Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
May 25, 2018

Media Release – Coalition’s Tasmania Infrastructure Con Revealed – Friday, 25 May 2018

Three out of every four dollars allocated to Tasmanian infrastructure projects in this month’s Federal Budget will not be spent until 2022/23 at the earliest.

And the Budget documents show it did not contain a single dollar of new funding for Tasmania, with all the funding allocated to new projects drawn from money already in the Budget.

For the past fortnight the Government has pretended Budget 2018 reversed the damaging succession of infrastructure investment cuts it has imposed on Tasmania since it took office in 2013.

However, the Budget documents show that delivery of most of the funding allocated to new projects has been pushed out on the Never-Never, beyond the four-year Forward Estimates period.

Little of the funding will flow this year, next year, the year after, or during the two years after that.

This means Tasmanians hoping for action on important projects like safety upgrades on the Bass Highway will have to re-elect the Coalition twice before they see the bulk of the funding.

It’s no wonder that at Senate Estimates this week, officials were unable to say when the Government would deliver the Bass Highway works from its new Roads of Strategic Importance Fund.

The officials revealed that the Turnbull Government had not even discussed the Bass Highway upgrades with the Tasmanian Government.

When it comes to infrastructure, Budget 2018 was a con job designed to win votes, not a serious blueprint to address Tasmania’s infrastructure deficit.

After years of cuts, Tasmania needs investment in railways and roads now, not years from now.

Only Labor can deliver. During our last period if office, we delivered record funding for Tasmania, lifting per-capita investment from $157 per Tasmanian to $264.

May 24, 2018

Media Release – Western Sydney Rail a Low Priority for Coalition – Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Turnbull Government places greater priority on tax cuts for big business than building the much needed Western Sydney Rail to give people of the region the public transport services they deserve.

Before the delivery of the recent Federal Budget, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed he would deliver a north-south train line through Western Sydney to the new Western Sydney Airport.

But when the Budget was delivered, it did not include a dollar for the construction of this important public transport project.

Today, amid reports that the Nationals want to abandon the Government’s $80 billion in business tax cuts, I asked Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack whether he would re-allocate some of that money to the Western Sydney Rail project.

Mr McCormack refused.

It is clear that the Prime Minister and his Infrastructure Minister have misled Australians about funding Western Sydney Rail.

The priority of the Nationals Leader is giving big businesses tax cuts rather than boosting funds in his own portfolio to build the Western Sydney Airport and other critical infrastructure projects.

Its early construction is imperative to ensure that the people of Western Sydney will be able to access new jobs that are expected to be created at the airport and in surrounding industries.

May 24, 2018

Media Release – Coalition Politicising City Deals – Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Turnbull Government is continuing to politicise its City Deals program by prioritising some cities ahead of others based on the electoral cycle.

At Senate Estimates this week the Cities Division was unable to confirm precisely when Darwin, Hobart and Perth would finalise their City Deals, but was explicit that Geelong would receive its City Deal in September or October this year.

Coincidentally, this is just ahead of the Victorian State Election in November.

This follows a string of other remarkable coincidences including the announcement of a Hobart City Deal in the lead up to the Tasmanian State election.

And, of course, we already know that the Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney City Deals were announced during the 2016 Federal Election campaign and largely mirrored commitments already made by Labor.

In the meantime, Darwin has been left to linger, with its MOU signed this time last year, but no finish line in sight for an actual City Deal.

Ideally City Deals would provide an opportunity for genuine collaboration across the three tiers of government, establishing at the same time a long-term strategic vision outside the electoral cycle.

But in practice, the Coalition’s City Deals are a far cry from this model and instead a reflection of political convenience.

Australian cities need real investment and leadership from the Commonwealth so that they are productive, sustainable and liveable places well into the future.

May 23, 2018

Media Release – Turnbull Maintains Funny Money Fantasy on Melbourne Airport Rail – Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today refused to respond to serious concerns about the efficacy of his plan to build a train line from the Melbourne CBD to the city’s airport without actually spending any money.

Prior to the delivery of Budget 2018, Mr Turnbull attracted widespread media attention by vowing he would invest $5 billion in the Melbourne Airport Rail project.

But the Budget included no funding for construction, with Mr Turnbull claiming the rail line could be delivered off-budget via an equity injection.

