Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Oct 19, 2017

Coalition halves infrastructure investment

New Parliamentary Budget Office figures released today show that under the Turnbull Government Federal grants to the states and territories for road and rail projects expressed as a percentage of GDP will halve over the next four years to 0.2 per cent.

The PBO’s National Fiscal Outlook report says (on page 17):

Commonwealth road and rail infrastructure expenditure is also projected to fall by 0.2 per cent of GDP over the forward estimates period to 0.2 per cent of GDP in 2020–21, reflecting the funding profile for road and rail infrastructure projects included in the 2017–18 Budget.

The figures highlight the gap between the Turnbull Government’s rhetoric on infrastructure and the reality of its cuts and inaction, particularly on public transport.

While Malcolm Turnbull enjoys taking selfies as he rides on trains, he has refused to invest in trains by partnering with states to deliver much-needed rail projects like the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project.

His inaction comes as traffic congestion continues to erode quality of life in Australia’s big cities and act as a hand brake on productivity and economic growth.

Indeed, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has reported traffic congestion cost the nation $16.5 billion in lost productivity in 2015.

The PBO report also notes infrastructure investment by states and territories will peak at 0.9 per cent of GDP in 2018-19, before falling to 0.3 per cent by 2020-21.

Mr Turnbull should be lifting infrastructure investment to support jobs and economic activity in the short to medium term and boost productivity in the long-term.

Instead, he is slashing investment and pretending otherwise.

Oct 19, 2017

Senate calls for a National Rail Manufacturing Plan

The Senate last night called for the establishment of a National Rail Manufacturing Plan to maximise the benefits for Australians from the $46 billion investment in rail expected over the next decade.

While demand for new railcars is expected to grow by 11,000 in the next 30 years, it is critical we make the right choices now to ensure the manufacturing capabilities associated with their production remain in Australia supporting Australian jobs.

The Plan should include a mechanism to remove the peaks and troughs in market demand, to create some certainty for manufacturers.

The Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report also recommends that a National Rail Procurement Strategy complement the Plan. The Strategy should coordinate the procurement contracts of the states and territories, consistent with international trade obligations. It would allow for the development of capabilities in small and medium-sized enterprises, including:

  • Maximising local content in the manufacture of passenger, freight and light rail rolling stock.
  • Ensuring consistency with the new Commonwealth Procurement Rules by considering whole of life costs, quality, innovation and environmental sustainability.
  • Requiring contractors to implement training programs for apprentices and engineering cadets.
  • Developing and managing supply chains.
  • Harmonising safety standards.

The committee also recommends that the states and territories use the National Rail Procurement Strategy to maximise investment in research and development, including engagement with universities and research agencies.

A Commonwealth coordinating body should be established to oversee the National Rail Manufacturing Plan, the National Rail Procurement Strategy and industry consultation.

The Commonwealth coordinating body should be given terms of reference that allow it to work directly with supply-chain firms to develop rail-industry capabilities.

A Rail Supplier Advocate should be appointed to promote the industry.

The Australian Government should also work with the states and territories and the industry to develop rail industry skills centres at TAFEs and colleges.

Under current arrangements states are doing their own thing on procurement, with 36 different train models in our public transport fleet, many being purchased overseas.

For example, NSW recently placed a $1.7 billion order for new Waratah trains with a Chinese manufacturer, and their new $2.3 billion intercity trains are to be built in Korea.

We must standardise the rolling stock platform used in this country instead of designing a new model each time a government decides to acquire new trains or trams.

Action must be taken to preserve the strategic capabilities of Australian rail manufacturing.

We must maximise the amount of work that goes to Australian firms and create Australian jobs.

Oct 13, 2017

Federal Labor To Deliver Ellenbrook Rail Line & Thousands Of Jobs

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $700 million to build the Morley-Ellenbrook line in Perth’s north-east as the first allocation from its $1.6 billion Fair Share for WA fund.

 

The project will be undertaken in partnership with the McGowan Labor Government and will create thousands of jobs in the Perth region.

 

Labor’s Fair Share for WA fund means more funding, more infrastructure and more jobs for Western Australia.

