Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jun 13, 2017

Turnbull’s rail fund a sham

Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed his National Rail Fund is a sham that will not produce a dollar of new investment for public transport until well after the next Federal election.

The Prime Minister’s admission came today after the Queensland Government was forced to go it alone in funding the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane in its 2017 Budget because Mr Turnbull has refused to support the project.

Malcolm Turnbull likes taking selfies on trains, tram and buses.

But he refuses to invest in trains, trams or buses despite repeated warnings that traffic congestion is acting as a hand brake on the nation’s economic development.

Cross River Rail is urgently needed to provide a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD because the existing Merivale Bridge is reaching full capacity.

Continued delay in commencing the project will inhibit economic growth in Brisbane and right across south-east Queensland.

In last month’s Budget Mr Turnbull created a $10 billion National Rail Fund which he says could be used to invest in Cross River Rail as well as other public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro and the ADELink light rail project.

In Question Time today I asked: Is the Prime Minister aware that under the so-called National Rail Program, not a single dollar is available for building rail in this entire term of Parliament? Nothing this year, nothing next year and nothing the year after that? Isn’t the National Rail Program the new NAIF – the No Actual Infrastructure Fund?
Mr Turnbull ignored the specifics of the question.

Cross River Rail was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012 and was ready to commence in 2013 under a deal between the former Labor Government and the former Coalition Queensland Government.

But it was cancelled by the incoming Federal Coalition Government, which has subsequently not provided a single dollar of new investment for public transport.


Jun 9, 2017

Coalition slashes Tassie infrastructure investment

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to cut Federal investment in Tasmanian railways, roads and other infrastructure by more than two thirds in the next three years.

At a time when Tasmania needs increased investment to secure productivity gains and boost economic growth, the Coalition is cutting investment to the bone.

Budget documents show that while the Commonwealth expects to invest $174.6 million in Tasmanian infrastructure in 2017-18, the figure will fall to $52.6 million by 2019-20 – see graph below.
The cuts will follow a $26 million reduction in infrastructure spending in Tasmania in the current financial year revealed in the Budget in May, including cuts to the Black Spots program and general road funding.

Year after year the Coalition Government pretends it is lifting infrastructure investment but year after year it inflicts more painful cuts on Tasmania.

Tasmanians pay their taxes just like other Australians.

But from the moment the Coalition took office and cut $100 million from the Midland Highway upgrade, it has been reducing funding.

Under the former Labor Government, Commonwealth investment in Tasmanian infrastructure was equivalent to $264 a year per Tasmanian.

But by 2020-21, investment will fall to $118 per Tasmanian.

That’s not good enough.

Jun 7, 2017

Unlocking tourism potential requires public transport

If the Government is serious about boosting tourism in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, it should ensure the Western Sydney Airport is connected to public transport from day one.

Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, places of adventure and great natural beauty, already offer so much to tourists.

However if we are to truly unlock the tourism potential arising from the Western Sydney Airport, investment in public transport is required to make it easier for visitors to access these destinations.

Time and again we have seen this is a Government that can’t match its rhetoric with reality.

Mr Fletcher says he wants to boost tourism in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, but he won’t provide the infrastructure investment that’s required to achieve this.

Tourism plays a critical role in the national economy and that of many local economies.

It has been identified by Deloitte as one of five super growth sectors and employs more than one million Australians.

The Government must provide real investment to ensure this vital industry continues its record growth and this includes investing in rail access for the Western Sydney Airport.

Jun 2, 2017

Survey of Tourist Accommodation Still Under a Cloud

The future of the Survey of Tourist Accommodation remains in doubt after it was revealed at Senate Estimates last night that Minister Ciobo has failed to make any progress in determining its funding.

Austrade department officials confirmed that ‘a final position is now being considered by Government.’

However this is nearly identical to the response provided following the February Senate Estimates this year where, the matter was ‘under consideration by Governments’.

The Survey of Tourist Accommodation is heavily relied upon by the tourism sector and considered a valuable resource.

It provides information on accommodation across Australia, including occupancy rates, room rates and revenue, as well as a measure of accommodation supply for destinations across the nation.