It is a basic principle of budgeting that for projects to be taken off-budget, they must be able to produce a return to the Budget to cover both the cost of their construction and their operating costs.

While equity funding can deliver some projects, it does not work for public transport. While public transport boosts economic productivity, passenger trains do not produce commercial returns.

This is why a range of experts have questioned Mr Turnbull’s approach. For example, the Grattan Institute has warned: If infrastructure projects are never going to make a commercial return, the government should stop pretending they will.”

Today in Question Time I asked Mr Turnbull to respond to these concerns.

He defended the equity funding proposal.

The Coalition has been cutting infrastructure investment in Australia for nearly five years while pretending otherwise.

But Mr Turnbull’s funny money plan for the Melbourne Rail Link sets a new benchmark in public policy fantasy.

The Prime Minister must explain how he intends to fund his $5 billion Melbourne Rail investment.

If he continues to maintain his sham funding proposal, Australians are entitled to conclude the rail line to the airport will never be built.

May 22, 2018

Media Release – Senate Hearings Demolish Budget Infrastructure Spin – Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Testimony by Government officials at Senate Budget Estimates hearings has shredded Malcolm Turnbull’s deceitful spin concerning infrastructure investment in Budget 2018.

Despite the Prime Minister’s best attempts to deceive people into believing he has increased investment on railways and roads, two days of hearings have established that the Budget did not include a dollar of new money for infrastructure.

Indeed, Commonwealth grant funding for infrastructure will decline from the promised $8 billion in 2017-18 to $4.5 billion by 2021-22.

All new projects announced in the Budget will be funded with money that was already in the Budget.

However, the delivery of these projects has been pushed off into the Never-Never, with only 15 per cent to be invested over the next four years.

That means 85 per cent of the funding won’t be spent before the next election or the election after that.

If Mr Turnbull was serious about nation building, he would be building new railways and roads to boost productivity and drive economic and jobs growth.

Instead, he is attempting to build a case for re-election based on deception and spin because he has no infrastructure record to defend.

Other key facts established by the Senate Estimates hearings:

  • Annual Federal infrastructure investment in New South Wales will decline by 70 per cent over the next four years.
  • Annual Federal infrastructure investment in Western Australia will decline by two-thirds over the next four years.
  • Annual Federal infrastructure investment in South Australia will decline by 80 per cent over the next three years.
  • Annual Federal infrastructure investment in the Northern Territory will decline by 80 per cent over the next four years.of media release
May 21, 2018

Opinion Piece – Rail must be at the Centre of Freight and Supply Chain Strategy – Monday, 21 May, 2018

The freight and logistics sector is the lifeblood of the Australian economy.

It is critical that the Federal Government support the sector with appropriate infrastructure investment, while also providing policy leadership and working with industry and other levels of governments to facilitate the efficient movement of goods around the nation.

In that context, it is good that the Federal Coalition Government is working on a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, to be finalised later this year.

However, it must be noted that the former Federal Labor Government produced such a strategy  – the National Land Freight Strategy – in 2012.

Developed by Infrastructure Australia with input from the National Transport Commission, industry and the states and territories, it was a blueprint for a streamlined, integrated and multimodal transport system. It also complemented the National Ports Strategy which we had published that same year.

In 2013, the incoming Coalition ignored the strategy, before deciding three years later to start afresh.

Putting aside the waste of five important years, it is right thing for the Commonwealth to finally seek to provide leadership in this important area of economic policy.

Getting freight distribution systems right boosts productivity and that drives economic growth and, most importantly, job creation.

Australia’s existing freight and logistic network is struggling to cope with the demands already being placed on it, let alone the added demand that’s expected in the years ahead.

Australia’s population is expected to grow by 400,000 people a year.

That’s a lot of extra consumers who will expect the shelves of their favourite shops and local supermarkets to be filled with the products and brands that they enjoy.

Then of course there will be the growing demand from industry to supply the raw material and capital equipment required to make those consumer goods in the first place and for exporters to get their products to market as quickly as possible.

As the work load increases, we must look rail to lift its share of the freight task compared to other modes of transport.

That is not to diminish the indispensable role of road transport. Road, air and seat transport will all play their part.

But when it comes to moving large volumes of freight over long distances, rail
has significant advantages that we must exploit in coming decades.

Rail does the job at a lower cost and more safely.

It is also the most energy-efficient mode of land transport, meaning less pollution and a smaller carbon footprint.

