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

Media Release – Labor commits $60 million to Bass Highway Upgrade – Saturday, 9 June 2018

A Federal Labor Government will invest $60 million to upgrade key sections of the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Marrawah to improve safety for locals and visitors to the region.

Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Bass Highway was a critical piece of economic and social infrastructure for North West Tasmania and traffic volumes were on the increase.

“As well as carrying a million tonnes of freight each year worth $1 billion, this road is also critical to the state’s thriving tourism industry,” Mr Albanese said.

“But it needs investment now.”

The package of works will include re-engineering of the highway through areas like Brittons Swamp, road widening, construction of new overtaking lanes and safety improvements at critical intersections. The final set of projects will be prioritised in consultation with the State Government, Circular Head Council and the local community.

Funding will begin flowing during Federal Labor’s first year in office.

Labor candidate for Braddon Justine Keay said today’s announcement was the culmination of a community campaign led by Circular Head Council, local school bus operator Kimbra Wells, from Wells Wagons, and the wider community.

“I have been pleased to support that campaign.  I have raised the issue in the Parliament, launched a community petition and advocated to all sides of politics,” Ms Keay said.

“Labor’s funding will make the highway much safer, and to use Kimbra Wells’ own words, ‘We just want the road fixed, not repaired’.

“Labor’s funding will make this happen.”

Labor Senator for Tasmania Anne Urquhart said it was time for the Liberals to provide some certainty on road funding, rather than constant contradictions.

“Labor’s funding commitment provides absolute certainty to the people of the North West regarding the funding envelope available to upgrade the Bass Highway west of Wynyard,” said Senator Urquhart.

“That is in stark contrast to the Liberals, who have no firm figure on what they will make available to Tasmania’s far North West.”

Mr Albanese also said after five years in office, the Federal Coalition had failed to commence work on a single new major infrastructure project anywhere in Tasmania – and discovered the Bass Highway only when a by-election was in the offing.

“What’s more, a close look at this year’s Budget papers reveals that the Turnbull Government is planning to cut investment in Tasmania’s road and rail infrastructure by 30 per cent from $164 million this financial year (2017-18) to $116 million in 2020-21,” Mr Albanese said.

“By contrast, the former Federal Labor Government made record investment in Tasmania, which included targeted upgrades to the Midland Highway and an extensive modernisation of its rail freight network.

“All up, we almost doubled annual investment from $157 to $264 per Tasmanian,” he said.

Jun 5, 2018

Media Release – Federal Infrastructure Pushed Off Into the Never Never – Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Turnbull Government’s latest Budget failed to make any investment in Brisbane’s much-needed Cross River Rail, a transformative project that will unlock South East Queensland’s passenger rail network and deliver more trains, more often for commuters.

That’s why today I reaffirmed Federal Labor’s commitment to invest $2.24 billion of Federal funding to deliver this project in partnership with the Queensland Government if elected at the coming election.

I provided this assurance during a visit to Kippa-Ring Station, one of the six new railway stations built as part of the Redcliffe Rail Line.  First promised more than a century ago in 1895, this new line was finally delivered with investment from the former Federal Labor Government.

But importantly, this was just one of many infrastructure projects we funded in Queensland the last time we were in government. The others included Legacy Way, the Gateway North Upgrade, the widening and upgrading of the Ipswich Motorway, and the Gold Coast Light Rail.

We also made a record investment in the Bruce Highway.

All up, we more than doubled annual investment in the State’s infrastructure from $143 to $314 per Queenslander.

This record of real money for real projects that are now making a real difference stands in stark contrast to the Turnbull Government’s latest Budget, which was a triumph of spin over substance.

Indeed, ninety per cent of the Federal infrastructure funding allocated to Queensland in last month’s Budget will not be invested for at least four years.

This means the delivery of projects such as the upgrades to the Bruce Highway between Pine Rivers and Caloundra, the M1 Upgrade and duplication of the North Coast Line, is off on the Never Never.

Queenslanders waiting for the extra rail and road funding promised in the days leading up to the 2018 Budget will have to re-elect the Coalition not once, but twice more before the bulk of the money flows.

This is simply absurd.