 

The West hasn’t been getting its fair share from Canberra – that is why Labor’s Fair Share for WA fund brings Commonwealth funding for Western Australia up to the equivalent of a 70 cent GST floor.

 

The Liberals shouldn’t be hiding behind a report on the GST before acting. Western Australians want jobs and infrastructure for their state – that’s what a Shorten Labor Government will deliver.

 

The rail line to Ellenbrook commitment is real funding for a job-boosting project that will see the West grow.

 

The new line, part of the Perth METRONET, will connect the north-eastern suburbs to world-class public transport from Ellenbrook to the city, linking passengers to the major employment hubs of Malaga and Morley along the way.

 

With funding to be provided in the first Budget of a Shorten Labor Government, construction  is set to  commence in 2019, with detailed planning and design work already underway by the McGowan Government.

 

While Labor delivers more infrastructure and more jobs for WA, Turnbull and the Liberals are starting fights with other states without offering solutions.

 

Malcolm Turnbull keeps saying he recognises the GST shortfall – but he’s not doing anything to fix it.

 

WA needs its fair share of funding – and that’s what Labor will deliver.

 

Labor’s decision to allocate the first tranche of funding from the Fair Share for WA fund to a rail line is part of our commitment to giving Australians a public transport system fit for the 21st century after years of Liberal cuts and inaction.

 

While Turnbull loves a taking selfies while riding on trains, only Labor will actually invest in our nation’s railway system.

 

Without transformative projects like the Morley-Ellenbrook Line, the economic cost of traffic congestion in Perth will increase almost nine-fold to $15.9 billion a year by 2031.

 

Labor has a proud infrastructure record in WA.

 

The former Labor Government invested a record $6.9 billion on WA infrastructure, increasing per capita investment from $154 per West Australian to $261.

 

This investment delivered major projects including Gateway WA, the Perth City Link, the Swan Valley Bypass, and upgrades of the Leach, Tonkin, Great Northern and North West Coastal highways.

 

While the Liberals keep talking, Labor is acting. We’ll deliver more funding, more infrastructure and more jobs for WA.

 

More information can be found here.

FRIDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2017

 

Oct 11, 2017

Federal Labor welcomes M1 progress

Federal Labor welcomes today’s announcement naming Lendlease as the successful tenderer to carry out the much-needed M1-Gateway merge upgrade.

The merge needs to be upgraded as a matter of urgency in the interests of the families and businesses who have been forced to sit bumper to bumper on this congested bit of road for far too long.

We congratulate the Queensland Labor Government for doggedly pursuing this upgrade by consistently being willing to come to the table to reach a funding solution.

Construction could have already started on this vital piece of road infrastructure had the Turnbull Government not ignored the needs of the local community for so long.

The Federal Liberals have had years to act on this issue and every minute spent in traffic on the M1 has been a reminder for locals of their persistent failures and neglect.

It’s only through a sustained campaign by Federal Labor, Logan City Council, local businesses and the broader community that the Liberals finally succumbed to community pressure and were forced into action.

Despite all their talk on the M1, it took the Liberals more than an entire term in Government to commit anything meaningful, and for more than four years they didn’t invest a single cent on upgrading that stretch of freeway.

This was mirrored by Tim Nicholls’ state LNP, who didn’t put one dollar into upgrading the M1 during their time in Government.

For our part, Federal Labor not only committed to properly joining with the state to fund the M1-Gateway merge upgrade, but also invested $312 million in upgrades to the Logan stretch of the M1 when we were last in Government.

Local motorists are sick of being stuck in traffic on the M1 and we want to see the upgrade works finished as soon as possible.

Sep 27, 2017

Infrastructure failures a drag on competitiveness

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has cited inadequate railways, roads and communications infrastructure as a hand brake on Australia’s international competitiveness and economic growth.

After the Treasury revealed yesterday that the Turnbull Government had cut its own proposed infrastructure investment by $1.8 billion in 2016-17, overnight the WEF Global Competitiveness Report noted there was a “noticeable drop’’ in Australia’s infrastructure performance in 2016.

While the WEF report ranked Australia 21st out of 137 countries on global competitiveness, Australia’s result was held back by its performance on infrastructure, which ranked 28th.

