Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
May 9, 2018

Media Release – Infrastructure Con Job Laid Bare in Budget Fine Print – Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Last night’s Budget includes no new money for infrastructure, despite the Turnbull Government’s overblown rhetoric in the days leading up to its release.

Every project announced in the Budget will be funded from previous allocations, putting the lie to weeks of pre-budget hyperbole in which the Government pretended it planned to lift investment after years of cuts.

The infrastructure Budget is a triumph of spin over substance.

It does not include one extra dollar of new investment over the Forward Estimates, a fact made clear between pages 137 and 144 in Budget Paper Number 2.

Indeed, Commonwealth infrastructure grants to the states will fall in each of the next four years from the promised $8 billion in 2017-18 to $4.5 billion in 2021-22.

This confirms research by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, which has warned that Commonwealth infrastructure investment over the next decade will fall from 0.4 per cent of GDP to 0.2 per cent.

The Budget documents also highlight Malcolm Turnbull’s extraordinary level of deceit in recent weeks as he attempted to fool Australians about his actual investment intentions.

For example, last month Malcolm Turnbull promised he would invest $5 billion building a train line from Melbourne to the Tullamarine Airport.

In fact, the Budget allocated no money to this project.

Instead, the Government confirmed it wants to fund the project off-budget – a funding method it knows will not work for an urban rail project because it will not provide the required financial return to the Budget.

Similarly, in March Mr Turnbull said he would invest in a Western Sydney Rail line to Badgerys Creeks as part of his Western Sydney City Deal.

But last night’s Budget included no money to build the railway line, just $50 million to prepare a business case.

The Budget documents also showed that in 2017-18, the Government failed to deliver the infrastructure funding it promised in last year’s Budget, continuing its ongoing record of non-delivery.

Over the Coalition’s first four budgets, the difference between the amount the Government promised to invest and what it has actually delivered is $4.7 billion.

 

 

May 8, 2018

Opinion Piece – Anthony Albanese: The one thing to look out for in this Budget – Tuesday, 8 May 2018

AMERICAN shyster Charles Ponzi famously used fraudulent accounting and slick narrative to sustain a mirage of activity and report positive financial returns to investors, who later lost all their money.

The 2018 Federal Budget is talking a big infrastructure game, but indications are it will have more to do with Charles Ponzi than delivering real infrastructure projects or economic productivity.

American shyster Charles Ponzi

Since taking office, the Federal Coalition Government has gone to great lengths to create a mirage of infrastructure investment without actually providing direct funding.

Instead it has used mechanisms like equity funding and talk of “innovative’’ financing to create the false narrative that we can meet our infrastructure needs without having a short-term fiscal impact.

But let me explain a few realities about infrastructure.

Infrastructure cannot pay for itself.

Either governments pay by allocating taxpayer’s money in their budgets; or else users pay via electricity bills or motorway tolls, for example.

Capital city rail systems need taxpayer funds from the Budget.

Capital city rail systems need taxpayer funds. Picture: Brendan Esposito

This is because the payment of fares by commuters usually covers less than half of the operating costs and recovers none of the construction cost.

In the same way, most city, regional and local roads are not tolled, so they can only be funded from government budgets.

Thankfully, in Australia we do not charge patients or school kids for admission to public hospitals and schools. That means the money to pay for new and expanded public hospitals and schools can only come as a grant, from government budgets.

While some of these projects might be delivered through a public-private partnership with private investors, they are repaid for their investment by payments from a government budget.

Infrastructure is built only when state or Federal governments either write a cheque themselves, or allow someone else to directly recover the cost and profit from users.

In short, infrastructure is not free. Because the right projects boost productivity and economic growth, they produce a long-term return to the government, but one that is not hypothecated or direct.

Malcolm Turnbull has been promoting the infrastructure spend in this Budget. Picture: Peter Rae

Good projects are also good for sustainability and liveability.

So what do Charles Ponzi and the Turnbull Government’s infrastructure agenda have to do with each other? Each relies on accounting tricks and narrative to mask reality.

Last year, the Turnbull Government took the razor to infrastructure investment.

According to the peak industry body Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the 2017 Budget slashed “real budgeted capital funding to its lowest level in more than a decade.”

