Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
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.

May 22, 2014

Government reannounces Labor’s Tasmanian roads funding

Tony Abbott headlined at the Coalition’s magical mystery infrastructure reannouncement tour stop in Tasmania today, where he tried to pretend a road project already fully funded by the former Labor Government in the 2013-14 Budget was new spending.

The $25.6 million upgrade of the Brooker Highway that the Prime Minister reannounced today was fully funded in the 2013-14 Budget by the former Labor Government.

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/building-and-planning-for-tasmanias-future

Once again, when it comes to infrastructure the Abbott Government has no new ideas and no new investment.

Since taking office the Abbott Government has re-announced literally dozens of Labor projects in an attempt to build credibility on infrastructure.

Mr Abbott has also cut every dollar of funding for the planning of Hobart’s Light Rail project and his commitment to reduce local government funding for local roads will hit Tasmanian councils hard.

Mr Abbott has also ripped $100 million out of the Midland Highway project and walked away from his promise of full duplication.

When Labor took office in 2007, Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD in terms of infrastructure development as a proportion of GDP.

Because of Labor’s record investment in infrastructure, Australia now ranks 1st.

 

May 22, 2014

Abbott breaks promise to duplicate Midland Highway, cuts funding

Tony Abbott has broken his promise to fully duplicate the Midland Highway in Tasmania and slashed $100 million of existing funding from the project.

Before the election Tony Abbott promised that the Coalition Government would fully duplicate the Midland Highway in Tasmania.

http://www.examiner.com.au/story/157449/well-fund-four-lane-midland-highway-abbott

He also insisted that it could be done for just $400 million despite it being a multi-billion dollar project.

JOURNALIST: The question was how far would you expect $400 million to go out of a 200 kilometre highway?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, my understanding is that there’s 120 kilometres that is yet to be duplicated. My understanding is that on standard construction costs, it should be possible to complete the duplication with $400 million.

JOURNALIST: State government says about $2 billion.

TONY ABBOTT: Well my understanding is that the $2 billion estimate is for a completely new road and we’re not proposing a completely new road. We are proposing a very substantial upgrade; that’s what we’re proposing and we believe on standard road construction costs that it’s doable for $400 million.

http://www.tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/tonys-doorstop

But when asked today if $400 million would be enough to fully duplicate the Midland Highway he said:

TONY ABBOTT: It will certainly make a pretty big difference. I hope it will. In the end, this is the kind of thing we will be working in partnership with the Tasmanian Government to achieve. It is our objective to get the highway duplicated the Launceston whole way between Hobart and Launceston and that $400 million is going to make an enormous contribution towards that.

Tony Abbott has walked away from his commitment to Tasmanians to duplicate the Midland Highway.

Worse still, he has cut $100 million of existing funding for this project that was already allocated in the 2013-14 Budget by the former Labor Government.

The former Labor Government allocated $500 million to the funding of the Midland Highway in the 2013-14 Budget.

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/building-and-planning-for-tasmanias-future

The 2014-15 Coalition Government Budget shows a $100 million cut to this funding.

Mr Abbott has also cut every dollar of funding for the planning of Hobart’s Light Rail project and his commitment to reduce local government funding for local roads will hit Tasmanian councils hard.

Today the Prime Minister tried to hide these sweeping cuts by reannouncing another former Labor Government project fully funded in the 2013-14 Federal Budget, the $25.6 million upgrade of the Brooker Highway.

Every Tasmanian can see through Tony Abbott’s infrastructure con.

It’s about time he came clean with Tasmanians and admitted that his only infrastructure plan is cuts and broken promises.

Once again, when it comes to infrastructure the Abbott Government has no new ideas and no new investment.

Since taking office the Abbott Government has re-announced literally dozens of Labor projects in an attempt to build credibility on infrastructure.

When Labor took office in 2007, Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD in terms of infrastructure development as a proportion of GDP.

Because of Labor’s record investment in infrastructure, Australia now ranks 1st.

 

May 22, 2014

Goverment reannounces Labor’s Northern Territory roads package

The Coalition Government’s magical mystery infrastructure reannouncement tour has taken to Central Australia, where it has tried to hide the lack of a single extra dollar for the NT in this year’s Budget by re-announcing the $90 million Regional Roads Productivity Package, funded in 2013-14 by the former Labor Government.

The 2014-15 Budget did not contain a single extra dollar for a single metre of new road in the NT.

I announced the Regional Roads Productivity Package for the Northern Territory on 2 August 2012 with the former Northern Territory Labor Government:

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/encouraging-productivity-by-investing-in-territory-bush-roads

Funding was included as part of the 2013-14 Labor Government Budget:

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/2013-budget-real-money-for-projects-in-the-nt

The Abbott Government is deliberately misleading the community by trying to pretend this is new money.

Once again, when it comes to infrastructure the Abbott Government has no new ideas and no new investment.

Since taking office the Abbott Government has re-announced literally dozens of Labor projects in an attempt to build credibility on infrastructure.

When Labor took office in 2007, Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD in terms of infrastructure development as a proportion of GDP.

Because of Labor’s record investment in infrastructure, Australia now ranks 1st.

 

 

May 21, 2014

Abbott drives up council rates

Tony Abbott’s senseless cuts to funding of local roads are set to force councils to lift municipal rates in the latest fall-out from last week’s Budget.

Despite claiming to have increased road funding in the Budget,  Mr Abbott in fact froze financial assistance grants to the nation’s councils – the equivalent of almost a $1 billion cut across the forward estimates.

Mayors across the nation are warning the move will force them to cut road funding, reduce services or increase rates, while the Local Government Association has condemned the change, which comes on top of Mr Abbott’s attempt to cut health and education funding to the states by $80 billion.

