Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Dec 23, 2013

Abbott must repudiate IPA extremism

LABOR condemns the contemptible push by right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs to dismantle reforms designed to improve productivity and preserve jobs in the Australian maritime industry.

The IPA’s call in The Australian today for foreign-flagged ships to be exempt from requirements that they pay crews Australian-level wages can have only one outcome – job losses.

Tony Abbott, already under pressure for doing nothing to prevent thousands of job losses at companies including Holden and Qantas, must reject the IPA’s dogma immediately.

Jobs might not matter to the IPA or its fellow travellers in the Coalition, but they matter to the 10,000 breadwinners who work in the Australian maritime sector.

In government Labor delivered reforms requiring that if a foreign-flagged vessel delivering goods to an Australian port sought to take on goods for transport between Australian ports, the ship’s owner must pay Australian-level wages while travelling on the domestic sector.

This sensible reform was designed to ensure the Australian maritime fleet could compete on a level playing field against foreign operators paying Third World wages.

Australian wages for those working in Australia – only an ideologue could oppose this principle.

These reforms were also designed to maintain a viable local shipping sector as a source of jobs for our young people and to support national security by ensuring a strong Australian presence in our coastal waterways.

Now the IPA says it is more important to cut transport costs for foreign shippers rather than ensure the Australian shipping industry is viable.

Tony Abbott and his team learned from the bitter experience of their grossly unfair Work Choices legislation that Australians value workplace fairness.


Dec 17, 2013

Abbott wipes hands of public transport

Tony Abbott has wiped his hands of addressing traffic congestion in the nation’s cities by scrapping billions of dollars of investment in commonwealth investment in public transport.

The Prime Minister’s irresponsible refusal to back urban rail will further choke the nation’s urban roads and stunt rates of productivity growth and job creation.

This comes on top of his total lack of a cities policy, as shown by his abolition of Labor’s Liveable Cities Program and Major Cities Unit.

The Coalition’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement, released today, shows Mr Abbott will renege on previous Labor commitments to fund a series of visionary public transport projects including:

  • Melbourne Metro;
  • Brisbane Cross River Rail;
  • Hobart Light Rail;
  • Tonsley Park Public Transport Project;
  • Perth Public Transport Package;
  • Gawler Rail Line Electrification;
  • Adelaide Transport Movement Study; and
  • Perth Airport Rail.

All of these public transport projects are aimed at clearing city roads of traffic congestion, which not only frustrates commuters, but is also a brake on productivity and jobs growth because it slows the movement of goods and services.

Australia’s economic health depends on having vibrant cities where people and goods can move freely and where businesses can thrive.

However, the abolition of the Liveable Cities Program will end co-operation between the commonwealth as states and territories on urban design, while scrapping the major cities unit effectively robs the federal bureaucracy of urban planning expertise.

Mr Abbott does not understand the connection between urban policy and prosperity, not to mention the responsibility of government to ensure cities are pleasant places to live.

His only contribution to cities policy is his plan to build more roads.

On Infrastructure Australia’s independent advice, our cities require investment in both road and rail.


Dec 17, 2013

Joyce making it up on road funding

Barnaby Joyce is rewriting history by seeking credit for road works in his New England electorate that were funded by the previous Labor Government.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Joyce claimed he had secured $80 million to realign the 3km Bolivia Hill section of the New England Highway.

That’s nonsense. He’s making it up.

This project was funded in the 2013/14 Budget, announced in the Budget and reported in the local newspaper at the time.

The Federal Budget brought down last week has included $80 million in funding for the Bolivia Hill realignment.     

Tenterfield Star, May 22, 2013

The money was in the Budget. It’s there in black and white.

I visited the Bolivia Hill site in 2011 with MP Tony Windsor, who showed me how this upgrade was necessary to improve safety on this dangerous stretch of road.

After years of negativity in Opposition, the Coalition has so few plans for actually governing that it is being forced to re-announce Labor projects to make itself look busy.

Mr Joyce is not the only conservative politician making things up about road funding.