But rather than be honest about it, the Turnbull Government expanded its clever accounting and slick narrative, glossing over its infrastructure cuts with an illusion of activity.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will hand down the Budget tonight. Picture Kym Smith

This approach was exemplified by the off-budget accounting for Inland Rail as an equity injection, in spite of clear and unequivocal advice the project is certain to not pay for itself.

This was capped off by the creation of a new ‘Infrastructure Financing Unit’, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, that would “work with Commonwealth Agencies, the private sector, states and territories on funding and financing opportunities such as public private partnerships, concessional loans, equity injections and value capture.”

A year on the IFU has started no new projects and there are none on the radar.

It no longer reports directly to the Prime Minister or even to a cabinet minister.

Instead it functions as a kind of internal management consultant.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese. Picture: Daniel Munoz

The earlier Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility also shows the illusory value of

‘innovative’ government finance.

At the time of its creation, the Government claimed the NAIF would provide $5 billion of taxpayer’s loans to infrastructure projects critical “to fast tracking growth and unlocking the north’s economic potential.”

Sensibly, NAIF included protections to stop taxpayers being a ‘lender of last resort’

to marginal projects that would fail.

NAIF was a triumph of illusion over reality. It has funded bureaucrats and board

meetings in southern capital cities but not new projects.

It is seen as the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

You can only play tricks once or twice before people catch on; as the saying goes ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.

A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister announced a supposed $5 billion for a Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

Close scrutiny should be applied to whether this announcement has a corresponding $5 billion in the accounts on Tuesday night.

Will we see funding for the Western Sydney Rail? Picture: Dean Lewins

Instead, it will likely be referred to as an offer of ‘equity’, ‘investment’, ‘partnership’, or some other fancy term.

The same goes for the much-needed Western Sydney Rail, connecting the new airport along the north-south corridor at the centre of the Western Sydney City Deal.

It is unclear whether this project will attract a real funding commitment.

If infrastructure needed nothing more than a cheap taxpayer loan, it would be easy and Australia wouldn’t have struggled with infrastructure for a more than a century.

To pretend otherwise is either dishonest, or delusional.Metro rail in our cities, safer roads and modern hospitals and schools only happen when the Federal Government is willing to put real money, not infrastructure Ponzi schemes, on the table.

Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Infrastructure Minister

This piece was originally published in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, 8 May 2018

May 7, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Townsville, Queensland – Monday, 7 May 2018

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
TOWNSVILLE
MONDAY, 7 MAY, 2018

Subjects: Budget, infrastructure, tax cuts, Labour Day.

CATHY O’TOOLE, MEMBER FOR HERBERT: It’s great to have Anthony Albanese here with us today, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Tourism and Transport. Very clearly in Townsville we want to see a Budget that includes infrastructure. And that infrastructure for us is about long-term water security, hydro-electricity in the Burdekin Falls Dam and the expansion of the port – three critical infrastructure projects that Labor has committed to and we want to see that evident in the Budget that will be handed down tomorrow. But I will hand over to Anthony to fill you in in the broader infrastructure issues.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be back in Townsville, the capital of the north. The fact is that tomorrow’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to actually match its rhetoric with some real funding, When we were last in Government we did the Townsville Ring Road, we did the Douglas Arterial, we did the approaches north and south to Cairns. We invested in infrastructure. Indeed, we more than doubled the infrastructure budget here in North Queensland.

This Government has had a lot of rhetoric but they have been prepared to go along and open projects that were begun by the former Labor Government, such as the Ring Road. But they haven’t put the actual investment in and when it comes to issues like the Port Channel widening, this is a vital issue. This is about increasing our trade. This is about improving our national position in terms of maximising the benefit of that trade right here in Townsville. The fact is that this Government’s only significant investment is of course the money for the stadium that they got dragged kicking and screaming to after more than a year after Labor committed to that project. And then they called it a City Deal. Well, the fact is that an actual City Deal would have a comprehensive plan of funding.

Tomorrow night’s Budget will be an opportunity nationally as well for the Government to actually invest in infrastructure with real dollars for real projects in real time. What we have seen so far from the Government leaks is repetition of rhetoric rather than actual achievement – the sort of rhetoric that we saw two years ago with the creation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the NAIF, which is really known now as the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

Years later not a single project for Queensland has been funded out of that facility, a big fanfare, a big $5 billion figure, not meaning anything at all and we are seeing that replicated with projects and announcements like Melbourne Rail to the airport which they are saying would be an equity injection, rather than an actual grant.