Indeed in a 2015 submission to the Productivity Commission the Tourism and Transport Forum said that the STA ‘has delivered a comprehensive picture of Australia’s accommodation sector performance since 1998 that has been critical to enabling informed tourism investment decisions.’

At last night’s Senate Estimates, Mr O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, said that, ‘I think any data source that helps us track the progress of 2020 is a valuable one.’

Given that we are now half way through 2017, Minister Ciobo must waste no further time and commit to producing the Survey of Tourist Accommodation.

This Government has shown nothing but contempt for the tourism sector, failing to even release a tourism policy at the last election.

In this Budget alone, it has cut Tourism Australia’s budget by $35 million over the forward years and increased visa application charges.

The fact is that tourism is one of Australia’s super-growth sectors.

Communities around Australia rely on tourism for their economies, and so too does the nation.

This sector deserves real investment so that it can continue to play a leading role in the national economy.


Jun 1, 2017

Public transport con unravelling

The Turnbull Government’s alleged $10 billion National Rail Fund has emerged as a political fix that will do nothing to actually deliver new railways.

Evidence before Senate Budget Estimates hearings has confirmed that the fund will not yield a dollar in actual investment until well after the next Federal election.

In his Budget speech on May 9, Treasurer Scott Morrison said the fund could be used to provide Commonwealth contributions to much needed public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, and the ADELink project.

However, the Budget fine print reveals the fund will yield nothing this year, next year or the year after.

After four years of neglect, Australia’s big cities need rail investment now, not years from now.

Traffic congestion is a hand brake on economic and jobs growth. Analysis by Infrastructure Australia has found it will cost the nation $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031 without action now.

It is clear that the Government created this alleged rail fund because it has realised that Australians are sick of its refusal to invest in public transport.

However, the lack of any actual investment this entire term confirms the fund is a con. It is not a legitimate funding mechanism, but a political fix designed to give the illusion of action.

Mr Turnbull enjoys taking selfies as he rides on trains, trams and buses. It is time he invested in trains, trams and buses.

May 30, 2017

Ex-premier confirms Cross River Rail con

Former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has confirmed that Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Project was ready to go in 2013 before it was scrapped by the incoming Federal Coalition Government.
Mr Newman’s revelation, made on Sky News, demonstrates the absurdity of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ongoing claim that he cannot invest in Cross River Rail because it has no business case.

On Sky News on Monday night I was interviewed by Mr Newman, who was a guest host on the Beattie and Reith program.

During the interview I put it to Mr Newman that the independent Infrastructure Australia approved the Cross River Rail business case in 2012, when he was Queensland Premier.

Mr Newman agreed.

I further put it to Mr Newman that in 2013, on the basis of that business case, his Government and the former Federal Labor Government sealed a deal, with each pledging $715 million to deliver the project as a public-private partnership.

But despite all the work having been done, the incoming Federal Coalition Government scrapped the project a few months later.

ALBANESE: We were ready to go.
NEWMAN: Well, we were actually.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull has refused to fund Cross River Rail on the basis that it has no business case.

But as Mr Newman has agreed, the business case was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, and classified as “ready to proceed’’.

Mr Turnbull’s demand refusal to invest in the project is absurd.

The Prime Minister likes taking selfies riding on trains, trams and buses. But he refuses to provide new investment for trains, trams or buses.

It is time he stopped stalling and worked with current Queensland Government to deliver Cross River Rail.


May 25, 2017

New funding agency not needed

Mystery surrounding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s new Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency has deepened, with bureaucrats appearing at Senate Budget Estimates hearings unable to explain basic details about its function and operation.

It is a year since Mr Turnbull announced he would create the agency within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to broker financing deals for private investment in public infrastructure projects.

But at Senate Budget Estimates hearings this week, departmental officers struggled to explain the unit’s function, operational or reporting guidelines or what measures would be taken to prevent political interference in the advice it provides.

This lack of detail suggests the establishment of the unit is a stalling tactic by Mr Turnbull to draw attention away from his cuts to infrastructure investment, including his $1.6 billion cut this year alone.

There is no need to create the Infrastructure and Project Financing Unit.

It is a solution looking for a problem that does not exist.

The independent Infrastructure Australia already has the expertise and legislative mandate to work with businesses on financing issues and public-private partnerships.