Yesterday NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay claimed the Abbott Government had allocated $220 million for the Bolivia Hill.

Upgrade, climbing lanes at Mount Ousley on the M1 Princes Highway, the construction of a level crossing at Scone and the Tourle Street Bridge duplication at Newcastle Port.

Again, the fact is that all of these projects were funded in the 2013-14 Budget.

Rather than misleading people about who funded what, Mr Joyce and Mr Gay should get work under way for these critical projects as soon as possible.


Dec 16, 2013

Abbott backflips on Labor investment

Labor welcomes Tony Abbott’s decision to backflip and honour $1 billion in regional infrastructure investment allocated by the previous Labor Government.

But the Opposition condemns the Prime Minister for having attempted to renege on the fully funded grants, inflicting months of needless uncertainty on communities across the nation.

Funding for the $1 billion worth of road and other infrastructure investment, flagged by the Government in media reports today, is not new.

All of the projects, including $500 million for upgrades of Western Australia’s Great Northern and North West Coastal highways, road works in South Australia’s APY Lands and the Cape York Regional Fund, were announced by the previous Labor Government .

All were fully funded in the 2013-14 Budget and announced on Budget day or in subsequent weeks.

After taking office, Mr Abbott claimed there was no money for these important projects, even though they were fully funded in the Budget.

Today’s backflip – an admission that funds were available – follows weeks of Labor pressure in Parliament.

While Labor welcomes the spending, let’s not forget that Mr Abbott just attempted to rob regional Australia of $1 billion in infrastructure spending.

These grants were designed to drive economic activity and job creation in regional Australia and they should have been honoured from day one.

But Mr Abbott tried to renege, only to change his mind under political pressure.

The Abbott Government is continuing what is clearly the worst transition from Opposition to Government in history.

It has come to office with no positive plans because it spent its entire period in Opposition being negative.

Now that Mr Abbott has decided to honour these investments, Labor  calls on the Prime Minister to honour grants for important urban public transport projects like Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and the Melbourne Metro that were also funded in the Labor Government’s last Budget.




Dec 13, 2013

Hapless Baldwin claims credit for Labor program

Tony Abbott’s key tourism spokesman has been caught seeking personal political credit for Government grants funded last July from a program he has specifically been tasked with scrapping.

Parliamentary Secretary for Industry Bob Baldwin posted on Facebook images of himself on 29 November “announcing’’ a $110,00 grant to a NSW koala sanctuary under the previous Labor Government’s T-QUAL program, designed to help improve the quality of tourism attractions.

In fact, Labor announced the grant and 88 others worth a total of $8.5 million on July 26 this year – well before the election of the Abbott Government.

On October 29 Mr Baldwin told the Tourism Directions Conference in Canberra the T-QUAL scheme would be scrapped and the money instead spent on infrastructure.

That was confirmed in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing on November 21 when a senior public servant revealed that Mr Baldwin’s only role in tourism was to shut down the grants program.

The role for Parliamentary Secretary Baldwin is to wind up the current discretionary grants program and then his role will cease in tourism. 

Deborah Lewis, General Manager, Tourism Australia,

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

21 November 2013

The Coalition has so little interest in tourism that it has to resort to the pathetic tactic of stealing Labor announcements to pretend it is engaged with the sector.

Rather than re-announcing Labor initiatives, Mr Baldwin would be better occupied pressing his colleagues to get serious about tourism, which provides precious jobs right across the nation.



Mr Baldwin’s Facebook posts showing him posing with koalas at Oakvale Farm and Fauna World in Port Stephens can be viewed hereThey are also included in the attached full version of this media release.

Labor’s announcement of the same grant on July 26, 2013, can be seen here.



Dec 12, 2013

NSW flags Abbott road funding cuts

The New South Wales Government has revealed it expects Tony Abbott to slash commonwealth road funding by $70 million this financial year.

The NSW Half Yearly Review, published today, indicates the Commonwealth will reduce its payments to NSW under national partnerships agreements by $180 million this year.

The review (at page 11) says this will involve a $70 million reduction in roads funding.