We are seeing it in terms of Western Sydney Rail through to the new airport, where they say that they support that project, but the fact is that $50 million for a business case means in actual fact zero dollars for actual construction of that rail line that should be under way right now so that it can open prior to the airport. Right across the nation whether it be here in Townsville in Northern Australia, or in our capital cities or in our regions, this is a Government that has masked its cut to infrastructure with rhetoric.

Its infrastructure budget was due to be in 2020-21 just $4.2 billion and it was due to decline over the decade, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, which is independent, to 0.2 per cent from 0.4 per cent as a percentage of our national GDP – to be cut in half. So they have a lot of catching up to do. We await tomorrow night’s Budget to see whether it delivers, not just here in Townsville but right around the nation.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the Government have just come out this morning and touted their infrastructure credentials, saying that it will be the focus of this Budget. Are you confident of that? They have announced a pretty big figure.

ALBANESE: Well they announce lots of figures that aren’t real. One of the things that they have done as a government is to, instead of talking about the four-year Budget forward estimates, they have talked about over ten years and they have also included funding for things like the NAIF – $5 billion. I leave it to people in North Queensland but right across northern Australia to judge what benefit has there been from that $5 billion announcement that isn’t in tomorrow night’s Budget, wasn’t in last year’s, but was in the year before. So we now have, more than two years since that announcement, not a single project for Queensland.

So big figures are fine, but if they don’t actually lead to construction and actual infrastructure, then they mean absolutely nothing and that shows the failure of this Government because that Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is flawed. It is for loans, not for grants. The truth is that if private sector projects are viable and will produce a return on investment, then they don’t need a loan from the Government. There is plenty of capital and loans available to the private sector for good infrastructure projects that produce a return right now. What government can do is to facilitate projects and to invest in projects that make a difference to the national economy.

One of those is of course the Townsville Port Channel widening. The others are the water projects and the energy projects that have been identified here in North Queensland that Labor has committed to. What we will be looking for tomorrow night is the difference between the actual investment that is occurring and the Government’s rhetoric and we will be looking very closely at that and whether there is actual benefit from the announcements that have been made.

And I refer you as well to the front page story about Western Sydney Rail through to the airport, a grand signing of a document between all the mayors in western Sydney and the Commonwealth and State governments. You couldn’t fit all the politicians in the screen and yet what we know now is that all there is $50 million for a business case. Well why wasn’t the business case done already? The business case largely has been identified through the studies that have been done into Badgerys Creek Airport. So the gap is there between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality.

What the Australian economy needs is actual road projects, actual rail projects that are ready to go. Here in Queensland of course the Cross River Rail Project is ready to go. Labor has committed or recommitted funding to that project. That was a project that was funded by the former Labor Government and Campbell Newman’s Government and had that funding withdrawn and as a result has been delayed for years. Now that is a project that is a pre-condition for the project where they have announced some funding for rail further north towards the Sunshine Coast. But if you don’t do Cross River Rail you can’t do the Sunshine Coast project because it is essential to build the capacity not just for Brisbane but for the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the Government are arguing that the Port of Townsville is a state-owned asset, it generates profit and that instead of paying dividends to its shareholders – the Treasury, those profits should be redirected back into the Port expansion. What do you make of that?

ALBANESE: Well this is a Government that has a terrible record when it comes to ports. In tomorrow night’s Budget they will announce the final mile from Mascot through to Port Botany of the project that they cut when they came to office in 2013 and they will pretend it is a new project. What it is is a project that has been delayed for five years and has therefore seen increased costs to the taxpayer as a result of that cut. Of course we know in the Port of Darwin it has been flogged off, allowed for by the Coalition Federal Government, to overseas interests clearly against Australia’s national interests and here in Townsville they are not acknowledging the contribution that the port makes to the national economy. Now the Government, the Federal Government, gets a dividend from boosts in exports and boosts to the national economy. They should put some of that back through the channel widening. This is a project that is ready to proceed. It’s a project in which Labor has committed and the Government should commit funding to it tomorrow night.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, foreshadowed tax cuts in the Budget. Would there be any circumstances where Labor would oppose them?

