Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Aug 8, 2017

Bruce Highway go-slow continues

The Turnbull Government is continuing its go-slow approach to upgrading the Bruce Highway, with new official figures showing that nearly halfway through its 10-year upgrade program, it has invested only a quarter of its promised budget.

Prior to coming to office in 2013, the Government claimed it would spend $6.7 billion on the Bruce Highway in the decade from 2013-14 onwards.

However, new figures obtained by the Opposition under the Senate Budget Estimates process show that four years into the program, the Government has spent $1.7 billion.

The Bruce Highway is Queensland’s most-important piece of road infrastructure and is central to the movement of freight and people up and down its coast.

While the Government says it is committed to upgrading the highway, the figures show its actions don’t match its rhetoric.

It’s time to stop the go-slow program and get on with improvements that will enhance road safety and deliver productivity gains that will drive economic growth, particularly in regional Queensland.

The Coalition has form when it comes to underspending on the Bruce Highway.

The Howard Coalition invested $1.3 billion on the road in nearly 12 years in office. By contrast, the former Labor Government invested $5.7 billion on the Bruce Highway over six years.

 

Aug 4, 2017

Labor thanks Mark Birrell

Labor pays tribute to the retiring Chairman of the board of Infrastructure Australia, Mark Birrell, for his long service to nation building in Australia.

Mr Birrell was one of the first board members of Infrastructure Australia when the former Federal Labor Government created the organisation in 2008 to advise government on infrastructure policy and provision.

Working with governments on both sides of the political fence, Mr Birrell has been integral in advocating an evidence-based approach to infrastructure provision in Australia.

Under his leadership, the board has maintained Infrastructure Australia’s National Infrastructure Priority List and overseen important research and policy development that have enhanced the ability of governments to achieve greater value for money in major projects.

The recent Infrastructure Australia report about preservation of corridors for infrastructure is consistent with Mr Birrell’s long-held views.

He came to this important role after leading industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia as its founding chairman after time in the Victorian Parliament during which he served as Minister for Major Projects.

I thank Mr Birrell for his service and wish him well in the future.

Jul 27, 2017

Cheap excuses won’t solve traffic congestion

The Turnbull Government should stop the excuses and get behind the much-needed Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.

News yesterday that Infrastructure Australia has refused to back this important project is extremely disappointing given the same organisation approved its business case in 2012 and declared it “ready to go’’.

On the basis of that approval, the former Federal Labor Government and the former LNP Queensland Government reached a deal to deliver Cross River Rail in 2013 – a fact former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirmed on Sky News on May 29 this year.

Indeed, the project would be nearing completion today if incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott had not scrapped it later in 2013 and transferred the funding to toll road projects in Sydney and Melbourne. Those road projects were funded without business cases, no questions asked.

Since ousting Mr Abbott, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has claimed he wants to invest in public transport but failed to provide a dollar of new investment.

Mr Turnbull likes to take selfies on trains, trams and buses. He should invest in trains, trams and buses.

Failure to deliver a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in Brisbane CBD soon will act as a hand brake on economic and jobs growth, not just in Brisbane, but right across South East Queensland.

The Queensland Government understands this and is going it alone on the project, which will create 8000 jobs during construction and take 19,500 cars a day off the city’s roads.

While Mr Turnbull is happy to hand out money to projects in southern states with no evidence of their value for money, he is stonewalling on Brisbane’s infrastructure needs.

The only thing stopping Commonwealth investment in the vital Cross River Rail project is politics. Queenslanders deserve better than that.

Jul 25, 2017

Perth Citylink sets the standard

Today I inspected the Perth Citylink project – an exemplar for public transport investment in our cities which proves the importance of inter-governmental co-operation on major infrastructure projects.

The former Federal Labor Government invested $236 million in the project to link the CBD with Northbridge, working closely with the WA State Government.

We also invested in other road and rail projects including NorthLink (formerly known as the Swan Valley Bypass), Gateway WA, the Great Eastern Highway upgrade, Muchea to Wubin upgrades and the Great Northern Highway, North West Coastal Highway and Bunbury and Esperance upgrades.

This co-operation is in stark contrast to the Federal Coalition Government, which has spent too long working against the WA Government.

I was pleased to tour the new underground bus station today with the Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti.

With our cities growing strongly, governments must invest in public transport.

Infrastructure Australia has said that traffic congestion will cost the nation $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031 without action now. In Perth alone, the cost of delays in urban transport will blow out from $2 billion in 2011 to $16 billion by 2031.

