change anything. You’ll still need to have a parliamentary vote. We’re not having parliamentary votes about superannuation, education, health – issues that impact all Australians – and we have to remember that what we are talking about here won’t affect most people. It will just give some people who happen to be same-sex couples and want to have a lifetime commitment to each other through the institution of marriage the right to have that.

BOLT: And what would you like Labor to decide?

ALBANESE: I am an opponent of the plebiscite. I see no reason why of all issues this should be singled out. I see that as discriminatory in itself. This is just a fix for the issues that were there inside the Coalition Party room and I see no reason why Members of Parliament aren’t able to vote, just as we voted to change the Marriage Act under John Howard; just like we vote on individual issues in the Parliament each and every day and I think that it is incumbent upon us to play our role as members of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

BOLT: So that leads you to a conundrum. I mean, you are saying it’s got to be decided by politicians. The Liberals are saying no, it’s a plebiscite. So if the plebiscite doesn’t get up, you’ve got nothing. There will be no same-sex marriage in this term of government. Are you happy with that?

ALBANESE: Well I would prefer for there to be. But that’s an issue for the Government. There should be a conscience vote. I’ve been consistent on this for a long time Andrew including taking positions such as supporting a conscience vote. I respect the fact that some people disagree with my position on marriage equality. I’ll fight very hard for their right to do that and that is why I support a conscience vote of the Parliament. But if the Government chooses to block the right of members of Parliament to vote on this issue, well that will be a decision for them.

BOLT: OK. I don’t get why Labor thinks the Australian public is so full of hatred and so bigoted it can’t be trusted with a public vote.

ALBANESE: Well, that’s not the issue Andrew.  This issue is: Why is this issue being singled out so that we have a debate and cast a judgement essentially on people’s family status? The fact is that we don’t have plebiscites on anything. You know, we’ve had a plebiscite on conscription way back a hundred years ago. We’ve had some referendums from time to time to change the Constitution. What we don’t do is have government-funded opinion polls with government-funded campaigns for or against a proposition that won’t change a vote in the Parliament. It won’t change the legislation. You can’t get marriage equality through a plebiscite. The only way that you can get marriage equality is through a vote of the Parliament.

BOLT: Well you say it’s just a simple issue about the sovereignty of Parliament – you know the ability of politicians to decide these things but in fact Bill Shorten yesterday said he was against because gays would kill themselves. I thought that was terrible moral blackmail. You can’t be comfortable with that kind of language, surely? I mean, we don’t need that.

ALBANESE: There’s no doubt Andrew that there has been some divisive debate. During the recent federal election campaign I know that some of the material distributed to my home, that happens to be in Barton after the redistribution, caused a great deal of angst. It was about issues that don’t relate to marriage equality but indeed about what some people regard to be the nature of homosexuality, and it was homophobic material that was distributed during the election campaign in a range of electorates and indeed some people have made it clear that during any plebiscite they would  campaign not on the issue of marriage equality, but on the nature of people’s sexuality and whether that was a perversion of what they see as the natural order of things. Now that would be a divisive debate. here’s no question about that.

BOLT: All debates are divisive. But you’ve already said that was occurring even before any plebiscite – that kind of thing. A no case is really about the nature of marriage and whether weakening this tradition is good for family cohesiveness or not. No-one is going to be funding with taxpayers’ money the kind of propaganda that you are talking about.

ALBANESE: And the point that you just put is of course a perfectly legitimate point. It is not one that I agree with. But I certainly respect the view and understand the view that some people have put to me which is that they regard marriage as not a civil institution, but essentially a religious institution and two people being joined together under God’s authority rather than the authority of the state. And under those circumstances I understand that people will come to different conclusions to where I come from on this issue. But the fact is that whether there is a plebiscite or not, there will be a parliamentary vote. So why would you – I agree with you in terms of it taking up too much time in terms of front and centre. The main issues that concern Australians – the nature of the economy, where jobs are going to coming from, education, health, infrastructure – all of those issues we are not taking to a plebiscite,  we are not engaging in national debate on. What we are doing is singling out this one issue that does impact on some people. I met rainbow families today. They were visiting here in Parliament House and they were very clear that they don’t want a plebiscite, that they would prefer, if that means a delay in something that I think really is inevitable that it will occur, then that was something that they were prepared to live with. And as someone who is not affected directly by this – I’ve got a right to be married – then I will also listen to those people who do have direct consequences for their relationships as a result of whether marriage equality is allowed or not. It seems to me that if you support the institution of marriage, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want more people to sign up to it.