ALBANESE: Well we will wait and see what is in tomorrow’s Budget. But what we know is that since 1980 if you actually look at taxes as a proportion of the GDP, the political party that is the high-tax party is the Liberal-National Party Coalition. They are the party that have presided over increases in taxes. Labor will examine any proposals that are there in the Budget tomorrow and make our announcements when we do a Budget reply on Thursday or at some stage before the election. But one thing is very clear – Labor has got more policy out at this stage of the electoral cycle than any Opposition in living memory. We have out there clearly outlined our policies on changes to the imputation, on changes to capital gains and negative gearing for investment properties, on changes to the amount of tax that can be written off for accountants’ fees. We have got that out there in a very transparent manner and we will be very transparent about all of our tax policies prior to the election.

I’m proud to have great honour of speaking at the May Day march here in Townsville. May Day is a day in which we recognise and celebrate the fact that all of the gains that have been made for working people have been made through the trade union movement and through collective action. Measures such as the shorter working week, penalty rates, leave for holidays, wage increases, occupational health and safety. All of those issues have been dealt with as a result of the actions that we celebrate today.

Today is also a reminder that the work is not done. We see attacks on penalty rates, we see real wages declining for the first time in decades. So today is a day to once again recommit to actually making sure the economy works for people, not the other way around. Economic growth is to benefit working Australians. We are not seeing that at the moment. What we are seeing is a Government that has produced ideological attacks on trade unions and on workers. They are seeking to undermine the superannuation industry, seeking to undermine penalty rates, to reduce working conditions of working Australians and today we are celebrating the gains of the past but also committing ourselves to have further gains into the future.

O’TOOLE: Once again here on Labour Day we can see a great crowd of people coming together. Here in Townsville we have the highest rate in the state of $53 million in unpaid or underpaid superannuation. For us that is over 22,500 residents, That is completely unacceptable. Labour Day is about celebrating the past and the achievements of the past, but it is also about how do we take up the fight for these battles – wage theft, privatisation, cuts to penalty rates, working conditions, simply unacceptable to the workers of Townsville, where we also see a high unemployment rate for young people and our general population.

The unions have worked incredibly hard to deliver us probably some of the best working conditions in the world and they are being eroded by this Turnbull Government and that must stop. The people in this community will not tolerate their wages and conditions being further reduced and cut. Also we will not tolerate cuts to jobs and cuts to services particularly when we look at the aged care industry and the national disgrace that that is at the moment. So there is a lot of work to be done and the people in this community stand proudly today on Labour Day to support our union movement and say thank you for the hard work that they have delivered since the 1850s.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 7 MAY, 2018

May 7, 2018

Opinion Piece – Let’s Make Our Rail Challenge an Opportunity – Monday, 7 May 2018

Great challenges often bring great opportunities.

In the next few decades, Australia faces the difficult challenge of upgrading public transport services in our cities to tackle traffic congestion.

Bringing our nation’s passenger rail services into the 21st century is an essential investment in future economic growth, in addition to being vital for improving liveability in our cities.

We have no choice. According to the Bureau of Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Economics, traffic congestion is already costing the economy about $16 billion a year in lost productivity.

The good news is meeting our public transport needs comes with an opportunity to revitalise our manufacturing sector by building the necessary rolling stock – trains and trams – here in Australia, rather than sourcing them offshore.

In coming years, states will roll out projects including the Melbourne metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, the Perth METRONET, the Western Sydney Rail and the Melbourne Airport Rail. Then there is the Inland Rail freight link from Brisbane to Melbourne, and, potentially, the High Speed Rail Link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Canberra and Sydney.

These services will require at least 1100 new trains and trams in the next three decades.

According to the most-recent census, between 2011 and 2016, the number of jobs in Australian manufacturing fell by 24 per cent to about 680,000.

The expansion of rail provides a chance to reverse this trend and create thousands of new, well-paid jobs, including apprenticeships for young people.

That’s why the next Labor Government will create a National Rail Industry Plan – a blueprint for co-operation between governments, businesses and unions in the national interest.

The Plan will support Australian manufacturers to access rail industry work while optimising training opportunities for young people and building up local industry’s capacity via research and development.