As the dust settles on the Budget it is becoming increasingly clear that Mr Abbott want to re-ignite the old inter-governmental blame game that plagued the Howard Government, in which he was a senior minister.

Local councils rely upon Commonwealth road funding to maintain local roads.

What’s more, this size of the cut will only grow year by year, as it is designed to do.

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

In the seventh year, the cut will exceed the 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.

Reducing funding will make roads less efficient when it comes to moving produce to market and will also reduce road safety.

Labor believes in working with other levels of government to provide the services and infrastructure that communities require.

May 21, 2014

Melbourne deserves first-rate transport

Tony Abbott has slammed the brakes on productivity and jobs growth in Melbourne by scrapping $3 billion in funding for the Melbourne Metro project.

Mr Abbott’s ill-advised cut is behind the Napthine Government’s recent decision to redraw the Metro project into a second-rate option that does not even go through Melbourne’s central business district.

It also ignores the advice of Infrastructure Australia, which last year rated the original, Commonwealth-backed Metro proposal number one on its list of Victorian infrastructure projects in terms of its ability to deliver productivity gains.

Traffic congestion in Melbourne and other Australian cities inhibits productivity growth.

All levels of government should carefully invest in integrated transport systems including roads and rail.

But Mr Abbott has walked away from billions of dollars of Commonwealth investment in urban rail around the nation, purely because of his bizarre prejudice against investing in public transport.

Melbourne is a first-rate city and deserves better than a second-rate transport system.

Mr Abbott’s only Budget contribution to easing Melbourne’s traffic congestion was his investment in the East-West Link road project, which has not been the subject of a final business case despite Mr Abbott’s pre-election promise of a rigorous cost-benefit analysis for any project worth more than $100 million.

On its 2013 Infrastructure Priority list, Infrastructure Australia rated the East-West Link a lower priority than the Metro, noting that it was in “the initial stages of development’’.

Labor supports investment in roads as well as rail projects – provided they are independently assessed and found to have the potential to boost productivity.

Mr Abbott might not like public transport, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics says more than one million Melbourne residents use it at least once a month, including half a million people who use it at least three times a week to go to work or to the footy on weekends.

And the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has forecast ongoing annual growth in public transport use that will lift demand for public transport by one third between now and 2030.

Mr Abbott is letting Melbourne down.

He is more interested in cuts and ideology than in ensuring Melbourne has a transport system fit for the 21st century.

 

May 19, 2014

Abbott breaks promise to increase tourism funding

Tourism operators promised more funding in the 2013-14 Budget have been left with less after the Abbott Government cut funding to Tourism Australia.

Despite Mr Robb’s promise just the day before the Budget that Tourism Australia would receive an increase, the Budget papers show the agency will have fewer resources this year than last year.

“We’re actually increasing the budget for Tourism Australia because it’s one of the drivers of prosperity” –  Andrew Robb

Aussie tourism set for boost’, 12 May 2014
Link: Tourism Australia Budget Statements, Portfolio Budget Statements, p.173.

It is clear that the Coalition’s failure to appoint a Tourism Minister, leaving Australia without one for the first time in more than 40 years, is hurting the sector and making it an easy target for cuts around the Cabinet table.

Mr Robb’s Budget announcement on tourism also tries to disguise cuts of more than $7.5 million to the Tourism Industry Regional Fund (TIRF).

The Tourism Industry Regional Fund provided grants to regional tourism operators who could provide matching private investment for job boosting tourism projects.

Over 450 tourism operators had over $10 million in private matching capital ready to go for tourism projects before the government axed the program months ago.

That private capital, now lost, would have boosted regional economies and created jobs.

Every dollar spent in the tourism sector generates another 92 cents  across the Australian economy.

The Coalition Government should show some real interest in helping the tourism sector instead of breaking promises, costing jobs and hurting private investment.

It is little wonder that tourism lost in the Budget given the sector has no serious representation around the Cabinet table.

 

 

May 16, 2014

Abbott invests in traffic congestion

Tony Abbott is ignoring his own advice by backing a detailed Westconnex project that will not take traffic to the Sydney CBD or freight to Port Botany.

In his 2009 book Battlelines, Mr Abbott correctly identified the key objectives of long-proposed M4 and M5 upgrade, noting on page 175 that:

Sydney, for instance, should fill the gaps between the CBD and the M4 at Strathfield…. There should be a link between the northern beaches and the city and between the western suburbs at Port Botany.

But in a joint statement issued today with NSW Premier Mike Baird, Mr Abbott outlined a Westconnex project that does not deliver either of these transport imperatives.

The statement makes clear that Stage I is an extension to Haberfield, not to the CBD, and Stage II goes from Beverley Hills to St Peters. Port Botany is not at St Peters.

On its current design, Westconnex will dump traffic into the already congested area to the west of the airport.

It will be little more than a road to a traffic jam.

In his haste to appear decisive, Mr Abbott is backing a proposal that does not meet the traffic needs of Sydney as he outlined in his own book.

Properly targeted investment in upgrading and building roads can drive genuine improvements in economic productivity and create jobs.

That includes getting people to the city and freight to the port.

It is therefore critical that Mr Abbott gets the planning right.

His approach risks wasting scarce public funds and inconveniencing communities without delivering the desired productivity gain.

Labor supports investment in an integrated transport system incorporating both roads and rail.

Mr Abbott’s Budget, delivered on Tuesday, scrapped billions of dollars in funding previously allocated to urban rail projects around the country because of his bizarre prejudice against public transport.

Now, as he moves to his preference of investing on roads, Mr Abbott is at risk of making the wrong call when it come comes to the planning detail on Westconnex.

He should take his own advice and go back to the drawing board to ensure the project delivers on its stated aims.

 

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