BOLT: So rather a delay than a plebiscite. Well. Today, Labor and the Liberals – switching to the more important things that you mentioned – Labor and the Liberals reached a deal to save $6.3 billion over four years. Now that’s about only $1.5 billion a year, let’s not get carried away here. The deficit this year – this year alone – is tipped to be $37 billion. This really is fiddling at the edges isn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well, you can certainly argue that Andrew, but this is a government that has tripled the deficit since they came to office and have increased the debt burden substantially. What we have shown today is that we are prepared to be constructive and we’ve put forward – it was Labor that initiated a number of the savings that are in place as a result of the deal essentially today – but at the same time protected fairness.
I was very concerned that some of the poorest people in our community – pensioners, single parents, disability support pensioners, the unemployed – would get a real cut in their income. And when you have had the Business Council of Australia arguing that the dole at the moment is too low in terms of for people to subsist on, then I think the idea of a further real cut was a draconian measure and I am pleased that that has been taken off the table. I also think that it was against the macroeconomic argument. When you have monetary policy – the Reserve Bank lowering interest rates to stimulate the economy – then fiscal policy shouldn’t be contractionary and work against monetary policy.

BOLT: Yes.

ALBANESE: It‘s got to work hand in hand. And of course the poorer you are – if you are a pensioner you spend your money, you don’t save it.

BOLT: It’s just that we’ve got a $37 billion, staring at a $37 billion deficit this year alone, and probably going to blow out, let’s be honest, and this deal would cut $1.5 billion a year. Where’s the next tranche of savings coming from? Is this it for Labor? You’ve closed the kitty? That’s no more? No more cuts?

ALBANESE: No, well we put forward, Bill Shorten at the National Press Club put forward, $80 billion worth of savings that Labor has proposed – constructive  positions on  superannuation – tough decisions that we were prepared to argue the case for on capital gains tax and negative gearing. We’ve shown that …

BOLT: Yes but they are all tax rises. I am talking about spending cuts. But listen, we’ve had that debate before I guess. Anthony, today Newspoll came out and had the Government and Labor tied at 50-50. Now personally I think the way the government has been going you should be way ahead. Why aren’t you?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve just been though of course an election and what is extraordinary is that last week I don’t think was Labor’s finest and we’re still on 50-50. The Government didn’t receive a bounce at all and I think they would have been very disappointed by that. Malcolm Turnbull  got to strut the world stage in China in Hangzhou.

BOLT: You had Dastyari.

ALBANESE: Exactly. Those things normally will reflect well on a government.

BOLT: There was also an Essential Poll to be fair out today that had Labor at 52 per cent, the Government at 48 – which is a pretty good lead. I was more interested in this finding Anthony: 45 per cent of voters actually want the Racial Discrimination Act reformed to allow more free speech. Just 35 percent against and even Labor voters are basically divided – 39 percent for, 42 per cent against changing the Racial Discrimination Act. This is without any leadership from the political class apart from Cory Bernardi and those backbench Liberal senators. Why can’t Labor support more free speech?

ALBANESE: Well, I of course am a great supporter of free speech as is the Labor Party. But what we always come back to here is what is it that people want to say that they’re not allowed to say at the moment?

BOLT: Well, they (inaudible) allowed to say things like in two of my columns that have been banned Anthony and I’d tell you exactly what I wanted to say, but I can’t. So there’s two. And the students at Qld University of Technology, seven students sued under this Act.