As a fast growing, decentralised state, Queensland needs investment in job creating, productivity enhancing infrastructure projects now, not years from now.

As well as postponing vital investment until years down the track, the Turnbull Government also lacks the ability to translate its past promises into bulldozers on work sites. The fact is the difference between what they promised to invest in the State’s infrastructure over their first four budgets and what was actually spent, amounts to $1.1 billion.

Only Labor is committed to delivering the infrastructure Queensland needs.

 

Jun 4, 2018

Media Release – Labor Will Apply New Public Interest Conditions to Infrastructure Grants – Monday, 4 June, 2018

A Labor Government will place more conditions on Federal infrastructure grants to States and Territories to secure public interest outcomes such as more training of apprentices and better work opportunities for mid-tier construction firms.

Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese told today’s Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit in Sydney that the role of Infrastructure Australia would be expanded under Labor Government with new conditions addressing areas like procurement, training and sustainability.

Mr Albanese said it was a common complaint in the construction industry that contracts for big rail and road projects were so large that mid-tier building companies found it difficult to bid.

“I would encourage states and territories to work with industry to craft creative procurement plans that spread the benefit of major government contracts more evenly across the infrastructure sector,’’ he said.

“As a bonus, there is no shortage of evidence to suggest that greater involvement of mid-tier construction companies leads to savings to the public purse by fostering greater competition.’’

In the same way, states seeking federal infrastructure grants would be required demonstrate plans to use major public projects as opportunities to train more apprentices.

They would also be required to demonstrate that, where appropriate, designs for new roads incorporate smart technology such as variable speed limits, smooth entry points, variable speed limits, and lane directional changes.

States would also be required to demonstrate that they had ensured that new railways and roads were properly linked with active transport options like walking paths and cycling racks.

“Better planning delivers better outcomes,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“Through the Infrastructure Australia process, we have an opportunity to improve the quality of project planning to achieve outcomes that better meet the expectations and requirements of both the public and business community.’’

MONDAY, 4 JUNE, 2018

May 31, 2018

Opinion Piece – Infrastructure Funny Money won’t get Projects Built – Thursday, 31 May, 2018

by Anthony Albanese

When it comes to infrastructure, budget 2018 was a triumph of spin over substance.

In the lead-up to the budget’s delivery, the Turnbull government pretended it was about to deliver “an infrastructure budget“, telling journalists it would fund projects like Western Sydney Rail and Melbourne Airport Rail.

While the “leaks” attracted front-page newspaper coverage in Sydney and Melbourne, the actual budget included no money for construction of either project.

In fact, the budget did not include a dollar of new infrastructure funding anywhere, simply allocating money already in the budget to new projects.

But most of this spending won’t happen for years. Only 1 per cent of this year’s allocations will be spent in 2018-19. Three quarters won’t be invested until beyond the forward estimates.

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This means that Australians will have to re-elect the Coalition not once, but twice, before the bulk of the money will appear.

Put simply, the government has sought public praise by pretending it is committed to building new railways and roads, but has pushed their delivery off into the never-never.

In the meantime, actual federal infrastructure grants to states and territories are falling off a cliff.

In 2017-18 the government promised to distribute $8 billion in infrastructure grants to the states.

But the budget documents show grants will fall year on year to $4.5 billion by 2021-22.

Across the four- year forward estimates, this year’s budget is more than $2 billion less than last year’s projections.

It’s even worse than a year ago, when the independent Parliamentary Budget Office calculated that over the next decade, federal infrastructure investment as a proportion of GDP will halve from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

Australia needs an increase in infrastructure investment now, not four to eight years from now.

Investing in the right projects now will boost economic activity and create jobs in the short-term, while lifting productivity and economic growth in the medium to long term.

As cover for its cuts, the government is continuing to promote its attempts to attract more private investment to deliver public infrastructure as a viable alternative.

Must provide a return

While private investment is welcome, the government’s endeavours in this area have yielded little.

Its push began three years ago with the creation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Financing Facility. It has failed to deliver a major new infrastructure project.

Then there was last year’s new idea – the Infrastructure Financing Unit, which was designed to use “innovative financing” mechanisms like value capture to secure private investment.

After a year of operation, the IFU has not produced a project.

