Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jun 5, 2014

Government confirms no new Pacific Highway investment

The Abbott Government has abandoned any new funding for the Pacific Highway upgrade, with the Government today unable to identify a single dollar of new Pacific Highway investment in the 2014-15 Budget.

Every one of the Pacific Highway projects listed in Budget documents was funded by the former Labor Government.

In Parliament today I twice asked Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss to identify any new projects on the Pacific Highway that had not been delivered by previous Labor Budgets.

He was unable to do so.

Labor’s existing Pacific Highway investment program has been supported in the Budget.

Unlike Labor, which provided additional funding in each of our six Budgets from 2008, the Coalition Government has not even added one dollar.

Upgrading this important highway will dramatically improve road safety and boost the economic productivity of communities on the road.

But Mr Truss and his junior ministerial sidekick Jamie Briggs should stop fibbing to Australians about where the money is coming from.

The Government has been desperately re-announcing the former Labor Government’s investment to direct public attention away from the Budget’s broken promises and savage cuts to health and education.

Today, given the opportunity to back their rhetoric with facts, these ministers were struck mute.

This explains why glossy Budget documents include a Pacific Highway work schedule that appeared to have been cut and pasted from last year’s Budget documents.

The truth about the Abbott Government’s infrastructure Budget is that it is made up of old projects funded by Labor as well as billions of dollars in cuts to funding for public transport and existing road projects which are being used to fund a handful of new projects.

However, as Mr Truss confirmed in Parliament this morning, not one of those new projects has been assessed by the independent experts at Infrastructure Australia to determine whether they represent value for money.

This is despite the Government’s unambiguous election promise to subject any new infrastructure project worth more than $100 million to cost-benefit analysis approved by Infrastructure Australia.

 

 

Jun 5, 2014

Abbott exiles tourism

Tony Abbott has cut off ties between Tourism Australia and the department in charge of tourism, ending coordination between Australia’s key tourism body and the Commonwealth Government in the $107 billion sector.

Today in Senate Estimates the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the committee that the Government gives no consideration to the work of Tourism Australia, which is charged with delivering growth in the sector.

 As the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, I do not take into account substantially what Tourism Australia is doing.

PETER VARGHESE, DFAT SECRETARY, SENATE ESTIMATES, 5 JUNE 2014

With no dedicated Tourism Minister and a reduction in resources to Tourism Australia this year, it is clear the Coalition Government is happy to break its promises to tourism operators around the country to give the sector ‘prominence in government’.

Tourism employs over 900,000 Australians and every dollar spent in the sector adds another 92 cents to other parts of the Australian economy.

But one day before the Budget, Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb revealed that the Coalition Government intends to end Commonwealth funding to tourism altogether.

We are doing all sorts of things to give the opportunity for tourism to maximise the potential that is out there, so that we can replace the role of government spending in driving growth.

ANDREW ROBB, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, 12 MAY 2014

Tourism is one of 5 super-growth sectors identified by Deloitte as a key driver of jobs and prosperity over the next 10 years.

Instead of slashing support and hampering key agencies, Tony Abbott should acknowledge the importance of tourism for the national economy.

Appointing a Tourism Minister would be a good place to start.

Jun 5, 2014

Truss jets into claim credit for Labor project

Labor welcomes the official opening of the $280 million upgrade of the Intersection at Mains Road and Kessels Road on the Brisbane Urban Corridor on Sunday.

The project has freed up the movement of cars and trucks through the intersection by eliminating the existing traffic lights and diverting Kessels Road beneath Mains Road.

“When Mr Truss jets into town to take credit for the project this weekend, he should explain to the community why he wanted to vote against it in 2009” Anthony Albanese said.

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/libs-nats-attempt-to-block-major-road-rail-projects-2

The project was fully funded at a cost of $280 million by the former Labor Government as part of its historic Nation Building Program.

“The former LNP member for Moreton did nothing about this vital project for 11 years and it took a Labor government to deliver this project to the community” Graham Perrett said.

“Motorists on the southside are already seeing the benefits of this intersection. Now that all lanes are open, those driving through on their daily commute have noticed the full benefits of eased congestion and improved safety.”

While the Abbott Government has feigned commitment to infrastructure investment, its 2013-14 Budget is dominated by projects fully funded by the previous Labor Government as well as cuts to existing road and urban rail projects.

When Labor took office in 2007 Australia was 20th in a list of OECD nations in terms of infrastructure investment as a proportion of GDP.

It is now 1st.

 

Jun 2, 2014

Warren’s whopper on local road funding

Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss’ desperate attempt to conceal cuts to local roads funding reached fever pitch today in Question Time.

During a response in which he claimed yet more Labor Government-funded roads projects as his own, Mr Truss also sought to rewrite history on Roads to Recovery funding.

The 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget papers show that the Labor Government extended both Roads to Recovery funding and the Black Spots program across the forward estimates.

The Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014 did little more than eliminate the term nation building from the statue books as part of Mr Abbott’s agenda of rebadging Labor Government programs.

A simple check of the Bill and its explanatory memoranda will confirm there is no funding attached to this piece of legislation.

Labor sought to strengthen the Bill, particularly by ensuring that all major projects of more than $100 million would have cost-benefit analysis through the Infrastructure Australia process.

Worse, in making his deceptive comments today, Mr Truss has tried to conceal the Coalition Government’s $1 billion cuts to financial assistance grants to councils, used for local roads, across the forward estimates.

Indeed, after six years the cuts will be the equivalent of the entire Roads to Recovery program funding.

In the seventh year, the cuts will exceed the total value of the Roads to Recovery program.

These cuts will be higher for the more disadvantaged local government areas which rely on the funding and will therefore have a particularly harsh impact on rural and regional areas.

If Mr Truss is serious about local roads he should follow the former Labor Government’s example of increasing funding for the program instead of making cuts greater than its entire value.

The only threats to Roads to Recovery funding are the Coalition Government’s cuts and its failure to support Constitutional recognition of local government.

Jun 2, 2014

Abbott thumbs his nose at proper process

Tony Abbott’s risks wasting billions of taxpayer dollars by ramming through major road projects without proper analysis of whether they represent value for public money.

The Prime Minister who in Opposition vowed he would require cost-benefit analysis on all major infrastructure proposals worth more than $100 million is now thumbing his nose at proper process by attacking it as “analysis paralysis’’.

Infrastructure projects need to be properly researched and assessed by the independent Infrastructure Australia to ensure they add to national productivity and represent the best value for scarce taxpayer dollars.

That’s why Labor created Infrastructure Australia.

Now, as well as proposing legislation that guts Infrastructure Australia’s independence by opening the way for greater political interference in its activities, Mr Abbott is rejecting proper process as paralysis.

He would prefer the bad old days of pork-barrelling to prop up Coalition seats, rather than subjecting projects to expert examination.

Mr Abbott’s revelation about his true views about process follows a federal Budget in which he lavished money on projects not yet properly analysed and stripped billions of dollars out of urban rail projects like the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project, which IA had assessed as worthy investments.

For example the Government will make advance payments of $1.5 billion into Melbourne’s East-West Link road this month, despite having produced no business case and despite the fact that $1 billion of this money is for Stage II, construction of which will not begin until 2015-16.

It is also providing unconditional support for Sydney’s Westconnex road project despite there being no finalised business case and the fact that its current design does not serve its stated aims of taking commuters to the city and freight to the port.

Mr Abbott does not want expert advice on Westconnex because experts would tell him that as it is currently planned, it is a road to a traffic jam.

Decisions about big road and rail projects need to be examined in terms of their ability to boost national productivity and the Commonwealth should invest in roads and urban rail to deliver a properly integrated transport network.

Mr Abbott’s idea of productivity is moving from three-word slogans to two-word slogans.

 

May 29, 2014

Entsch refuses to stand up for his electorate

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is in denial about cuts to remote airport funding.

It was confirmed in Senate estimates this week that the Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) component of the Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) has been axed from 2015-16.

JOHN DOHERTY, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The airstrips funding component is funded at this stage only to 2014-15.

SENATE ESTIMATES, 27 MAY 2014

 But yesterday Mr Entsch tried to deny the cuts existed.

WARREN ENTSCH: “Any suggestion that airstrips in Leichhardt are going to be affected is nonsense,” Mr Entsch said from Canberra today. “The Deputy Prime Minister’s office has personally confirmed with me that the remote airstrip upgrades program has not been ‘axed’.

MEDIA RELEASE, 28 MAY 2014

Mr Entsch and the Deputy Prime Minister should admit they are wrong. Senior public officials have confirmed that the Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) program will end in 2014-15.

In stark contrast the former Labor Government upgraded remote airports across Far North Queensland including at Cooktown, Burketown, Karumba, Doomadgee and Northern Peninsula.

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/more-funding-for-queenslands-remote-airstrips

Mr Entsch’s refusal to stand up for his electorate will risk lives, hurt communities and limit the economic participation and social wellbeing of people living in remote Far North Queensland.

 

 

May 29, 2014

Abbott creates pressure for council rate rises

A senior Australian Government official has confirmed Australia’s local councils will lift rates or reduce services because of Tony Abbott’s Budget senseless funding cuts.

While claiming to have lifted road funding in the Budget, Mr Abbott’s Budget decision to freeze indexation of financial assistance grants from July 1 will rob councils of more than $900 million they now use for local road maintenance and the provision of services.

At a Senate Budget Estimates committee hearing this week the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Mike Mrdak, conceded that the decision would place new pressure on councils.

I imagine in light of the Budget that local government – each individual council – will be looking to see how they need to reshape their budget in terms of no longer having access to that indexation factor.