This will cause deferral of planned upgrades of the Pacific Highway, the Newell Highway and the Greater Western Highway, the report says.

This decision comes on top of $8 billion in Commonwealth infrastructure spending cuts announced by the Coalition prior to the election.

Since then the Coalition has also abandoned $150 million in grants to councils to fund community facilities. This will hit council budgets and compromise the ability of councils to fix local roads.

This week, the Coalition also rammed legislation through the Parliament allowing for political interference into the operation of Infrastructure Australia.

When you add these actions to Tony Abbott’s complete refusal to fund public transport projects, it is clear the Government is intent on demolishing the previous Labor Government’s nation building approach to infrastructure.

Australians deserve well-maintained roads for the safety of motorists and the efficient transport of freight.

The Abbott Government clearly does not understand the link between growth in economic productivity and efficient roads, railways lines and ports.

The inevitable result will be reduced economic productivity and lower growth in jobs.

NOTE: The NSW Half-Yearly Review can be found at:



Dec 10, 2013

More Coalition disarray over road funding

WEST Australians deserve clarity from the Abbott Government over critical major highway upgrades in their state amid ongoing disarray among its senior ministers over their intentions on road funding.

In Question Time today, Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs described proposed upgrades of the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal Highway as important projects.

But when he was asked if the Abbott Government would fund the projects to commence next year, as Labor had provided for in the 2013/14 Budget, Mr Briggs said: “Stay tuned’’.

This lack of a firm commitment is at odds with Mr Briggs’ claim on November 6 that the Government was committed to funding the highway projects.

As the Finance Minister said before the election, we are committed to those projects – the Great Northern Highway and the North West Coastal – because they are extremely important projects.

Jamie Briggs interview, 6PR, November 6, 2013 

His comments are also at odds with Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss’s advice to Parliament on November 21 that the government had not allocated funding for the projects.

These ministers appear to have no idea what they are doing. They are meant to be working together, but they can’t get on the same page.

People in WA deserve something more concrete than these mixed messages.

The Abbott Government has also cut $500 million to public transport projects in WA.

It is now very clear the Coalition has come to office with no plan to govern beyond trashing anything associated with Labor.

These two highway projects, together worth nearly $500 million, are aimed at lifting safety standards on these roads and boosting WA’s economic productivity.

Efficient roads improve economic productivity and that creates jobs. Safer roads save lives.

Given that funding of these projects is in the existing Budget left by the former Labor Government, Mr Truss and Mr Briggs should just get on with the job.


Dec 10, 2013

Truss bill will gut Infrastructure Australia

Warren Truss is seeking to engineer a return to the political pork barrelling of the Howard era with legislation preventing Infrastructure Australia from providing unbiased advice to government.

The Infrastructure Minister’s proposed changes will undermine Infrastructure Australia’s independence, risking the productivity gains and new jobs that come from proper planning for the delivery of new roads, railway lines and other critical projects.

Labor created Infrastructure Australia in 2008 to assess the nation’s infrastructure needs and prioritise big projects on the basis of their likely contribution to lifting national productivity.

The new approach was in part an attempt to stamp out the pork barrelling of the Howard era through programs such as the discredited Regional Partnerships Program.

However, Mr Truss’s Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill 2013 will undo Labor’s reforms, giving him the power to direct Infrastructure Australia’s considerations by telling it which projects to assess and which to ignore.

It will allow Mr Truss to order Infrastructure Australia to assess his pet projects or to totally ignore projects that do not suit his political ambitions or agenda.

The previous Labor Government did not issue orders to Infrastructure Australia.

We wanted it to produce independent analysis as a basis for non-political government decision-making.


Dec 9, 2013

Labor introduces high-speed rail bill

Labor has introduced a Bill to Parliament to begin preserving the corridor for the future construction of a high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne.

Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese’s Private Member’s Bill would also create an authority to oversee planning for the project.

Mr Albanese introduced the Bill to the House of Representatives today, calling on Parliament to begin planning now for the project, found to be viable in a study he released in April.