But the starting point should be an acceptance that when it comes to buying trains and trams, cheapest is not necessarily best.

While overseas manufacturers might offer lower prices, building rolling stock here has broader community benefits, like jobs, that must be built into any cost comparison.

Consider some recent examples.

In 2014 the Coalition Newman conservative State Government in Queensland arranged to pay a German company with manufacturing facilities in India $4.4 billion for new carriages associated with an expansion of suburban passenger services in Brisbane.

There were few local jobs beyond maintenance roles.

But the Victorian Labor State Government is investing $2.3 billion to build 65 seven-car trains in Victoria as part of its program to improve its passenger rail service.

It is being delivered by the Andrews Government in partnership with private consortium Evolution Rail, creating 1100 jobs in Victoria.

That includes 100 apprenticeships – 100 young people earning a wage while learning skills that will last them a lifetime.

This is the sort of investment Labor would aim to promote under a rail industry plan.

It will include investment in research and development, including universities and research agencies so that, as we build trains here, we are developing our capacity to reduce costs and improve quality.

It would set guidelines for collaboration between government, industry and the training providers to ensure apprentices are taught the skills needed for the industry to prosper.

Critically, it would promote co-operation between states.

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.

We should 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.

Key features of Labor’s plan include:

  • Tying Federal investment in rail projects to objectives including work being undertaken in Australia.
  • Establishing the Office of National Industry Co-ordination top undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains nationally.
  • Reinstating the Rail Supplier Advocate, abolished by the Coalition in 2013, to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify export opportunities and link with Government purchasing bodies.
  • Establishing a Rail Industry Council to prevent loss of more jobs and address the need for more local research and development.

A key element of the plan is to seek to create certainty for manufacturers by ironing out the peaks and troughs in market demand through better co-ordination on procurement between state governments.

If every state government orders a new fleet of trains at the same time, local industry cannot deliver. Better coordination of tenders would allow for a steady stream of work that could sustain and indeed grow the local industry.

Our National Rail Industry Plan will also target job creation in regional Australia.

In the 21st century, there are two sure-fire ways to generate economic growth – investing in infrastructure to lift capacity and boost productivity, and investing in people through education and training.

A National Rail Industry Plan can address both.

This piece was first published in the Herald Sun on Monday, 7 May 2018

May 7, 2018

Media Release – Coalition Must Invest in North Queensland – Monday, 7 May 2018

The Coalition Government must use tomorrow’s Federal Budget to deliver real infrastructure investment for North Queensland following the failure of its Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF).

Three years after it was first announced, the NAIF has not delivered a single dollar of funding for a single project in North Queensland. A more appropriate name would be the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

In fact, every major infrastructure project which has been completed in recent years or is currently under construction across North Queensland was funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

Indeed, it was only after substantial pressure was placed on the Government that they belatedly matched Labor’s commitment to Townsville Stadium.

An elected Federal Labor Government will build on its record of investment by delivering $75 million for the Townsville Port Channel Widening project, increasing import and export opportunities.

This project will boost the local economy, create at least 120 construction jobs and 60 ongoing jobs for locals, and more than 200 additional jobs across the state. It will also create a $580 million economic dividend.

The Townsville Port Channel Widening project is part of Labor’s Plan for Real Jobs in Regional Queensland.

Townsville will also benefit from Federal Labor’s $1 billion Northern Australian Tourism Fund which will boost partnerships with the tourism sector and provide incentives for investment in new and upgraded tourism infrastructure across the north.

The former Federal Labor Government made a record investment in Townsville’s road network, which included:

•    Duplication of the Bruce Highway south of Townsville;

•    Construction of the new Townsville Port Access Road;

•    Built the fourth and final section of Townsville’s Ring Road;

•    Douglas Arterial Duplication

When the Treasurer rises to deliver the Budget tomorrow he must ensure it includes real money for real projects in North Queensland.
MONDAY, 7 MAY 2018 

May 4, 2018

Opinion Piece – People Power Wins Reform on Craft Beer – Friday, 4 May 2018

Imagine if the rate of GST you paid on buy milk or fruit juice varied according to the size of its container.

Just say you bought milk in a two litre bottle with a GST rate of 10%, but the rate was 20% for a 1 litre bottle.

