Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Mar 28, 2014

Hockey must explain his rail cuts to States

When Joe Hockey meets state treasurers today to bully them about spending more on infrastructure, he should explain why he plans to slash billions of dollars in Commonwealth spending on urban passenger rail projects.

Mr Hockey has talked big for months about the importance of infrastructure investment to boost national productivity and create jobs and will today meet treasurers to demand they sell off state assets to raise money for more investment in roads, railways and other infrastructure.

But he should explain how he justifies withdrawing billions of dollars in infrastructure investment already allocated in the Budget to build public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail, the Adelaide’s Tonsley Park Project and urban rail projects in Perth.

While the previous Labor Government funded these projects, the Abbott Government has made clear it is ideologically opposed to investing in urban rail and will strip the money out of the Budget.

Our major cities are plagued by traffic congestion, which acts as a hand brake on economic productivity and therefore inhibits job creation.

Given Mr Hockey’s failure to understand the link between public transport and productivity growth, he’s the last person who should be lecturing state treasurers.

Mr Hockey is demanding states spend more so he can spend less.


Mar 26, 2014

Desperate tactics from visionless coalition

Desperate Coalition MPs are resorting to telling fibs about Labor’s commitment to the Roads to Recovery program to conceal Tony Abbott’s inaction on infrastructure investment.

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.

There was 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.

Labor not only supports the Roads to Recovery Program, but increased funding for it.

A simple check of the 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget will confirm that the Labor Government extended both Roads to Recovery funding and the Black Spots program across the forward estimates.

The misrepresentations of the Coalition are pathetic.

For months, Mr Abbott and his MPs have been re-announcing Labor infrastructure projects to pretend they were delivered by the Coalition.

Australians are seeing through these fibs so now the Government is resorting to ever more desperate tactics.

They are just making things up.


Mar 26, 2014

Albanese visits phantom road project

Today I was pleased to inspect the first section of a major Labor-funded road project in Perth which the Abbott Government appears to believe does not even exist.

On March 18, Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss proudly announced that he had delivered a $686 million contribution to Perth’s Gateway WA project and claimed that Labor had not provided the money for this critical project.

As he sought to con voters in the lead-up to the April 5 WA Senate election, Mr Truss pretended he was announcing a new project.

In fact, the flow of Commonwealth money for this project is in its second year. The first stage of the Gateway WA project – the Abernethy Road and Tonkin Highway interchange – is already open, having been planned, funded and delivered by the previous Labor Government.

Mr Truss and Tony Abbott are behaving like con men. They are trying to mislead voters to conceal the fact that they are slicing $500 million out of the existing Budget earmarked for public transport projects in Perth.

Rather than be honest with the people of WA, the Abbott Government has spent recent months re-announcing major Labor-delivered projects including:

  • The upgrades of the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal Highway.
  • The Swan Valley Bypass upgrade.
  • The Tonkin and Leach highway upgrades.
  • The Kwinana Freeway Roe Highway and Armadale Road upgrade. 

They should stop misleading the people of WA.

Mar 25, 2014

Abbott rejects trucking industry safety program

The Coalition has rejected Labor amendments to enshrine a safety and productivity program for the heavy vehicle sector in legislation.

The former Labor Government created the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program under the existing Nation Building Act in 2009.

The program funds the construction of new rest stops and parking/decoupling bays, technology trials, road and bridge upgrades and livestock industry-specific improvements.

There are 294 projects in total, including some 236 projects that have been completed, along with over 140 new or upgraded rest areas and 46 new or upgraded parking and decoupling bays.

These projects provide a safer and more productive work environment for the heavy vehicle sector and safer roads for all drivers.

Labor in Government allocated over $320 million funding for the program.

Yesterday in the House of Representatives I moved amendments to incorporate the program into the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill so that it can continue to save lives.

This was appropriate given the nature of this new legislation is to provide a framework for infrastructure and transport funding moving forward.

The Coalition voted against the amendments.

This was an irresponsible decision.

Hundreds of people are killed on Australian roads every year as a result of road accidents involving heavy vehicles.

The Coalition should support the amendments to the bill in the Senate to ensure this program can continue.


Mar 25, 2014

Stubborn Abbott shuns Perth

Tony Abbott is ignoring a rolled-gold opportunity to boost Western Australia’s economic development with his stubborn refusal to fund a passenger train link to the city’s busy airport.