ALBANESE:  Well yes. But in terms of the action and what the consequences are of course of that are still playing out. Look, we do need some common sense here. But we also need I think to avoid circumstances whereby we have a big debate, and I still haven’t seen, you are unable to tell me what it is that was cut out of your columns. I still haven’t heard ….

BOLT: But that is because they are banned and that’s exactly the problem you know. I could tell you what you can’t say except I would be sued if I did Anthony. This is the problem.

ALBANESE:  I think Andrew, with respect, the idea that you don’t have freedom of speech – you have this show that I appear on regularly. You have had shows on commercial TV.

BOLT: You are missing the point.

ALBANESE:  You are we well regarded columnist at the Herald Sun, you have a blog. I think the idea …

BOLT: So you think if I can talk about the weather that means I can talk about anything?

ALBANESE I think you have freedom of speech, Andrew. That’s what I think.

BOLT: Not on this issue. I might have these platforms. I can’t speak on this issue. The Queensland students don’t have these platforms and they can’t either – seven of them sued, three of them had to pay go-away money, three are before the courts now. That cannot be the Labor way.

ALBANESE: Well, I think Andrew in terms of freedom of speech and an ability of people for people to express themselves, with social media, with the number of platforms that are out there, I don’t think there’s been a, well I know, it is a fact that never in human history have individuals had an opportunity like they have to day to get their views out there into the public.

BOLT: Well, and then they get sued for it. But Anthony Albanese we’ll further that discussion elsewhere. I thank you very much for coming on tonight.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Andrew.

Sep 13, 2016

Standing and Sessional Orders

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:59): I do indeed second the amendment. I do so with some level of surprise that the Leader of the House has brought forward such retrograde changes to the standing orders. I remember well, after the 2010 election, the group hug when Christopher Pyne, on behalf of the coalition, signed the document, Agreement for a better parliament: parliamentary reform, on 6 September 2010. That is what our amendments go to with regard to the selection committee.

During the period 2010 to 2013 we had literally hundreds of debates and votes—determinations—by this parliament about what the members of the House of Representatives thought of issues that were relevant to their electorates and issues that were relevant to the nation. At the time, the Leader of the House said this in a media release the day after the event:

The ‘Agreement For A Better Parliament’ negotiated between the Coalition, Labor and the Independents will amend parliamentary standing orders to establish a more independent Speaker, limit the power of the executive, increase the ability of parliament to scrutinise legislation, enhance the role of private member’s business and the committee system and make question time more useful and relevant.

Now, which of those positive enhancements has the Leader of the House decided is not convenient?

As a result of the changes that occurred through the selection committee and through private members business—I quote from the preamble, which was signed by Christopher Pyne, the Leader of the House, on behalf of the then opposition—

… there will be a need for recognition by all to allow more MP’s to be involved in various roles and debates, to allow more community issues to be tested through private members voting …

These were indeed very positive amendments.

They were also amendments that gave respect and standing to the crossbenchers to more fully participate in the activities of the parliament. In my view, that resulted in very good legislation, because you had consultation and you had engagement. As a result of that, we were able to pass some 595 pieces of legislation through this House without losing a single piece of legislation during that period. It was a result of a cooperative approach that respected the fact that each member of this House is representative of their electorate, has a mandate to carry out those duties as the representative of their constituency and should be treated with some respect.

When I was leader of the government in the House of Representatives, with 70 votes on my side on the floor of the House of Representatives, we did not lose a vote. In three years we did not lose a vote. This mob with 76 could not survive three days without losing a vote. That is what this shabby rort of changes to standing orders are designed to do. It is a shabby manipulation of the standing orders, so that, as the Manager of Opposition Business indicated, even if they do lose a vote, they will come back to it at another time. We know, in terms of the wording of that particular standing order, that it refers to a new division in the case of confusion, error or misadventure. We know they are confused about their policy approach; we know that they are committing errors and we know that it is a misadventure when you leave the parliament while parliament is still conducting its business. We saw that on the last sitting Thursday.