“We can anticipate that an increasing population and the growing need for a carbon-constrained economy will drive the economics of this project ever more positively over time,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“A challenge of this scale needs serious forward planning. The first step is to begin to secure the corridor.

The Bill would establish an 11-member planning authority including representatives of the Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victorian governments as well as representatives of local government, the Australasian Railways Association and other industry experts.

“Planning is not a political issue,’’ Mr Albanese said. “It’s just commonsense. Big ideas don’t happen without leadership.

“The states, councils and landholders along the possible route have a very direct interest in ensuring that, if this project is viable, an orderly a process is in place to bring it to fruition. 

“Vision is important in governing nations. Nation builders need the ability to both anticipate and create the future.

The High Speed Rail Study Phase 2 Report, found population and employment growth along the east coast of Australia in coming years would challenge the capacity of our existing modes of transport.

Travel on the east coast of Australia was forecast to grow about 1.8 per cent per year over the next two decades and to increase by about 60 per cent by 2035.

Further, the report said that east coast trips will double from 152 million trips in 2009 to 355 million trips in 2065.

Road and air travel alone will not cope with this growth.

The report found that once the line was fully operational from 2065, high-speed rail could carry approximately 84 million passengers each year.

People would be able to travel Melbourne and Sydney in less than three hours – the same duration of an express trip from Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane.

The report found the optimal staging would involve building the Sydney-Melbourne line first, starting with the Sydney-Canberra sector.

This would produce a positive economic benefit of $2.15 for every dollar spent.

Later, building would continue from Canberra to Melbourne, Newcastle to Sydney, Brisbane to the Gold Coast and the Gold Coast to Newcastle.

The project would be a significant regional economic development initiative and would pass through centres including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga and Shepparton.

Mr Albanese’s High Speed Rail Authority Bill 2013 is the first Private Member’s Bill to be presented to the 44th Parliament.


Nov 28, 2013

Labor to fight for high-speed rail

Labor will introduce a Bill to Parliament to begin preserving the corridor for the future construction of a high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne.

Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese’s Private Member’s Bill would also create a special authority to oversee planning for the project.

Mr Albanese announced his plan in Sydney today at the AusRAIL conference, hosted by the Australasian Railway Association.

Mr Albanese also told the conference Tony Abbott’s refusal to fund urban rail public transport in cities would damage the Australian economy and cost jobs.

“High-speed rail is a visionary project that could change the face of transport in this nation and reduce our carbon emissions,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“If we don’t start planning now for the possibility of high-speed rail it will never happen.’’

In government Labor conducted a feasibility study that found a high-speed rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra would cost $114 billion and, if operational by 2065, would carry 84 million passengers a year.

Mr Albanese said that while the project had its skeptics and would need significant private investment, it made sense to secure a corridor now, rather than have to pay more down the track when the need for the project became more urgent.

“This is about the Commonwealth accepting its responsibility to provide leadership for a project of national importance and moving forward in an orderly way to progress the planning,’’ Mr Albanese said.

The Bill is in line with recommendations made by the High Speed Rail Advisory Group, which included former deputy prime minister and railway expert Tim Fischer, Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott and Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye.

It will propose the establishment of an 11-person authority including representatives from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT as well as representatives of the Commonwealth, local government and the Australasian Railway Association.

The authority would report to Parliament annually about its progress.

In his speech to the ARA, Mr Albanese also questioned Mr Abbott’s refusal to contribute to important passenger rail projects like Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Project, the Melbourne Metro, the Perth Airport Link and Adelaide’s Tonsley Park Public Transport Project.

Mr Abbott believes the Commonwealth has no role to play in urban public transport and will instead confine his government’s infrastructure spending to roads.

Describing Mr Abbott’s position as “economic folly,’’ Mr Albanese said urban congestion was an acknowledged brake on economic productivity and job-creation.

Allowing urban congestion to intensify unchecked would damage retard job growth.

“Mr Abbott’s doctrinaire, anti-public-transport approach will damage the economy by stalling productivity growth,’’ Mr Albanese said.


Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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