Despite boasting about his government’s commitment to WA, Mr Abbott will strip $500 million out of the Budget earmarked for urban rail projects in Perth, including a passenger link to the Airport and light rail.

The Perth Airport is the nation’s fourth-biggest.

A passenger rail service would ease traffic congestion around the airport, which would drive job-creating productivity gains for the city and the state.

However, Mr Abbott has an ideological aversion to investing in urban rail, insisting it is the responsibility of cash-strapped state governments.

Mr Abbott is putting his own absurd ideology ahead of job-creation and economic development in WA.

Every economist in the nation knows that public transport lifts urban productivity.

But Mr Abbott is as stubborn as a mule on public transport and is prepared to turn his back on economic development.

Perth is a first-rate international city and it deserves a first-rate public transport system.

WA has been an economic powerhouse of the Australian economy growth for years and Mr Abbott should give something back to the state by investing in the critical infrastructure that will drive new waves of prosperity.


Mar 25, 2014

More nonsense from re-announcement addict Truss

Today in Question Time, Transport Minister Warren Truss spouted yet more nonsense to provide cover for his failure to actually do something in infrastructure.

Mr Truss suggested that Labor opposed the Roads to Recovery program. The fact is that Labor increased funding for this program in Government.

In the 2013-14 Budget, the former Labor Government also ensured that the increased funding was provided for all of the forward estimates years.

Mr Truss has spent the past fortnight making pathetic attempts to pretend projects in their second year of construction such as Gateway WA were new initiatives.

The fact is that just like the Roads to Recovery program, the funding has already been provided by the former Labor government.


Mar 25, 2014

Groundhog day for WA

Tony Abbott has re-announced yet another Labor Government-funded project in Western Australia as his own.

The widening of the Kwinana Freeway between the Roe Highway and Armadale Road is an important project.

That’s why as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I announced funding for it more than seven months ago, on August 5, 2013.


It was fully funded in the 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget.

So was the upgrade to the Great Northern Highway and the upgrade of the North West Coastal Highway, which the Coalition Government re-announced as their own on December 16, 2013.

So was the Swan Valley Bypass upgrade, which the Coalition Government re-announced on January 29, 2014.

So was the Tonkin Highway upgrade and the Leach Highway upgrade, which the Coalition Government re-announced on February 6, 2014.


All of these projects were fully funded by the Labor Government in the 2013-14 Budget.

Each has been re-announced by Coalition MPs as a new project.

This week, the Coalition Government has also claimed credit for commencing the Gateway WA project – after issuing media statement in November 2013 acknowledging the first stage was already complete.


In fact, construction on this project is now entering its second year after the Labor Government committed $686 million to this billion-dollar project.


West Australians deserve better than this sham.

If the Abbott Government has no new ideas and no new investment they should simply say so.



Mar 24, 2014

Public Transport: “It’s the economy, stupid” – Opinion – The Big Smoke

A book by a well-known Australian argues that public transport in this country is “generally slow, expensive’’ and “not especially reliable’’.

This author went further, insisting that, “There just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.’’

Clearly, this author has little interest in developing public transport and exploring its potential to increase the sustainability, efficiency and livability of our major cities.

The author?

Tony Abbott.

The book?

Battlelines – a publication the current Prime Minister penned to give Australians an understanding of the ideological basis for his approach to important policy issues.

Given Mr Abbott’s unambiguous antipathy toward public transport, this nation is at a crossroads when it comes to investing in public transport. At a time when we need to carefully consider each and every means at our disposal to boost economic productivity and create jobs, Mr Abbott is turning his back on urban rail projects that can smash traffic congestion, which acts as a handbrake on productivity growth.

He says the states should invest in rail while the Commonwealth should “stick to its knitting’’ and invest in roads.

I’m all for building new roads. In six years as the nation’s first Minister for Infrastructure, I doubled the roads budget. This led to the building or upgrading of 7500km of roads.

But roads are only one part of the urban transport equation.

Urban passenger rail cannot be ignored.

However, urban rail will be ignored by Mr Abbott in his first Budget in May. He has made clear he will strip billions of dollars from the existing Commonwealth Budget allocated for urban rail projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project and the Perth Airport link.

That is not in anyone’s interests, least of all commuters, whether they use public transport or drive to work.

To justify its position, the government argues that if it lifts road funding, states will have more resources to spend on urban rail.

There are two fundamental problems with this policy.

Firstly, it assumes that state governments have the resources to fund the big, game-changing urban rail projects that will drive productivity gains and jobs growth.