I can understand that the Leader of the House, the whip and others who missed out on voting in those procedures on that Thursday are embarrassed and humiliated. I feel their pain. I went through three years being concerned. I needn’t have bothered, because we on this side were organised about how we ran the parliament. People were happy to turn up to work and turn up to vote. We consulted and we organised legislation, but those on the other side have proven themselves to be incapable of doing so.

I do think that the Leader of the House should perhaps reconsider some of the more draconian measures that are being put forward in these standing order propositions. After all, given the Senate performance yesterday, his performance on that Thursday looks good. I am sure he has sent a card and a note to Senator McKenzie, thanking her for taking some of the pressure off him about his performance of his duties.

So I say to the Leader of the House, if you think it is smart to get a political outcome through a manipulation of rules, you should think back to the geniuses who came up with the Senate reform proposals that resulted in there being fewer coalition senators, fewer Greens senators and more crossbench senators and that reinvigorated the One Nation party in the other chamber. Think about what happens when you think you can put in a political fix rather than engage in issues of substance and negotiate your position. You should have the confidence in your position to be able to argue things on their merits; you should have confidence in your own party room, that your members will actually turn up to votes; and you should have confidence in the power of your arguments not to be frightened of having a Selection Committee that operates properly, that chooses private members’ business in an appropriate way, chooses motions to have votes on and allows for a determination in this parliament of issues that have been brought by honourable members. You should not be frightened of being able to test the power of your case, if you actually have an agenda.

For a government that had no business in the Senate and has no sense of purpose—that does not have an agenda—I would have thought that voting on private members motions and bills through a Selection Committee process might help you out. It might give you something to do. You might get that sense of purpose from non-government members. If you do not proceed like this, what people will do, what you will find, very simply—it is not up to me to give advice to the crossbenchers or other members, but I have had a bit to do with them over the years—is that private members’ motions get converted into private members’ bills, and they will end up being just a lot of bills before the parliament. That is what will happen. Whenever you try to do a manipulation and a fix you find that there is always a way around them. I note that my friend the member for Kennedy had two private member’s bills before the parliament this week. He has worked it out—he has been around this place for a while—and other people will work it out too. There are ways of getting the same outcome.

I will conclude with this: so opposed are the government to ideas that they have even knocked off the library committee. I await the reason for knocking off the library committee, but that just shows that this is an attack on the independence of this parliament, because the Library plays a very important role.

(Time expired)

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (17:59): I do indeed second the amendment moved by the Manager of Opposition Business. We have had barely a week of sittings, and the parliament has been reduced to a shambles by this mob opposite. We had three years of minority government; it functioned well. We were in control not just every day, not just every hour and not just every minute but every second—every second of every sitting day we controlled the agenda in this House. The other mob: three days and it fell apart.

So upset were they with each other, they were running for the doors just to get away from each other. I thought to myself, ‘What is the precedent of people running from parliament?’ I say this in the hope that those brilliant producers at Insiders will be listening and will get out the footage of the gazelle who ran away from a division to try to avoid voting during that parliament. They ran away from the parliament.

Yesterday we had scenes in the Senate where people were not running anywhere, but perhaps they should have been. I think Senator McKenzie regrets not running from the parliament. That embarrassing performance—the depiction of a government without an agenda and whose senior members were incapable of giving a stump speech about their achievements one year into the government—said it all.

The real problem here is that the Leader of the House and the Government Whip and the people who missed the vote missed the vote. They missed a vote. What should have happened then? Should there have been some punishment for the Leader of the House? Perhaps. Should there have been some punishment or penalty against the Chief Government Whip? That has happened. That is a rotating door. She is the third one they have had during their first term of office, so we know there are lots of precedents for that. No, they have not done that. There was no action against the Leader of the House, no action against the Chief Government Whip, no action against the ministers who missed the vote and no action against the backbenchers who missed the vote. The action is against the parliament itself. They come in here and they say, ‘We know the way to avoid missing a vote in parliament: we will stop the parliament sitting!’

This year we will sit for 51 days in total. We sat for three days—one day of which was ceremonial, and the second day of the actual sittings did not work out too well. So we are back here this week and then we are off again for another three weeks. This is a government in search of an agenda and in search of a reason for existence. ‘What is the purpose of Malcolm Turnbull?’ is what people are asking.