In fact, rail produces three times less harmful carbon emissions than road.

Having more freight carried by rail also translates into lower highway maintenance costs, less congested urban arteries and fewer road accidents.  Just one 1800 metre can replace as many as 100 trucks.

When you add up these competitive advantages, it is clear that a growing role for rail must sit at the centre of the new freight strategy.

That makes it critical that we get the planning right for projects like the Inland Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne.

We must also continue to invest in clearing bottlenecks that hold back productivity.

The former Labor Federal Government focused heavily on rail, delivering the biggest investment in Australia’s freight rail infrastructure in more than a century.

We rebuilt a third of the interstate Network – or some 3,800 kilometres of track.  This work included re-railing, installing new passing loops and extending existing ones, and replacing the ageing timber sleepers with 3.4 million Australian-made concrete sleepers which don’t buckle on hot days.

But we also invested in eliminating bottlenecks.

In Sydney, for example, we built a new 36 kilometre dedicated line between Macarthur and Chullora, thereby separating freight from passenger trains.

Previously, freight trains endured frustrating delays getting into and out of
Sydney due to limited tracks and the priority given to passenger trains, particularly during peak periods.

This $1 billion piece of infrastructure tripled the capacity of this vital rail corridor.

We made further investments in Sydney, such as the Moorebank Intermodal, and in other cities around the nation.

I’m proud of that record. But more needs to be done.

We need to invest in new lines, continue to eliminate bottlenecks and be prepared to use technology to improve the efficiency of existing lines.

The modernisation of the nation’s rail freight infrastructure is a project that serves the national interest. It must continue.

This is an edited transcript of Mr Albanese’s speech to the Australian Logistics Council’s Forum 2018, delivered in Sydney on March 7, 2018.

This appeared in the May-July 2018 edition of Track and Signal Magazine.

 

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018

May 21, 2018

Transcript of Television Interview – SKY News, David Speers PM Agenda – Monday, 21 May, 2018

Subjects: Senate Estimates Commitee hearing on faster rail.

DAVID SPEERS: .. A million dollar grant to a business to do a business case on a, not a High Speed Rail, Link but a fast rail link between Melbourne and Shepparton. With me now to talk more about this is the Shadow Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese. Thanks for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Thanks David.

SPEERS: This is a  $5 million – well, to be clear it is $20 million that went to three different companies. So one of the companies we are talking about here, that you are concerned about, has received presumably somewhere in between $5 million and $20 million?

ALBANESE: Around and about. They didn’t seem to be able to provide the precise details.

SPEERS: You are a big fan of High Speed Rail. But what is wrong with this?

ALBANESE: I’m a huge fan of High Speed Rail and we had a proper study – $20 million into High Speed Rail down the east coast from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. It identified a route. It identified regional economic growth as one of the great benefits of High Speed Rail. What we have here is quite extraordinary though. Here we have $20 million set aside in last year’s Budget, in 2017, for studies into faster rail and this proposal; it’s not just that it has a hole in it, it’s that it is one big hole – an idea of having faster rail from Melbourne to Shepparton but the company that is involved here – the company of Nicholas Cleary, a former senior New South Wales National Party person – CLARA – doesn’t have, it would appear, the money to back up the joint funding that is required. It only has $422,000 in capital in its accounts.

SPEERS: To do the …

ALBANESE: To do the study. The idea was matching funding. That doesn’t appear to have been there. They don’t have all of the land options in place for the corridor that is being picked to Shepparton and indeed there’s a lot of speculation around Shepparton that some of this corridor is on a flood plan and it relies …

SPEERS: That could be problematic.

ALBANESE: Could be a problematic.

SPEERS: Let me just break this down, this guy Nick Cleary, his company is Consolidated Land and Rail Australia. – CLARA. So he has been given several million dollars from the Government. He is obviously very keen on making a buck out of High Speed Rail. He has been buying up a lot of farmland.

ALBANESE: Well he has been buying options.

SPEERS: Options. Right.

ALBANESE: But it is very unclear as to whether all of the options are there. The department couldn’t really say that. The department couldn’t really say what the financial state of the company was. The department couldn’t really say what was happening with regard to the route of this and it relies upon this idea  – the whole CLARA proposal is much bigger.

SPEERS: It is. I was having a quick look at this.  He has plan for eight inland cities.