They don’t.

In January, the then WA Treasurer Troy Buswell, responding to a call from Joe Hockey for the states to pump prime the economy by accelerating infrastructure spending, was unequivocal.

“We are not in a position to do so,’’ he said. “We won’t be at the hall for that dance.’’

The second problem with the Government’s rigid view of the intergovernmental division of labour on transport is that it ignores the need for Commonwealth leadership to ensure spending on transport is properly integrated.

There’s no point in the Commonwealth working away in one silo on roads while the states operate in another on rail projects.

Someone has to set a direction.

That’s why the previous Labor Government created a Major Cities Unit within the Department of Infrastructure.

One of Mr Abbott’s first acts in government was to abolish the Major Cities Unit.

He is vacating the urban policy field.

This is a mistake.

Labor believes that serious nation builders do not limit themselves by wearing ideological blinkers.

We will always support whichever transport project – road or rail – can be shown by independent expert research to deliver the greatest productivity gain for the community.

Roads are just as important as railway lines.

A full bus can take 40 cars off the road. A freight train can take hundreds of trucks off the road.

To identify the relative merits of competing proposals for road and rail projects, governments need expert advice. That’s why the previous Labor Government created Infrastructure Australia, made up of experts tasked with providing an independent evidence base about the potential for projects to boost national productivity.

But Mr Abbott has legislation before the Senate that will destroy Infrastructure Australia’s independence by allowing the Minister for Infrastructure to issue orders about what it can and cannot study. Under the changes, the minister can order Infrastructure Australia to exclude certain classes on infrastructure, such as public transport, from its considerations.

The Government also proposes to give itself the power of veto over Infrastructure Australia publishing its research.

Transparency was at the heart of Labor’s design of Infrastructure Australia. We wanted the public and the investment sector to have access to the same information as the government so they could see where we were headed and make their own judgments about the wisdom or otherwise of government investment decisions.

We need an independent Infrastructure Australia to ensure that all modes of transport – including public transport (bus and rail), are on the table when it comes to the broad infrastructure debate.

The Business Council of Australia, the Urban Development Institute of Australia and Infrastructure Australia itself have rejected the changes as an attack on Infrastructure Australia’s independence.

Australia is one of the most urbanised nations in the world.

It is crucial that we get the planning right.

While Mr Abbott talks a lot about infrastructure investment and economic productivity, he fails to understand the need to provide the investment and leadership to link the two.

This opinion piece was published on The Big Smoke website today. 


Mar 19, 2014

Hunter Expressway to open

Labor welcomes Saturday’s opening of the Hunter Expressway, the largest ever infrastructure project in the Hunter region.

This project is a game changer for the Hunter.

The new four-lane, 40km road will improve road safety, boost productivity, create jobs, and ease congestion.

It will cut travel time between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley by 25 minutes.

Federal Labor funded the project in the 2009-10 Budget at a cost of $1.5 billion, as part of its economic stimulus plan. The NSW Government contributed $200 million.

Coalition MPs who opposed the economic stimulus plan in the Parliament will be among those lining up to celebrate the opening this weekend.

I am delighted with their about-turn in support of the local community.

Given the government’s strong track record lately renaming Labor Government funded projects as their own, I eagerly await the unveiling of the plaque to see if the Coalition will waste more money on another name change.

The people of the Hunter including the residents of Maitland, Cessnock, Branxton and many communities in between deserve to celebrate the opening of the Expressway they campaigned for.

Mar 14, 2014

Another Abbott re-announcement

The Abbott Government has continued to rewrite history by re-announcing Labor’s additional $42 million upgrade of a further section of Western Australia’s Great Eastern Highway as though it was a Coalition project.

Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss today “reaffirmed’’ the Commonwealth contribution to a $67.1 million upgrade of the highway between Walgoolan and Coolgardie.

Mr Truss knows that the outgoing Labor Government funded the project prior to last year’s federal election after negotiations with the WA State Government.

The Abbott Government has re-announced dozens of Labor infrastructure projects across the country since taking office.

For example, prior to last year’s federal election the Coalition did not match Labor’s plan to invest $500 million upgrading WA’s Great Northern and North West Coastal highways.

After the election it re-announced the projects, pretending they were Coalition initiatives, despite funding having been included in the Labor’s 2013-14 Budget.

While Labor is pleased Mr Truss is implementing its program, the Coalition should stop trying to mislead the public.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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