The SPEAKER: The member for Grayndler will refer to members by their correct titles.

Mr ALBANESE: The current Prime Minister. They are asking: what is the purpose of a change in prime ministers if the agenda is exactly the same as the former Prime Minister’s and if there is nothing new coming through?

During the last parliament we sat here and had debate after debate about the unprecedented, so-called proroguing of the parliament. We came in here and we had speeches, just to fill time, about the Governor-General’s speech in this chamber. The Federation Chamber, which is usually used for such purposes, was not even used. We have this pretence of a new government, to the extent of having had that proroguing of the parliament. But the Leader of the House has had very different views. This is what he used to say:

The people of Australia expect us to serve our electorates and legislate, not to spend 18 weeks here when we should be spending 20 or 21 or 22 weeks.

That was the Leader of the House, the member for Sturt. There are too many things he said, really, to go through. One of them was:

… the first point to be made is that, yet again, this government is squibbing on transparency and accountability and trying to avoid the parliament.

Well, it is all coming back now, just like, in the past, when he said:

Why doesn’t it have to sit? There are two reasons. Firstly, it does not have a plan for the future for the Australian people. Secondly, it cannot rely on its numbers in the House.

That was the member for Sturt. Well, we did all right starting at 70. They start at 76. Imagine how bad it would be—just imagine it! They would struggle to get through prayers in the morning.

The Leader of the House is a big supporter of reform when he does not have to do anything about it. This is what he said to that esteemed institution, the Institute of Public Affairs. Now, you would not say something that was untrue to the Institute of Public Affairs, because they would pick you up on it. On 30 January 2013, he said:

I have long articulated the need for the creation of a ‘take note’ session to follow Question Time. The session would consist of a thirty minute period following Question Time which would allow a number of Members to speak on the significant matter of the day.

That is what he had to say at that time. He made it very clear, and he spoke about it complementing the matter of public importance.

So, I say: today is an opportunity to make that vision of the member for Sturt a reality. He can do it. He can do it by voting for it—voting for what he said very clearly on the record. He, of course, has also backed other reforms such as supplementary questions. He has backed a range of reforms. We are not putting them all forward here, but we are putting forward the best ones. He should take up this opportunity.

What is good about it is that he can even claim credit for it. He can say, ‘I thought of it first.’ This is an opportunity, member for Sturt, to be in the vanguard of reform because the truth is that this is a parliament that is in need of some proper reform. We have got the Seinfeld Senate over there—a Senate about nothing, meeting about nothing, with no business. We have got an agenda here one sitting week after we dealt with standing orders to change the sitting times and introduce reforms so that people could essentially leave and there would not be votes, divisions or quorums called after 7.30 on Mondays and Tuesdays—something that was not controversial and something that has been welcomed. Probably government members are not aware that that change actually took place.

If you are going to fix the problem, the position of the Leader of the House does not really fix it, because it is 8 o’clock and the problem you have got is that you cannot keep people till 5 o’clock. So, if you are going to solve the problem, we really should be knocking off straight after question time! I have got a bit of Italian heritage and the concept of a nap in the afternoon in Mediterranean countries is very civilised. La dolce vita. Get on board, member for Sturt. I challenge him to actually go the full hog—do what is necessary. You then will not lose a vote. But your heart is not in this half-hearted measure. Be a reformer. Be a visionary. Have some ticker and vote for the Pyne vision.

Sep 13, 2016

Private Members’ business – Infrastructure

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:08): If words and rhetoric could be turned into bitumen we could have duplicated Highway 1 many times over the last few years. If words and rhetoric could be turned into rail track we could have solved urban congestion. The fact is that this government has failed when it comes to infrastructure.