Yet recent analysis of the 2017 Budget by the Parliamentary Budget Office found Commonwealth investment in infrastructure expressed as a percentage of GDP will halve in the next decade from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

After years of cuts and inaction the Federal Government must lift infrastructure investment to boost productivity and drive economic and jobs growth.

This is a particularly important in WA as the economy continues its transition out of the investment stage of the mining boom.

Jul 20, 2017

Coalition talks about a plan for a plan

The Turnbull Government’s Cities Performance Framework interim report released today is nothing more than a plan for a plan.

What’s more the ‘Framework’ that the report purports to establish will be, at best, a poor imitation of the annual State of Australian Cities report published by the former Federal Labor Government and scrapped by the current Coalition Government.

The State of Australian Cities report was first introduced in 2010 to “track and compare cities’ performance in order to make the best policy and investment decisions for Australia’s future”.

These reports were downloaded millions of times and considered a highly valuable resource by stakeholders and policy makers because of the breadth and depth of issues each report encompassed.

In contrast, the “Framework” proposed by the Coalition is far less comprehensive, making no mention of important issues such as the impact of climate change on our cities as well as the challenges of our ageing population.

The Property Council has also identified a gap in terms of data on housing supply, with its Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, saying today that it “is a critical part of the housing affordability equation, and we again call on the Turnbull Government to reinstate the National Housing Supply Council to plug this gap.”

What’s more, the “Framework” won’t even be released until the end of this year.

In the meantime, Australian cities continue to grapple with critical issues including urban congestion, housing affordability and rapid growth in outer suburbs.

Urban congestion alone will cost the nation $53 billion a year by 2031 if left unaddressed.

Australian cities can’t keep waiting for the Coalition Government to act on its rhetoric.

Our cities need real investment, and the evidence-based research that underpins this investment, now.

Labor understands this and that’s why when we were in Government, in addition to producing reports, we also:

  • Established the Major Cities Unit;
  • Released Our Cities, Our Future: a National Urban Policy For a productive, sustainable and liveable future which articulates the Commonwealth’s objectives and priorities for our major cities;
  • Created the Urban Policy Forum made up of national leaders in cities policy to advise and guide future policy;
  • Committed more to modernising and extending urban passenger rail than all our predecessors since Federation combined;
  • Funded the Liveable Cities Program to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable;
  • Established a National Smart Managed Motorways Trial to retrofit smart technology to improve traffic flows along congested motorways and city roads;
  • Placed the need for infrastructure planning reform on the agenda of COAG with the establishment of the National Planning Taskforce;
  • Required all State and Territory governments to have in place strategic plans for their capital cities to guide future growth.

 

Jul 14, 2017

NAIF toll roads proposal is absurd

The absurdity of the Turnbull Government’s approach to infrastructure has been underlined by its bizarre proposal to build toll roads in Australia’s north through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

Anyone who knows anything about the economics of financing roads would know toll roads will not stack up in the relatively sparsely populated areas of northern Australia.

This absurd proposal is the latest manifestation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign to cut Commonwealth infrastructure investment.

His approach is further illustrated by his creation of the new Infrastructure Financing Unit (IFU) to promote methods of financing.

The IFU has been rejected as needless by economists and the peak infrastructure sector body Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which has repeatedly called on the Government to lift its own level of investment.

However, a report released last week by the Parliamentary Budget Office noted that Commonwealth infrastructure investment expressed as a proportion of GDP will halve over the next decade from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

While private investment can be used to help deliver major projects, the fact is that private investors will only invest in projects which, like toll roads, produce revenue streams.

The former Labor Federal Government invested $5.5 billion on roads in Northern Australia. But since 2013 Mr Turnbull has cut infrastructure funding to the bone.

The NAIF, created amid fanfare more than two years ago, has yet to invest a single dollar in a single project.

NAIF is an appropriate acronym for the Government’s infrastructure agenda, except it should be called the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

Jul 12, 2017

Coalition’s $3 billion Victorian infrastructure rip-off continues

The Turnbull Government will deny Victorians $3 billion in infrastructure funding over the next four years by investing only 12 per cent of its budget in a state that is home to a quarter of the national population.

Four years after it took office and cancelled billions of dollars of investment for important projects like the Melbourne Metro, the Turnbull Government continues to rip off Victorians while pretending otherwise.

New calculations by the Opposition show that even accounting for the recent Commonwealth investment into regional rail services from its Asset Recycling Fund, Victoria will receive $2.7 billion in Commonwealth infrastructure investment over the next four years.

That represents 12 per cent of the national infrastructure budget.