Consumers wouldn’t accept this. Tax systems should be fair.

That’s why it is great news that Tuesday’s Budget will reform excise arrangements relating to the sale of beer in Australia.

The reforms will address the fact that the existing system taxes brewers unequally and is inhibiting growth of the craft beer industry in comparison to big breweries.

Under existing arrangements, if you produce beer in a 50 litre keg, the rate of excise that applies is the less than that applying to the same beer in a 30 litre keg.

This is unfair to craft brewers who tend to sell their product in smaller kegs, particularly when supplying small restaurants and bars in their local communities.

This is ridiculous. It adds to the price of craft beers.

With craft breweries popping up all over the country, including in regional areas, governments should be promoting the industry for the jobs it is creating for Australians.

For more than two years I have been working with craft brewers, particularly in my electorate of Grayndler, to campaign for excise reform.

We collected more than 1,400 signatures for a petition to Parliament.

And when my colleague Joel Fitzgibbon and I raised the need for change in Parliament last year, our motion attracted support across the political divide.

That’s why I am so pleased that Treasurer Scott Morrison has seen the common sense in our push and says he will level the excise playing field in the Budget.

The Budget will also allow craft brewers to claim rebates for some of the excise they pay, which will have an even greater effect in promoting equity.

This is a victory for common sense and for people power. The changes will be welcomed by craft brewers and drinkers.

But more importantly, they will boost the national economy.

There are at least 400 craft breweries in Australia, many of them in regional areas. All of them create jobs for locals.

Craft beer is a growth sector. We should be promoting that growth because it will lead to the creation of more jobs and more economic activity.

The old system was also holding back the growth of craft beer as a tourist attraction.

In the same way that wine enthusiasts enjoy touring wine-producing regions to taste the product at the cellar door, craft beer aficionados like to visit breweries.

In NSW alone, dozens of craft beer tours are available, including in my electorate, where Dave’s Brewery Tours offers a six-hour tour that includes lunch in a local pub and visits to three local breweries drawn from establishments like Wayward, Rocks, Grifter, Batch, Willie the Boatman, Akasha and Young Henry’s.

Craft beer tours are also thriving in regional areas like the Hunter Valley, the Illawarra, Gold Coast/Byron Bay, the Mornington Peninsula and the Margaret River – communities that are always looking for new ways to attract visitors and create new jobs.

We must get behind this new tourism sector.

Indeed, most state tourism bodies are promoting craft brewery tourism. The Queensland Government is creating a formal craft brewing strategy to help promote jobs growth.

Even Austrade, the Federal Government’s trade promotion arm, is in on the act, encouraging craft brewers to seek markets in Asia and promoting the industry’s export potential on its websites.

One ever-present feature of life in the 21st century is that the pace of change is always accelerating.

That requires Governments to be alert to the emergence of new industries and to remove unnecessary obstacles to their growth.

The rise of the Australian craft beer industry has been rapid.

In only a decade or so it has grown from humble beginnings into a multi-billion dollar business that is revitalising communities and creating jobs around the nation.

It is very good that the Federal Government is moving to keep up.

This piece was first published in The Big Smoke on Friday, 4 April, 2018: [https://bit.ly/2w83YQE] 

FRIDAY, 4 APRIL, 2018

May 4, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Willie the Boatman, Sydney – Friday, 4 May 2018

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
SYDNEY – WILLIE THE BOATMAN BREWERY
FRIDAY, 4 MAY, 2018

Subjects: National Rail Plan, craft beer.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This morning in Melbourne, Bill Shorten, the Labor Leader, announced our National Rail Plan. This is an important plan to keep jobs here in Australia. What we know is that right around the country we’ve had train sets purchased, for light rail here in Sydney, that don’t match up; for heavy rail here in Sydney where the trains are too long or too wide for the platform and the tunnels. We have had similar occurrences from trains that have been purchased for the rail sector in Queensland. We can do better than that and Labor’s plan for national rail is about keeping manufacturing here. The Government acknowledges that the defence industry is important for maintaining jobs and skills here and a manufacturing base. Rail is exactly the same and the fact that this policy is supported by industry, by unions, by the freight sector and logistics sector – it is something that should be in the Government’s Budget next week.