The damning finding follows yesterday’s news from the Treasury that in the year to June 30, the Turnbull Government failed to fulfil its commitment to invest $9.2 billion on infrastructure.

The Treasury’s Final Budget Outcome document confirmed actual investment was $7.4 billion – $1.8 billion less than Treasurer Scott Morrison promised on Budget night last year.

This represents the third consecutive Budget in which the Government invested less than it promised on the railways, roads, ports and other infrastructure that are critical to economic growth and job creation.

The most recent cuts were across a range of programs within the infrastructure portfolio, including important road safety programs like the Black Spot Program and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

The figures, backed up by the WEF findings, indicate that the Government is either incompetent or is serially misleading Australians about its commitment to nation building.

Sep 25, 2017

Coalition drastically cuts road safety programs

The Turnbull Government has failed to invest more than $200 million it allocated to two important road safety programs in the past three years.

In its first three Budgets, the Government committed $220 million to the Black Spot program, which upgrades safety around the nation’s most-dangerous traffic hot spots.

In fact, it spent $105 million – less than half the amount promised, according to Budget documents.

The Government has also failed to meet its three-year commitment to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which delivers new or upgraded roadside facilities like rest areas and truck parking bays.

It promised to invest nearly $171 million over three years, but actually delivered $64 million – $107 million less than promised.

The drastic cuts demonstrate that the Government is either grossly incompetent when it comes to administering infrastructure programs or has been serially misleading Australians about the level of its commitment to road safety.

The Coalition’s failure to deliver has coincided with an increase in the national road toll after years of decline.

Earlier this month Transport Minister Darren Chester announced an inquiry into road safety, saying he was worried about the upward trend in road deaths and wanted to re-evaluate the national road safety strategy.

However, it is clear from the Budget documents that Mr Chester has not provided the necessary investment required for the current strategy to be as effective as it could have been.

The Black Spot program has been an unambiguous success since it was created because it directly targets known danger zones.

A 2012 assessment of the program by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) found that after black spots identified under the program were upgraded, accidents involving deaths or casualties declined by an average of 30 per cent.

Given that BITRE also found that the average Blacks Spot project cost $157,000, the Turnbull Government could have delivered literally hundreds of safety upgrades right around the nation if it had only spent what it promised.

A 2012 BITRE review of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program found it had been effective in helping truck drivers manage fatigue and linked it to a reduction in accidents.

The Government’s failure to deliver promised investment in the program is even more concerning given that last year it abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, created by the former Labor Government to remove incentives for truck drivers to speed or cut corners to make a living wage.

 

 

Sep 22, 2017

Brisbane Airport leading the way on renewables

While the Coalition Government remains stuck in policy paralysis when it comes to renewable energy the rest of the world is moving on, including in the aviation sector where Brisbane Airport is leading the way.

This morning I received a briefing from Brisbane Airport about its plan to install the largest rooftop energy system in the southern hemisphere.

This ground-breaking project will see more than 22,000 photovoltaic panels across six buildings, which will generate enough electricity for almost a fifth of what is needed to operate the airport.

It will save Brisbane Airport Corporation $1 million in energy bills annually and significantly decrease its carbon footprint.

Brisbane Airport is clearly not alone. The latest Australian Renewable Energy Index shows that Queensland has emerged as the nation’s leading source of renewable energy jobs.

I saw two other projects firsthand when I travelled recently to North West Queensland with Bob Katter to look at the region’s infrastructure needs.

Both the Kidston Solar Project and the Kennedy Energy Park are great examples of how solar, wind, pumped Hydro and battery storage can create renewable energy, which provides large-scale reliable capacity.

The fact is the transport and aviation sectors contribute to carbon emissions, which is why efforts to offset any impact are so important and why we must take an integrated approach.

The Federal Government cannot ignore its responsibility to provide investment certainty and encourage the replication of best practice.

Unfortunately that is exactly what they’re doing, as their own internal climate war rages on with no end in sight.

I congratulate Brisbane Airport on its leadership and look forward to seeing this project progress.