Victorians pay their taxes.

They deserve a fairer share of nation building investment to keep pace with population growth and underpin economic and jobs growth.

However, for four years the Federal Coalition has refused to back Victoria on infrastructure investment, despite its critical importance to the state’s economic development.

During its period in office the former Labor Government invested $201 a year on infrastructure per Victorian, delivering productivity enhancing projects like the Regional Rail Link and Stage I of the M80 upgrade.

But 2017 Budget forward estimates show that by 2020-21, Canberra will spend only $46 a year on infrastructure per Victorian.

No wonder the peak infrastructure industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia rejected the recent 2017 Budget, calculating it would drive infrastructure investment in this country to its lowest level in a decade.

Jul 10, 2017

Coalition must back Gawler Electrification project

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must match his rhetorical support for public transport projects with actual investment in the electrification of the Gawler Rail Line through Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

The upgrade of this rail line was first approved by the independent Infrastructure Australia in 2009.

The former Federal Labor Government allocated $293.5 million in general works including replacing sleepers on the line and upgrading stations and also put aside $76 million for the electrification.

But the incoming Coalition Government withdrew the funding a few months later.

Since then, the Coalition has failed to provide a dollar of investment for the project, despite Mr Turnbull’s frequent declarations about the need to improve public transport in Australian cities.

The South Australian State Government has now been forced to go it alone on Stage I and has written to the Commonwealth seeking a 50-50 partnership with the Commonwealth for Stage II.

The Prime Minister likes taking selfies as he rides on trains. But he refuses to provide new investment for trains.

He should partner with the SA Government to upgrade the Gawler Line and also work with it to deliver the AdeLINK light rail project.

Instead, the Prime Minister has sought to conceal his inaction on public transport by creating a National Rail Fund which he says could be used for projects like the Gawler Line upgrade.

But the National Rail Fund is a con.

It will not deliver a dollar this year. Not next year. Not even the year after.

It is time for Mr Turnbull to stop talking about public transport and provide real investment in real projects, including the Gawler Electrification and AdeLINK

 

Jul 7, 2017

Coalition must act now on high speed rail

Malcolm Turnbull must accept the advice of Infrastructure Australia and begin to secure the corridor for a High Speed Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra before it is built out by urban sprawl.

Today’s report by Infrastructure Australia calling for the government to begin securing land for the line follows four years of inaction by the Coalition on this visionary project.

In 2013 the former Federal Labor Government allocated $50 million to create a High Speed Rail Authority to advance planning and secure the corridor.

But the incoming Coalition Government scrapped the plan, which Labor had proposed in response to the recommendations of an independent expert panel that included former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott and the late Bryan Nye, of the Australasian Railways Association.

Since then the Government has refused to bring on a debate of my Private Member’s Bill which would create such an Authority.

This remarkable lack of vision threatens the viability of the project, with Infrastructure Australia’s report warning that development is now consuming land along the route.

High Speed Rail would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours.

It would also turbo charge the economic development of the regional centres along its route, including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The former Labor Government conducted a feasibility study into the project which found it was viable, producing $2.15 in public benefit for every dollar invested in the Sydney to Melbourne corridor.

It is time for the Coalition to stop stalling and get behind this project in the national interest.

Jul 6, 2017

Coalition facilitates maritime sackings

The Turnbull Government is continuing to abuse maritime laws to facilitate the sacking of 40 Australian seafarers and their replacement with overseas crews earning third world wages.

The Canadian Steamship Lines (CSL) Thevenard, which has been operating around the Australian coast for nearly a decade, sailed to China recently where its Australian crew was sacked on Wednesday.

The Government has issued the company with a temporary licence allowing it to continue operating in Australia with a new crew of overseas seafarers on vastly lower wages.

While the Australian Government has the power to issue temporary licences, they must be for temporary work in cases where no Australian ship is available.

The Thevenard already had an Australian crew.

And its work was in no way temporary, with the ship having operated between Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane carrying gypsum, fly ash and minerals sands since 2008.

In 2015 the Government used similar permits to allow the owners of the MV Portland to replace its Australian crew with overseas seafarers, despite the fact that vessel had been operating in Australian waters for more than 20 years.

This followed the Senate’s rejection of the Coalition’s WorkChoices on Water legislation, which would have removed any preference for Australian seafarers in coastal trade.

It is extraordinary that any Australian Government would actually facilitate Australians being sacked because they are paid Australian wage rates.

Australians want a Government prepared to stand up for Australian jobs, but the Turnbull Government is doing the opposite.

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Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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