Something that is in the Government’s Budget next week that we know about is reform when it comes to craft beer and this has been a great victory by the team behind me here and craft breweries right around Australia. There are over 400 craft breweries around Australia. They are small businesses. They employ local people. They bring communities together. They are a focal point for their communities. The people who go into the craft brewing industry are small business owners. They are not people who make a hell of a lot of money. Sometimes they don’t make much at all. What they do though, is bring communities together, employ local people and boost local economies.

It’s not just direct either. Behind us we also have Dave from Dave’s Brewery Tours. You have to wait a few weeks to get on to one of the tours here in the Inner West of Sydney, but they are also expanding out to Newcastle and into other parts of New South Wales and Australia.

This has been a strong campaign. It’s a campaign in which we have had motions in Parliament, petitions collected by brewers right around Australia and it is just about a fair go.

When people understood that your local craft brewery wasn’t able to get the same treatment as big foreign owned brewers, they knew that wasn’t fair and the fact is that the equalisation, making sure that the same tax applies regardless of whether a keg is 50 litres or 30 litres or 40 litres, will mean that those quality products that craft breweries produce will be taxed at the same treatment.

In addition to that, increasing the rebate from $30,000 to $100,000 will make an enormous difference. It will mean that these employers put on more local people right around the country. One of the things about the craft brewing sector is that it isn’t just in areas like the Inner West of Sydney, although I happen to think this is the best place. It is right around the country, right around regional Australia. Every regional town just about now has a craft brewery. They are employing local people. They are bringing people to that local town. They are producing quite distinctive product. And so this is a great day for people power. It is a day on which I have already had a discussion with the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, and said that this is a good thing that will happen in next Tuesday’s Budget and I want to thank all those who campaigned.  We have had probably half a dozen of these press conferences hosted at the local brewers who are here and here we have Willie the Boatman, we’ve got Shark Island, we’ve got Batch, we’ve got Yullies, we’ve got Wayward, we’ve got the people from Sydney Beer Week, Young Henrys, Rocks Brewing, Bucket Boys. We’ve got a great collection here.

But wherever you go, whether it is in the suburbs or the regional towns of Australia, people will be having a quiet one tonight and having it at a cheaper rate once this change comes through. So congratulations to everyone. This is a great industry and this measure will ensure will ensure that it grows, employs more people and helps to build the community. I think a couple of the team wanted to have something today.

PAT McINERNEY, WILLIE THE BOATMAN BREWERY: Thanks Albo. This is a really good day for small business in Australia. The $70,000 that we get from our excise rebate will mean that my business partner and I will be able to invest more in equipment and hire a lot more people and all of our employees come from our local area. So this is a great day. This is something that Anthony has worked closely with us on and really championed it. So cheers to Albo.

DAN HAMPTON, YOUNG HENRYS: We are from young Henry’s. We’ve been around for about six years. We know the challenges and we have been watching people work really hard to have a voice and so I think more than anything this is a good step toward the craft beer scene in Australia having a voice. We hire over 80 people in the local community here and so being able to put back to those staff, being able to put back to the community – we do lots with arts and music – to do all these things is huge. It’s very good news to wake up to.

ALBANESE: I think this is one of the only times or perhaps the only time I am going to get to have a beer at a press conference. It is after 12.  Cheers!

[ENDS]

FRIDAY, 4 MAY, 2018

 

May 4, 2018

Media Release – Victory for People Power … and Beer – Friday, 4 May 2018

Labor welcomes news of excise tax reform to end discrimination against brewers of craft beer, a move that follows a long-running Labor campaign for justice for the thriving sector.

Media reports today suggest that Tuesday’s Budget will end the situation whereby excise applied to 50 litre kegs is levied at a lower rate than that applied to smaller kegs, which are widely used by craft brewers.

The reform will also reportedly give small brewers access to the same system of excise refunds available to big breweries.

The common sense change is a victory for people power.

It follows a strong campaign by Labor and the craft brewing industry which included a petition signed by more than 1400 people and a motion in the House of Representatives that received bipartisan support.

Craft brewing is a growth sector.

New breweries are being established across the nation and the development of the sector has also created a new tourism sector – craft brewery tours.

That means jobs and economic activity in local communities.