ALBANESE: Eight. That’s right.

SPEERS: Inland cities?

ALBANESE: We are in Australia’s major inland city right now. It is Canberra.

SPEERS: Yes.

ALBANESE: And there are others as well of course – Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga. Shepparton is one.

SPEERS: The guy is dreaming big though. He’s thinking big. He is thinking we can build these cities and a rail link and we’ll …

ALBANESE: Well this is Utopia after a very long night. The idea of eight cities in inland Australia where there are currently none? What people who have looked at this proposal in local government have come back with almost universally is saying: “Hang on a tick here, why don’t you do something about building up Albury-Wodonga or Canberra for that matter or Goulburn?”

SPEERS: And have the train go through?

ALBANESE: And have the train go through or on the border of. This is an idea …

SPEERS: I mean, you have been Minister. You’ve obviously had people come to you with ideas, you know: Oh we’ll build these inland cities, we’ll …

ALBANESE: I have had all sorts of …

SPEERS: Being a fan of High Speed Rail, I am sure plenty have come to you …

ALBANESE: I have seen some very ambitious plans.

SPEERS: So what’s going on here do you think?

ALBANESE: That’s what the Department has to answer, of how it is. What they did – there was a competitive bidding process. The bids included pretty sensible propositions for the Sydney-to-Canberra route, for example, that didn’t rely upon whole new cities being built. This relies upon that. It relies upon the options being there, it relies upon whole new planning mechanisms – by and large, in Australia, given how long we have seen European settlement, there is a reason why cities that have thrived and have grown are located where they are.

SPEERS: You obviously don’t think he should have been given several million dollars?

ALBANESE: No, I certainly don’t.

SPEERS: Why do you think it has happened? Are you alleging some political payoff here?

ALBANESE: I want answers to it. It is unusual that Mr Cleary is a former National Party official. Certainly there were a range of people from across the spectrum that were …

SPEERS: He’s got a few working with him, Steve Bracks I think …

ALBANESE: Resigned. Resigned from the Board. Barry O’Farrell resigned from the Board. There have been a  range of people have resigned, well before this grant was given.

SPEERS: So you think tax payers should be steering clear of this bloke?

ALBANESE: I think that if someone tells you something that you, in your guts know is too good to be true, it usually is. The fact that this project relies upon two new cities, that it goes as well – if you’re thinking about High Speed Rail and where the big population bases are, your starting point is not Shepparton, as the first High Speed route in Australia …

SPEERS: It’s a great place.

ALBANESE: It is a fantastic place, I love Shepparton. I like lots of smaller places around. The first High Speed Rail should also not be to Orange, which is also a great city in New South Wales …

SPEERS: A lovely place.

ALBANESE: … or Dalby in Queensland. It needs to be based upon populations. That is why Sydney-to-Canberra makes sense, that’s why Sydney-to-Melbourne makes sense, Sydney-to-Newcastle. Even Melbourne-to-Geelong where there is proposals, makes a lot of sense, and it would have saved Bronnie from getting her helicopter.

SPEERS: Anthony Albanese, thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

 

May 15, 2018

Media Release – Budget Infrastructure Investment is Years Away – Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Four out of five dollars announced for railways and roads in last week’s Federal Budget won’t be delivered for at least four years.

The Budget documents shows that of $19.3 billion worth of new infrastructure projects announced last week, only 1 per cent of the funding will be spent in 2018-19.

Only about 20 per cent will be invested over the next four years.

In the meantime, actual Federal infrastructure investment will fall off a cliff, from $8 billion in 2017-18 to about $4.5 billion by 2021-22.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used the pre-Budget period to mislead the electorate that he supported a range of infrastructure projects, including a rail line to the Melbourne Airport and Western Sydney Rail.

But the Budget included no money for the construction of any project over the Forward Estimates.

And in the case of the Melbourne Airport Rail, Mr Turnbull claims he will fund the project “off-budget’’, despite the fact that such accounting treatment requires that the project makes a financial return to the Budget.

The fact is public transport projects do not generate enough revenue to cover either their operational or their capital cost.

May 11, 2018

Opinion Piece – South Australia dudded again on infrastructure – The Advertiser – Friday, 11 May 2018

On Tuesday night, Scott Morrison tried to con South Australians.