Indeed the former Labor Government worked through Infrastructure Australia to establish public-private partnerships to deliver the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail projects in 2013.

But when the Coalition took office a few months later, it scrapped those projects, even though they included the kind of funding arrangements the Prime Minister now hopes to deliver through his new agency.

Mr Turnbull should stop trying to remake the world in his own image and start investing in actual rail, roads, ports and other infrastructure.

The peak lobby group for the infrastructure sector, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, made clear in its pre-Budget submission that the agency was not needed.

“We cannot identify any currently proposed infrastructure projects which are commercially viable and not already attracting finance,’’ the IPA submission said.

“Therefore we cannot see how the (agency) will increase the pace of project delivery.’’


May 23, 2017

New Coalition rail fund a con

The Turnbull Government’s new $10 billion National Rail Program has emerged as just another Coalition con, with senior bureaucrats appearing before a Senate Estimates committee unable to explain even basic details about how it will operate.

In his May 9 Budget speech, Treasurer Scott Morrison offered the new fund as a possible funding source for public transport projects.

But at a Senate Budget Estimates Committee late on Monday, officials confirmed no money would be released from the fund over the next two years.

The bureaucrats were also unable to explain how projects would qualify for funding, who would conduct eligibility assessments or whether the money would be disbursed via direct grants to the states or concessional loans.

In government, Labor delivered increased investment in public transport. But when the Coalition came to office it cut funding for all public transport projects that were not under construction, including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and Perth public transport.

After four wasted years, the Government has now been forced to embrace Labor’s policy in rhetorical terms.

But Budget 2017 did not include any new funding for public transport projects over the next two years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull likes taking selfies on trains, trams and buses.

But despite the spin, he still refuses to actually make new investments in trains, trams and buses.

In the same way, Mr Turnbull has sought to embrace Labor policies to improve the productivity, sustainability and liveability of Australian cities – policies I outlined at the National Press Club in September, 2014.

But again, Budget 2017 did not include a single dollar of extra investment for cities.


May 23, 2017

Coalition cuts Bruce Highway investment

The Turnbull Government cut investment on the Bruce Highway upgrade by $85 million in the year to June 30.

And Senate Budget Estimates hearings have confirmed there was no new money for the Bruce Highway in the 2017 Budget.

In the 2016 Budget, the Government promised it would invest $558 million on Bruce Highway projects in 2016-17.

But the 2017 Budget documents reveal that, in fact, the Government will invest $473 million in that period.

The figures underline the Turnbull Government’s ongoing campaign of adopting Labor’s language when it comes to the need for increased infrastructure investment without backing its rhetoric with actual increased investment.

The Budget papers show that nationally, the Government cut infrastructure investment by $1.6 billion in this financial year alone.

In his Budget speech and accompanying glossy documents, Treasurer Scott Morrison sought to suggest the Government would boost investment on the Bruce over the next ten years.

However, in Senate Budget Estimates committee hearings on Monday, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Secretary Mike Mrdak confirmed there was no new money.

May 23, 2017

Coalition’s plan for Coffs Harbour Bypass: come back next decade

The Turnbull Government has no concrete plans to build the Coffs Harbour Bypass and expects no progress on the project until the next decade, according to evidence before a Senate Budget Estimates committee.

The revelation comes despite ongoing attempts by ineffective Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker to pretend his advocacy is advancing the project.

Officials from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development told a Senate committee late yesterday they had no costings or detailed plans for the bypass project.

The officials also said they had not held formal discussions with the NSW Government over funding.

Asked for a timeline, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Secretary Mike Mrdak said: “We would certainly see this as a project which would be needing to come into the pipeline, certainly by the early 2020s’’.

Confirmation of Mr Hartsuyker’s inability to deliver follows news in the May 9 Budget of a huge cut in funding for the ongoing Pacific Highway duplication next year.

Budget documents show the Turnbull Government is investing $1.37 billion on Pacific Highway projects in the year to June 30. But investment will collapse to $710 million in 2017-18.

The cuts represent a stark contrast to the performance of the former Labor Government, which invested $7.9 billion on the Pacific Highway over six years – six times the amount the former Howard Government invested over 12 years.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office


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