Undeterred, the government used this budget to resort to complete fantasy by claiming it will provide $5 billion in off-budget funding via an equity investment for the aforementioned Melbourne Airport Rail Link.

Off-budget funding can work for some projects. Indeed, the former Labor government used an equity funding model to deliver the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal.

But the golden rule for projects to be taken off-budget is that they must be able to provide a return to the budget. That return must cover not only operating expenses, but also a commercial return on the capital investment.

There is no doubt that the right public transport projects can boost productivity and generate economic growth. However, they do not produce revenue streams sufficient to cover the cost of their operation, let alone the cost of construction.

There’s an old saying to the effect that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The idea that infrastructure like the Melbourne Airport Link will somehow build itself without any taxpayer funding is too good to be true.

This is sham funding. It is a funny-money political narrative, not a genuine plan to deliver productivity-enhancing, congestion-relieving infrastructure.

This is why independent experts have questioned the government’s approach.

For example, the Grattan Institute’s Marion Terrill has warned: “If infrastructure projects are never going to make a commercial return, the government should stop pretending they will. And if they are worth building at all, the government should fund them transparently on-budget.”

Adrian Dwyer, the head of peak industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, has a similar view: “There are only two ways to pay for infrastructure – tickets and taxes. We can’t finance our way out of a funding problem.”

During its five years in office, the Coalition has cut infrastructure investment across the nation, particularly for public transport.

In budget 2018, it sought to shift its rhetoric to pretend it was ready to reverse its cuts. But once you get beyond the spin, nothing has changed.

Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Cities.

 

May 28, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Fremantle – Monday, 28 May, 2018

Subjects: By-elections, WA infrastructure, NBN, Newspoll, Senator Steve Martin, Barnaby Joyce.

JOSH WILSON: Hi I’m Josh Wilson, I’m Labor’s candidate for Fremantle and it’s great to welcome you all here to Fremantle, or Walyalup as we call it – the lands of the Whadjuk-Nyoongar people, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.

We’ve been through a difficult time here in Western Australia over the last couple of years. We’ve been in recession, we’ve faced at times the highest unemployment in the country. Unfortunately we haven’t been supported in investment in productive infrastructure, job creating infrastructure by the Turnbull Government – whether that’s in transport manufacturing or the NBN.

I’m particularly concerned that we’ve got a terrible share of defence shipbuilding and that Western Australia is getting far and away the worst form of the NBN. We’re getting half as much again of the worst technology in fibre to the node than Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and that’s going to hold us back.

But look there’s no person who understands the social and economic benefits of investment in infrastructure than my guest, my friend and colleague Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. It’s great to have him here in Fremantle, and I’ll hand over to Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks Josh. It’s great to be back here in the West. This is my seventh visit to Western Australia just this year. And one of the reasons why I continue to come back to support people like Josh – and his now re-election campaign as the Member for Fremantle – is that Western Australians haven’t been getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth Government and it’s due to get worse rather than better, unless we get a Labor Government here federally, working with the State Labor Government of Mark McGowan.

The fact is that the Budget Papers showed of a fortnight ago, that infrastructure investment for Western Australia falls from $1.2 billion in the coming year across the Forward Estimates, to just $411 million. Now that cut, of some 75 per cent in infrastructure investment for Western Australia, will lead to fewer jobs, less economic growth and a contraction in the economy unless it is reversed.

This is a government that made a lot of promises from Malcolm Turnbull when he dropped in for an hour or two recently, in the lead-up to the Budget – with a very big figure mentioned. But he didn’t mention the timeline and the truth is that most of this funding is off into the Never-Never. We need investment here in Western Australia now – investment in Perth METRONET, investment in local roads, investment in the Outer Harbour – which will transform the way that Fremantle functions as a working city.

So those investments are all important, as is investment in the NBN. We know that – In terms of overcoming the tyranny of distance from the world’s city that is furthest away from any other major city, that Perth is. The NBN can overcome that tyranny of distance and we haven’t had that investment here in WA.

WA is suffering as a result by having businesses that can’t compete. Whereas if you overcome the tyranny of distance and a business in Perth or Fremantle has the same access to markets nationally and globally, as one in the CBD of Sydney or Melbourne, then that becomes a huge advantage for people here in the west.