Craft brewers deserve to operate on a level playing field with the big multinational beer brands. And beer drinkers should pay the same regardless of what brand of beer they enjoy.

I congratulate the craft beer industry for its victory and look forward to this change clearing the way for even more new jobs and economic activity, particularly in my electorate in Sydney’s Inner West, home to some of the nation’s best breweries.

 

 

May 1, 2018

Media Release – Infrastructure Australia Must Be Truly Independent – Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Labor is increasingly concerned that the Turnbull Government is interfering with the independence of Infrastructure Australia.

The former Labor Government created Infrastructure Australia in 2008 to independently assess whether rail, road and other projects being considered for Federal funding represent value for money.

The organisation was designed to operate at arm’s length from Government.

Yesterday Infrastructure Australia belatedly released a positive assessment of the long-proposed next section of Adelaide’s North-South Corridor, from Regency Rd to Pym St.

This was released at the very same time the Government was dropping a story to the Adelaide Advertiser that it would provide funding for the project.

While Labor welcomes the long-overdue Adelaide investment, the timing of its release to suit the Government’s media strategy indicates political considerations are clouding Infrastructure Australia’s independence.

The South Australian Government submitted the business case for this project to Infrastructure Australia on June 22 last year – more than ten months ago. There have been persistent calls, including by myself when I visited Adelaide in November, to get moving on the project.

The Federal Coalition Government delayed the approval, advocated strongly by former South Australian Government, until after the South Australian election.

Labor will use upcoming Senate Budget Estimates hearings to examine the simultaneous timing of the release of the assessment and Government’s funding announcement.

I have also expressed concern that in spite of the fact that Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Project was identified by Infrastructure Australia as a priority project in 2012, and was subsequently funded with Commonwealth and Queensland Government agreement in 2013, once the Federal Government changed, so too did Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of this project.

Australia needs increased infrastructure investment after five years of Coalition cuts.

But it also needs a completely independent process that assesses projects promptly, not according to the political agenda of the Government of the day.
 

Apr 27, 2018

Media Release – Is Desperate Turnbull Still Dudding WA on GST? – Friday, 27 April 2018

Nearly two years after Turnbull’s broken promise to fix WA’s GST shortfall, today’s announcement falls short.

After taking WA for granted and refusing to visit for 170 days, he is desperately trying to play catch-up on the eve of an election.

Making an announcement at five minutes to midnight because an election is around the corner doesn’t make up for five years of neglect.

Turnbull must clarify immediately how much of this money is just general infrastructure funding that the Commonwealth owes Western Australia, and he must be honest about when the money will be paid.

Western Australia deserves additional funding over and above general infrastructure payments, and they deserve it now – that’s what Labor is offering.

Anything less than funding equivalent to 70 cents in the dollar just is not good enough.

Will Western Australians have to wait five years and two elections for new infrastructure? Why would anyone trust Turnbull to deliver?

In contrast, a Shorten Labor Government will bring WA up to the equivalent of 70 cents in our first budget – and boost infrastructure investment with an extra $1.6 billion over just two years.

Labor has worked hard in WA, listening to locals and working with McGowan Government. Our infrastructure projects will build roads, rail lines and train stations, and open new hospital beds. These projects will create 16,000 new jobs for Western Australians.

Bill Shorten has spent more than 60 days in WA since the last election, holding town hall meetings and outlining our plans for new jobs and infrastructure.

For Turnbull, WA is just a stop-over state on his way home. Western Australians deserve better than this desperate election eve ploy.

He doesn’t care about Western Australia – if he did, he would deliver 70 cents in the dollar straight away, instead of a dud deal.

Labor has committed to the following projects from the Fair Share for WA Fund:

  • $83 million for the Midland Train Station and extension of Midland train line to Bellevue, creating 280 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $64 million for the Extension of the Stephenson Avenue in the City of Stirling, creating 850 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $108 million commitment to expanding the Mitchell Freeway to Romeo Rd, creating 875 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $240.5 million to extend the Armadale line to Byford, creating over 3000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $154 million to a new 75 bed mental health unit at the Joondalup health campus, creating 2000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $700 million commitment to build the Morley-Ellenbrook line, creating 9000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • $47 million for the Leach Highway /Welshpool Road Intersection upgrade, creating 375 direct and indirect jobs.

 

 

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