Mr Mrdak’s comments echo those of the Local Government Association of Australia, which warned last week that councils would have to re-evaluate their Budgets because of the freeze.

“Mr Abbott’s first Budget not only includes massive cuts to Commonwealth spending, but seeks to shift political blame to other levels of government.” Mr Albanese said.

“While the Government insists on the need for spending cuts, it asks other levels of government, including small rural councils, to do the heavy lifting.”

The Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, Julie Collins, said there would be a disproportionate impact on smaller regional and rural councils with their heavier reliance upon FAGs to maintain roads.

“How does Tony Abbott think smaller regional and rural councils will sustain their level of services to rate payers?,” Ms Collins said.

“This Budget has been designed for other levels of government to bear the financial burden and local councils and their rate payers have not been spared by Tony Abbott’s cuts.”

Councils, particularly small councils in rural and regional areas, rely upon FAGs to maintain local roads and Mr Abbott is asking them to lift the rates burden on ratepayers to fund his cuts.

 

May 27, 2014

Truss fails on remote airport funding

Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has been caught seeking credit for a remote airport upgrade funded by the former Labor Government on the same day it was confirmed he has axed the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme from 2015-16.

A joint press statement from the Infrastructure Minister and the Northern Territory Coalition Government today claimed credit for the opening of the new $2.1 million sealed airstrip at Lajamanu in the Northern Territory.

 

 WARREN TRUSS: The Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme is enhancing the safety and accessibility of aerodromes in remote areas to help improve connectivity.

MEDIA STATEMENT, 27 MAY 2014

Extraordinarily, Mr Truss’ statement came after it was confirmed in Senate estimates that morning that he has axed the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme program from 2015-16 leaving remote airports without a single dollar of federal funding.

 

JOHN DOHERTY, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY: The airstrips funding component is funded at this stage only to 2014-15.

SENATE ESTIMATES, 27 MAY 2014

The program provides funding to improve the safety of airstrips in remote and isolated communities in Australia, and for services which are not commercially viable but essential for the social and economic well-being of the communities they serve.

The Government’s own Portfolio Budget Statements (p.67) describes the program as ‘vital for the provision of access to essential air services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.’

The former Labor Government provided funding for 181 remote airport upgrades projects nationally, investing more than $260 million to build and upgrade regional and remote airports across Australia.

Mr Truss should stop trying to hide behind the achievements of the former Labor Government and explain to remote communities why he is axing funding for this critical program.

May 27, 2014

Visionless Abbott dumps high-speed rail

Tony Abbott has turned his back on a future high-speed rail link down Australia’s eastern coast.

Today a Senate Budget Estimates committee heard confirmation that the Federal Budget included a $52 million cut to funding allocated by the previous Labor Government to begin the long-term planning process for a link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

The money was to have been used to begin to secure the corridor needed before it is consumed by urban sprawl.

It would also have funded the creation of a planning authority including representatives of affected states and the Australian Capital Territory as well as rail experts and council representatives.

High-speed rail is a long-term project that will revolutionise interstate travel.

A Labor-commissioned feasibility study into the the 1748km line found that for every dollar spent on HSR on the first section between Sydney and Melbourne, the project would return $2.15 in economic benefit to our nation.

A project of this scale provides vision and long-term commitment and it is now clear that Tony Abbott has neither, even though the demands of a carbon-constrained economy will only strengthen the case for the project in coming years.

Creation of the authority had been recommended by the previous Labor Government’s High-Speed Rail advisory group, which included former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and Business Council of Australia head Jennifer Westacott.

Mr Abbott scrapped the advisory group not long after taking office.

In one of Transport Minister Warren Truss’s first speeches after last year’s election, he told an Australasian Rail Association Conference that he supported high-speed rail.

This cut shows otherwise.

 

May 27, 2014

Government axes remote airport funding

The Coalition Government has axed funding for remote airport upgrades, putting remote communities across Australia at risk of being cut off from vital services and emergency medical care.

Today in Senate estimates it was confirmed the Coalition Government has axed the Remote Airstrip Upgrade (RAU) component of the Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) from 2015-16.

The program provides funding to improve the safety of airstrips in remote and isolated communities in Australia, and for services which are not commercially viable but essential for the social and economic well-being of the communities they serve.

 

JOHN DOHERTY, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The airstrips funding component is funded at this stage only to 2014-15.

SENATE ESTIMATES, 27 MAY 2014

The Government’s own Portfolio Budget Statements (p.67) describes the program as ‘vital for the provision of access to essential air services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.’

The former Labor Government provided funding for 181 remote airport upgrades projects nationally under the Regional Aviation Access Program, investing more than $260 million to build and upgrade regional and remote airports across Australia.

This includes $61 million for subsidised remote community flights over six years in government compared to the former Howard Government’s allocation of just $16 million over the same period of time.

Cutting funding to remote airports will risk lives, and limit the economic participation and wellbeing of people living in remote communities across Australia.

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