Attempting to gloss over his Government’s woeful record on investing in the state’s railways and roads, the Treasurer said he would provide funding for Adelaide’s Gawler Line Electrification project.

Mr Morrison presented this investment as though it was new and that South Australians should be grateful for his generosity.

What Mr Morrison didn’t mention is this important public transport project was funded five years ago by the former Federal Labor Government.

But in 2013, the incoming Coalition Government scrapped it.

Mr Morrison’s apparent view that no-one would notice his attempt to rewrite history tells you everything you need to know about the Coalition’s treatment of infrastructure in the 2018-19 Budget.

The Budget was about spin, not substance.

Proof can be found on page 141 of Budget Paper Number 2.

It reveals that this year’s allocation for South Australian infrastructure projects is zero.

Next year is also zero, just like the subsequent three years — zero, zero and zero.

The Budget did not include a single new dollar of rail and road funding for South Australia, despite the Government producing a glossy brochure to suggest it was providing $1.8 billion in new funding.

The truth is that all of that money comes from unallocated funds set aside previously.

But the real rub is that there is no indication of when this funding will be delivered for projects like the Gawler Electrification project, the next stage of the ongoing North-South Corridor or the upgrade of the Joy Baluch Bridge at Port Augusta.

There is no funding for them over the next 12 months. And the Budget documents indicate that of this promised $1.8 billion, less than one out of ten dollars will be available over the next four years.

Of course, any infrastructure investment is welcome, given that since the Coalition was elected, it has slashed investment in everything from major rail and road projects down to small Financial Assistance Grants for local government for road maintenance.

Based on this week’s Budget papers, the Commonwealth will invest $832 million in South Australian infrastructure in 2017-18.

But that will fall off a cliff in coming years to $504 million in 2018-19 and $311 million in 2019-20.

By 2021, the South Australia will receive just $135 million in Commonwealth infrastructure investment. That is three per cent of the Budget for a state which has seven per cent of the national population.

The business community was not taken in by the spin.

In a joint statement the State’s leading industry lobby groups — the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, South Australian Freight Council, Royal Automobile Association and Civil Contractors Federation South Australia described the Budget as “a misleading, untimely and inauspicious deal for South Australia”.

The other big infrastructure news out of the Budget was confirmation of the Coalition’s inability to deliver whatever it promises to spend each year on infrastructure.

Over the Coalition’s first four budgets, the difference between infrastructure funding allocated to SA in the budget papers and the amount actually delivered is $425 million.

That includes $225 million for railways, $74 million for roads and nearly $13 million for rebuilding bridges.

The Government can’t even get it right on road safety. In its first four budgets the Coalition undertook to invest $21 million on the Black Spot Program, which delivers safety upgrades to sections of road where there have been serious accidents involving injuries or deaths. But it ended up spending $2.6 million less than promised.

Had the investment been delivered as per the undertaking, it could have funded literally dozens of extra projects, creating economic activity in regional areas but, more importantly, improving safety.

SA needs a Labor Government to deliver the railways, roads and other infrastructure it needs to boost productivity and promote jobs and growth.

This piece was published in The Adelaide Advertiser on Friday, 11 May 2018.

May 9, 2018

Media Release – Coalition Undervalues Tourism Again – Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The 2018 Budget is a missed opportunity for tourism, with the Coalition Government failing to restore the $35 million in funding it cut from Tourism Australia last year.

Investing in Tourism Australia is a no-brainer.

The fact is that every dollar spent on tourism advertising and marketing generates a return on investment of $16.

What’s more, tourism has been identified by Deloitte as one of five super growth sectors and it employs more than one million Australians.

Tourism plays a critical role in the nation’s economy and its success is underpinned by the hard work of many organisations and businesses.

The sector and the many communities whose local economies rely on tourism, deserve proper support and investment from the Government.

While the announcement of funding for regional tourism is welcome, this comes far too late.

Upon coming to office, the Coalition Government cut two of Federal Labor’s successful programs – the T-Qual Grants Programme and the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund.

These programs supported industry development by providing grants for projects that would attract both interstate and international visitors and encourage them to lengthen their stays.

Communities across the nation benefited immensely from these programs.

While the tourism sector is performing well in Australia, the fact is that a number of challenges remain including around regional dispersal and extending the average stay.

The continued success of tourism relies on a Government that supports it and the Coalition should prove it does by restoring funding to Tourism Australia.

 

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