These are the facts: according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics public sector infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent in the coalition government’s first two years in office. For three years the Abbott and Turnbull government has failed to commence a major new project in Western Australia that was not planned by the former Labor government and funded in budgets it inherited from the former Labor government—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting Suspended from 12:09 to 12:31

Mr ALBANESE: In order to hide its inadequate action, the government has gone on a magical infrastructure re-announcement tour. That began just weeks after the 2013 election, when the former transport minister boasted that the government would deliver the Perth Gateway WA project. This was a project that, during the WA Senate by-election, the government pretended was new, but some of it had already even opened at that point. Cars were already travelling on some parts of the road.

We have seen it here again today with the member for Durack speaking about the North West Coastal Highway, the Port Hedland improvements projects, the Great Northern Highway—Muchea to Wubin—the Black Spot Program and the Roads to Recovery Program. All of those have not a single dollar of coalition government funding in them. They were all done by the former Labor government, just like we funded the Swan Valley Bypass, just like we funded, built and opened the Great Eastern Highway project in the member for Swan’s electorate. Indeed, the member for Swan was there when I, as minister, began work on Gateway WA project, and yet the government pretends that it is new. They were funded by the former Labor government, just the like duplication of the Dampier Highway, the Esperance Port Access Corridor and other projects in Western Australia. Indeed, in Western Australia there is not a major road or rail infrastructure project that was initiated by the coalition.

What we saw during the election campaign was nothing short of pathetic. The coalition allocated more than $850 million to 78 new road projects under its program. Of those projects, 76 out of 78 were in electorates held by the coalition at the time of the election, 46 of the 78 projects were in New South Wales and 11 were in Queensland. There were none in Victoria, and in Western Australia, of the 78 projects, there were three in the entire state. By contrast, Tasmania, which happened to have the three amigos—now known as the three oncers—in their marginal seats in Tasmania, had 15 project. There were 15 in Tasmania and three in the entire state of Western Australia.

The member for Durack spoke about the Roads to Recovery Program and financial assistance grants through local government. The government cut $925 million in road funding via financial assistance grants to local government when it froze indexation in 2014. Indeed, one of the worst affected electorates was Durack—$71 million in cuts as a result of that. The fact is that this government has failed when it comes to infrastructure, has failed when it comes to building important roads and failed when it comes to public transport. This is a government without an agenda when it comes to nation-building which has marginalised Infrastructure Australia and politicised the entire infrastructure agenda, which is consistent with a government that has no plan for a stronger economy, just a plan for stronger rhetoric.

Sep 13, 2016

Member statements – WestConnex

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:44): I rise to raise my concerns about the latest stage in the WestConnex project, which has been characterised by poor and ill-conceived planning. The latest suburb potentially to suffer is Leichhardt. Local residents are concerned that a site on Darley Road in Leichhardt will be the midpoint for tunnelling for the extension of the WestConnex project. Darley Road is already a very busy road. There must be proper consultation with local residents and proper planning, including a local traffic plan, to satisfy residents that there will be no adverse impacts on them.

Of even greater concern is that the nearby Blackmore Oval and/or other public space in the area will be used during construction. Active and passive open space is at a premium in my electorate. Blackmore Oval is used by a variety of sporting codes for local sport. In addition, the Canal Road Film Centre is situated behind Blackmore Oval. This centre houses 75 or more specialist businesses that comprise a big part of the Australian film industry infrastructure, which is important for our national economy. I have spoken to the federal minister responsible for urban infrastructure about these issues and have had two direct discussions with the appropriate state minister, Duncan Gay, and called on him to ensure that these issues are resolved and that Blackmore Oval is protected.

(Time expired)

May 4, 2016

Matters of Public Importance – Economy

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:43): I rise to talk particularly about infrastructure and the failure of this government to understand that infrastructure is the key to future jobs and economic growth. This is a budget that absolutely fails. It is a budget that has a $1 billion cut to infrastructure investment over the forwards alone. It is a budget that, in four years time, will see the amount of money that is allocated to rail that is not an equity injection through the ARTC fall to zero dollars.