I’m very proud to support Josh, he’s made an outstanding contribution already in his short time in office as the Member for Fremantle. The work that he’s done, for example on the live sheep trade, has made a real difference to government policy but also to Labor policy and I’m very confident that Josh will be returning after July 28, to be part of our team.

I think it is unfortunate that the Government has chosen to put off these by-elections and to leave Fremantle without a representative until then. But we’ll get on with it and we’ll be campaigning each and every day as the Labor Party, to make sure that Josh is returned and that Fremantle, which historically has had some great Labor members – John Curtin and Carmen Lawrence amongst them, Melissa Parke, Josh’s predecessor as well. I’m convinced that Josh will be another long-term Labor member who’ll make an outstanding contribution to Fremantle, but also to the nation. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: In respect to the Newspoll, voters prefer you as Labor leader. Considering Bill Shorten’s personal unpopularity as preferred Prime Minister, would the party have a better chance of success with you at the helm?

ALBANESE: Today’s Newspoll shows that once again Labor is ahead. I don’t know if that’s 32 or 33 polls in a row now. Malcolm Turnbull himself set the test when he rolled Tony Abbott as the leader of the Coalition and as Prime Minister – a first term elected Prime Minister. So we are determined to continue to campaign in the lead up to the election and once again we are ahead in the polls.

REPORTER: How does it feel though, to be more popular than Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: I’m concerned about the team, I’m a team player and every member of Labor’s team is playing their role and we only have one priority – which is to get rid of this rotten Government, this Government that doesn’t have an agenda for the nation.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but he didn’t have a plan to govern. Once he got the job – he’s like the dog that caught the car, he doesn’t know what to do with it.

What we do know, is that he is not standing up for the values that he had on issues like climate change, over such a long period of time. And now we’ll wait and see what he does on company tax cuts, now that there is a great deal of difficulty to say the least, in him getting it through. And members of his own Coalition are calling for him to abandon his own policy.

REPORTER: I mean, it is impressive numbers though. Would you ever consider running yourself?

ALBANESE: :Look, I’m determined to do the job that I have and to do it to the best of my capacity as part of the Labor team. And what I do every day, is develop alternative policies for Labor in government on infrastructure, on transport, on tourism here in WA. At lunchtime I have a round table with all the executives from Tourism WA, again engaging with them about how we promote the west, about how we increase tourism opportunities, both in terms of domestic tourist numbers, but also global tourism numbers.

I was quite proud to play a role in ensuring that we now have direct flights from Perth to London, through Qantas. That will – in terms of the return journey – make a big difference to tourism here in the West, not just in Perth, but in those important regional areas like Broome, the Kimberley, down around Margaret River, Kalgoorlie. WA has so much to offer and we’ll be today talking about those issues and that’s what I’m concerned with and each and every day as well, campaigning against the Coalition Government.

I once said in a press conference – I like fighting Tories that’s what I do. Indeed that’s what I’m doing here today and that’s what I’ll continue to do, in the lead up to the next election.

REPORTER: It has just been confirmed that Tasmanian Senator, Steve Martin is joining the National Party, what’s your response?

ALBANESE: I do think that when members are elected under a particular political party, in my view they have a moral obligation to – if they’re going to change parties, to put that towards the public. Senator Martin was elected as a member of the Jacqui Lambie Network. That means he’s changed twice since he actually stood on that platform, when it came to the last election and received a very small number of votes. So call me old fashioned, I think that voters deserve more respect than Members of Parliament just deciding to change their political allegiances without reference back to those voters.

REPORTER: Can we talk about Barnaby Joyce for a moment? What are your thoughts on the fact that he is doing a paid interview now – $150,000 interview with Channel Seven on Sunday night, to talk about his situation. What do you think about it?

ALBANESE: My view is that Barnaby Joyce’s personal life is a matter for him and his family. It’s a matter for him to make those decisions and I’d make no comment about that. I do think though, that as politicians as parliamentarians we’re paid by the Australian public to do our job. Part of that job is media interviews such as this and I don’t think that parliamentarians should be paid for media interviews, full stop. I think that is a pretty important principle. That’s my personal view. It’s one that I’ve always engaged in and certainly it’s up to Mr Joyce to explain why it is that principle is being breached.