Sep 18, 2017

Labor welcomes Pacific Highway progress

Labor welcomes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s opening of part of the Oxley Highway to Kundabung stage of Pacific Highway Duplication, which was funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

The opening of the section follows the completion of the Frederickton to Eungai and Nambucca Heads to Urunga sections of the duplication, all of which were also funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

While further progress is welcome, Mr Turnbull must explain why he cut investment in the Pacific Highway Duplication project by more than $600 million this year.

Budget documents show that the Commonwealth invested $1.37 billion on the Pacific Highway in the year to June 30. But spending will plummet to $710 million this financial year, raising doubts about whether the duplication will be completed all the way to the Queensland border, as promised, by 2020.

I also note the while the Government media release on today’s opening seeks credit for the project, it previously criticised the Commonwealth’s 50-50 funding agreement with the NSW Government, put in place by the former Federal Labor Government to accelerate the duplication.

While the Prime Minister seeks credit for his work, the reality is that he has hit the brakes on the Pacific Highway duplication.

The gap between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality is reflected across its infrastructure program, with independent Parliamentary Budget Office analysis revealing that over the next decade, investment in transport infrastructure expressed as a proportion of GDP will halve to 0.2 per cent.

By contrast, the former Labor Government delivered record infrastructure investment, lifting per capita investment from $135 per Australian to $265 per Australian over our six years in office.

That included $7.9 billion on the Pacific Highway over six years – six times the amount provided by the former Howard Government in half the time.

When it comes to Labor’s commitment to infrastructure, we stand on our record.

Sep 14, 2017

Nats can’t even deliver own bridges program

The Federal Coalition Government has ripped off rural and regional Australia to the tune of $80 million by drastically cutting investment in its own Bridges Renewal Program.

In 2013 then Nationals Leader Warren Truss promised a Coalition Government would spend $180 million over its first four years in office upgrading bridges in rural and regional communities.

Four years later it has invested $100 million – $80 million less than promised.

Despite this, the Government shamelessly continues to offer up the Bridges Renewal Program as one of its signature infrastructure achievements.

Australians have become accustomed to the Coalition’s endless cuts to infrastructure programs created by the former Labor Government.

But it is now clear the Coalition has no reservations about cutting its own signature program.

This clear breach of election promises highlights how ineffective the Nationals are when it comes to delivering for rural and regional Australia. Time and again they make big promises, only to capitulate to the Liberals around the Cabinet table.

The Bridges Renewal Program was a good idea. Improving old bridges in rural and regional areas would dramatically improve road safety and boost productivity.

But the Government has failed to back its rhetoric with the necessary investment.

Sep 13, 2017

Government resurrects Workchoices on water

The Turnbull Government has relaunched its attack on Australian maritime jobs with legislation that will make it easier for shipping companies to sack Australian crews and replace them with overseas mariners earning third world wages.

The Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill resurrects the Government’s WorkChoices on Water legislation, rejected by the Senate in 2015 because it would have destroyed thousands of Australian jobs.

The legislation would have allowed overseas vessels paying their crews as little as $1.25 an hour to undercut Australian vessels paying their crews Australian-level wages.

After its Senate defeat, the Government promised that any new attempt at shipping reform would involve widespread consultation in a spirit of bi-partisanship.

However, early today Transport Minister Darren Chester broke that promise by introducing his new legislation without consultation with the Opposition and, more importantly, the maritime sector.

The Government also rejected Labor’s attempt to delay the full debate on the new legislation to allow for the consultation that was promised.

While the Opposition has not had time to review the new legislation in detail, it is clear the changes would make it easier for overseas-crewed vessels to obtain temporary licences which allow them to operate in Australian waters on temporary jobs where no Australian vessels are available.

Since the defeat of the WorkChoices on Water legislation, the Government has been abusing the temporary licence system, issuing licences in circumstances where the work was not temporary and in which Australian vessels were available.

Mr Chester’s new changes appear seek to legitimise this abuse in a fresh attempt to destroy Australian jobs.

It is in Australia’s national interest to genuinely revitalise Australian shipping.

The industry not only provides jobs for Australians who pay tax in Australia, but its existence also serves our national security and environmental interests.

Australians want to see more Australian-crewed ships working around our coast and around the world.

But the Turnbull Government wants to replace the Australian flag on the back of ships with the white flag of surrender when it comes to Australian jobs.

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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