This is a Prime Minister who came to office saying that he was going to talk about cities and urban policy. What we have seen is that his 30-minute city policy did not actually last 30 minutes. It is a 30-minute policy! In last night’s budget, not a single new project was approved—not a single new project anywhere in the country. There was no money for the Cross River Rail project. There was no money for light rail or heavy rail in Adelaide. There was no money for Metronet in Perth. There was no money for new major road projects. Just simply, there was a continuation of their magical infrastructure re-announcement tour around the country.

It is coming to an end because projects are being opened. The regional rail link down in Geelong, Bendigo Ballarat is now open. It is functioning. Projects like the Moreton Bay rail link will be opened in the next month. They were promised, funded, built and opened under a Labor government—opposed by those opposite. There is no money for western Sydney rail and no money from major road projects. We have just heard a speech from a Tasmanian. Tasmania gets under two per cent. That is its total percentage of the infrastructure budget: a cut to the rail revitalisation program and a cut of $100 million to the Midland Highway. Victoria’s percentage, to be fair, has increased. It is now up to 9.6 per cent. It is just a pity that they have 25 per cent of the population. One in four Australians are getting less than one in 10 of the dollars.

Those opposite speak about Infrastructure Australia and processes and they raise the east-west link—come in spinner. It was a project that was to produce 45 cents of benefit for every dollar invested. I have a proposition for everyone over there: you give me $100 today and I will give you back $45 tomorrow and we will call it a good deal. That is the proposition. What is more, they cut the Infrastructure Australia budget. It falls by 25 per cent in two years. One in four dollars will be cut from the Infrastructure Australia budget. What we saw last night was not budget 2016; it was fudge-it 2016, because the dollars simply do not add up. If today you are not planning for the infrastructure of tomorrow, the investment will fall off the cliff. We have already had under this government a 20 per cent decline in public sector infrastructure investment on their watch.

Dr Leigh: Twenty per cent!

Mr ALBANESE: Twenty per cent—one in five dollars—gone. That will result in lower future economic growth, lower returns in revenue, slower growth, fewer jobs. Is it any wonder that the steel industry is in trouble when investment has dropped off the cliff? This is a government that has no agenda for infrastructure and, in particular, has no agenda for our cities: $50 million for planning, that is it. What a joke of a policy. It is no wonder they are not taken seriously.

May 4, 2016

Constituency Statement – WestConnex Project

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:00): Last Saturday, I attended a public meeting in Rozelle, following an invitation by a member of the Annandale WestConnex Action Group who came to one of the street meetings that I regularly hold on Saturday mornings. It was an expression of concern by the community about the lack of proper planning for the WestConnex Project and particularly the impact it will have in Rozelle. At the moment, it is unclear how many, if any, houses will be resumed, as has occurred in Haberfield. It is unclear where the route will go. It is unclear where any exhaust stacks will be placed. And that uncertainty is creating enormous concern in my local community.

This is an example of planning gone wrong. The WestConnex Project has been funded before the planning or the business case have been conducted. We established Infrastructure Australia to get the process right—do the planning, do the business case, then receive the funding—to make sure projects actually achieve outcomes. And yet in last night’s budget it was confirmed that Infrastructure Australia’s budget will be cut by 25 per cent—precisely the wrong direction. Infrastructure New South Wales identified freight to Port Botany as the priority for roads and rail in terms of Sydney’s urban congestion challenges. The WestConnex Project solves neither.

The WestConnex Project of course goes to St Peters. I wrote to the WestConnex Delivery Authority chairman, Tony Shepherd, saying this: ‘From what has been published, the proposal to widen the M5 and dump traffic at St Peters interchange is absurd. The notion that delivering additional traffic to King Street, Newtown, and parallel congested back-routes represents proper planning is beyond belief.’ I wrote that on 9 November 2014.

It appears that the same mistakes are being made with the rest of this project. That is why I have requested an audit of the entire WestConnex Project, as well as of the government’s infrastructure plans, because it is clear that—with regard to the East West Link fiasco, the collapse of Perth Freight Link in the courts and the blow-out on WestConnex from $10 billion to $16.6 billion—this is a failure of government planning, which is why the national Auditor-General should conduct an audit into the government’s infrastructure programs.

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

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