REPORTER: Do you think it’s a bit rich, him asking for privacy now, given that he is telling everyone about his life and asking the rest of the media and Australia for privacy?

ALBANESE: I don’t make any comment about his personal life or those issues, but people will draw their own conclusions.

REPORTER: This might be a repeat, but if the Labor Party loses one of the by-election seats, are you ready to put your hand up at the National Conference and run for the leader of the Party?

ALBANESE: I’m ready to ensure that – with the rest of the Labor team we win these by-elections. That’s why I’m here today. I was in Braddon on Friday with Justine Keay. I’ll be spending time with Susan Lamb in Longman. Later today, I’ll be with Patrick Gorman in Perth. I’m determined that Labor will win these by-elections and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that occurs, because we need to get rid of this Government.

We have an agenda for nation-building infrastructure. We doubled infrastructure investment when we were in government. When we came to office we were 20th amongst advanced economies for investment in infrastructure as a proportion of the national economy. When we left office we were 1st. I’m committed to nation-building infrastructure whether it be public transport, where we transformed the way that public transport was dealt with by the national Government to investments like Perth City Link, here. We invested in roads like Gateway WA, the Great Eastern Highway. We invested as well, in local community infrastructure here in Perth and Fremantle and that made a major difference. So I’m looking forward to being the Infrastructure Minister in a Labor Government after the next election, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that happens.

REPORTER: Surely you would be seriously considering it though? I mean if this gives Labor the best possible chance to get their foot forward, surely you would be considering it?

ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor is ahead in the polls yet again today. Indeed ahead by more than we were a fortnight ago. I’m determined that Labor will win the next election. I want to do everything I can to make sure that the opportunities are maximized – not as the end in itself, but because of what Labor governments do.

Because I want to see investment in education.

Because I want to see TAFE re-energized.

Because I want to see young people have the opportunity to be the best they can in life, and that starts with early childhood education.

Because I want to see health care prioritised, with Medicare as its centerpiece.

Because I want to look after our ageing population and we’re not developing those long-term strategies.

Because I want to invest in infrastructure and because I want to protect our pristine natural environment and there’s nowhere better than here in WA.

I want to see a Government that is committed to real action on climate change and a Labor government would be that.

That’s what I’m determined and focused on.

REPORTER: But you haven’t ruled it out?

ALBANESE: I absolutely have said that my priority is one and one only, which is to be a Minister in a Labor Government and to see us elected. I expect that to happen. Thanks.

[ENDS]

MONDAY, 28 MAY, 2018

May 28, 2018

Media Release – WA Infrastructure Investment about to Enter Freefall – Monday, 28 May, 2018

Federal infrastructure investment in Western Australia will plummet by two thirds over the next four years, according to evidence given by Infrastructure Department bureaucrats during last week’s Senate Estimates.

Since it delivered Budget 2018, the Turnbull Government has attempted to con Australians into believing it has finally stopped cutting investment in nation-building infrastructure.

But under oath at Senate Estimates the Government’s own Infrastructure Department confirmed that annual Federal infrastructure grants to Western Australia are about to enter freefall.

According to their evidence, Federal infrastructure grants for Western Australia will fall from the promised $1.2 billion in 2017-18 to $411 million by 2021-22. That’s a 65 per cent reduction for WA – a state that requires increased infrastructure investment to support its growing population and boost economic growth.
The Budget Papers also show that of the new projects funded in this year’s Budget, only about half of the money allocated to them will be available over the next four years.

The other half is being pushed into the Never-Never beyond the Budget Forward Estimates.

This means voters would have to re-elect Malcolm Turnbull twice more before important projects such as METRONET, Bunbury Outer Ring Road, Tonkin Highway upgrades and construction of an interchange at the Roe Highway / Great Eastern Highway Bypass intersection are delivered.

After years of cuts, Western Australia requires investment in railways and roads now, not years from now.

Only Labor can deliver a Fair Go for WA..

Over six years, the previous Federal Labor Government delivered nearly $7 billion for Western Australia, lifting per capita infrastructure investment from $154 per Western Australian to $261.

MONDAY, 28 MAY, 2018

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.

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