Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jan 29, 2014

Abbott seeks to gag independent adviser

URBAN planning experts have accused Tony Abbott of seeking to conceal deliberations about billions of dollars in public spending on roads and public transport.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia says proposed legislative changes to the operation of the independent Infrastructure Australia will make its operation “unacceptably opaque’’ and “open to subjective influence’’.

The assault on transparency follows Mr Abbott’s decision to ignore IA advice to invest in major urban public transport projects including Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project and the Melbourne Metro.

Mr Abbott refuses to work with the states to invest in public transport to ease traffic congestion in our cities.

Even worse, he wants to silence the independent experts who understand the importance of urban public transport to national productivity and jobs growth.

Mr Abbott’s tactic is simple: If you don’t like the advice, gag the adviser.

Labor created Infrastructure Australia in 2008 to provide independent, fact-based advice about which infrastructure projects have most potential to boost national economic productivity and drive job creation.

In office, Labor funded all of the 15 major projects on IA’s priority list – roads, railways lines and other projects.

We disconnected infrastructure planning from the political cycle because we wanted to end pork-barrelling.

Mr Abbott now wants a return to the old days where decisions about spending were made according to the electoral map, not the national interest.

His approach will worsen traffic congestion and prevent our cities, particularly Brisbane, developing and maintaining a proper, integrated transport system of the 21st century.

Efficient transport systems deliver economic growth and prosperity, which is what Australians need most given increasing pressure on the cost of living.

Last week IA head Michael Deegan warned in a submission that Mr Abbott’s changes would undermine IA’s independence.

NOTE: Submissions to the Senate inquiry on the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill 2013 can be found at: http://bit.ly/1e01zFF

 

 

Jan 28, 2014

Truss jets in to claim Labor projects

Infastructure Minister Warren Truss visited Port Lincoln Airport today to inspect the newly upgraded Port Lincoln Airport, funded by a $5.5 million grant from the former Federal Labor Government. The project has created up to 30 permanent full time jobs.

While I welcome the fact that Mr Truss has spent the new year touring Labor funded projects around the country, many of which he initially opposed or criticised as being wasteful, his time may be better spent explaining why he is now cutting grants to upgrade regional airports that were fully funded in the 2013 Labor Budget.

This includes $10 million that Labor allocated in the 2013 Federal Budget to upgrade the Whitsunday Coast Airport, which was set to create 50 local jobs and provide a huge boost to the thriving local tourism industry, with a runway extension catering for larger aircraft such as A330’s.

Labor’s press release confirming the funding to Whitsunday Coast Airport is available here: http://www.alp.org.au/cm19_190813

Mr Truss has also cut Port Lincoln Council’s grant of $109,915 for local community infrastructure that the council was allocated under Round 5 of the Regional Development Infrastructure Fund.

Labor introduced the fund to boost jobs and local infrastructure, and improve the quality of life for local communities. Mr Truss announced on 4 December 2013 that the Abbott Government would cut the grants, even though they were included in the 2013 Budget.

The press release by Mr Truss confirming the Abbott Government has cut community funding in every local council area is available here: http://www.warrentruss.com/release.php?id=2146

Whilst it is one thing to tour the nation celebrating the completion or commencement of Labor funded infrastructure projects, he should explain the cuts he has made to community infrastructure.

Mr Truss even visited Cairns to re-announce Labor’s Cape York Infrastructure Package which was funded in the 2013 federal Labor budget and visited the work on a range of Labor funded projects, such as the Princes Highway East in Victoria and the Pacific Highway on the NSW North Coast between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale.

At each visit Mr Truss has neglected to mention that funding was approved by past Budgets under the former Labor Government.

Jan 23, 2014

Abbott blind spot on public transport

Recent progress on the Regional Rail Link is already showing the benefits that come from federal and state governments working together to fund urban public transport, Shadow Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese said today in Melbourne.

Visiting West Footscray station with Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts, Mr Albanese said that the Regional Rail Link had created thousands of jobs and would boost productivity, as well as reducing travel time for residents of Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

“Congestion is a handbrake on the economy, and right now it’s costing Australia $13 billion every year, making people’s commutes longer and hampering productivity” Anthony Albanese said.

“By refusing to fund public transport Tony Abbott is just making it worse. We know that just building more roads alone just means more congestion over time. You’ve got to have public transport as well.”

The Regional Rail Link is also benefitting drivers with 25,000 drivers using Anderson Road no longer waiting for trains at a Sunshine level crossing following its removal as part of the construction program.

The Regional Rail Link is Melbourne’s first new major rail line for 80 years.

The previous Federal Labor Government provided $3.2 billion funding for the project – the largest Commonwealth investment in urban public transport in Australia’s history.

Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts called on the Prime Minister to maintain funding for the Melbourne Metro, urging him not to cut the $3 billion that Labor included for the project in the 2013 Federal Budget.

“Denis Napthine said that a Federal Liberal Government was ‘prepared to have ongoing discussions on key infrastructure like the metro rail tunnel’ but Tony Abbott just isn’t listening” Tim Watts said.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about boosting our economy and improving quality of life he would maintain the funding for the Melbourne Metro.

“If he cuts the funding, he’s consigning every Victorian commuter to more congestion, and more time stuck in traffic instead of at home with their families.”

When complete, Regional Rail Link will provide capacity for an extra 23 metropolitan services during each morning and evening peak period, allowing more Victorians to use sustainable public transport.

 

Jan 21, 2014

Labor reforms keep Australia moving

One year after Australia’s new transport regulators opened for business, Labor’s historic reforms are helping to increasing productivity and efficiency and reducing paperwork and compliance costs, while keeping workers safe on the job.

The changes are expected to boost national income by $30 billion over the next two decades including $12.4 billion in productivity gains in the heavy vehicle transport industry, which moves over 70% of Australian domestic freight.

The reforms, delivered by Labor in government after five years of intense negotiations with states and territories, replaced separate 23 state and territory regulators with just three national agencies.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is Brisbane based and next month will introduce a single national heavy vehicle rule book replacing multiple sets of regulations on road access, vehicle configuration, and fatigue management.

The Adelaide-based National Rail Safety Regulator has introduced a single annual accreditation fees for operators, a national safety compliance system and a new rail communication and a new signalling system replacing 22 previous systems.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority continues to be headquartered in Canberra, with seafarers no longer burdened by seven different marine regulatory systems, replaced by a single set of rules for all domestic commercial vessels.

It is also more than six months since the Navigation Act 2012 commenced, replacing the century old Navigation Act 1912 with a modern maritime safety regime. Almost all of Australia’s exports are shipped, making a safe, efficient system vital.

It took a Labor Government and a great deal of hard work to deliver these reforms.  Lasting, effective reform requires vision, collaboration and the ability to unite a broad range of stakeholders under a common vision.

In contrast, Tony Abbott’s continued attack on good reforms, starting with his so-called ‘review’ into the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, simply to pursue his ideological agenda will damage our competitiveness and fairness as a nation.

Jan 17, 2014

Government reannounces Labor’s Cape York Package

In a breathtaking display, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch have reannounced Labor’s $210 million Cape York Infrastructure Package, which was included in the 2013 Labor Government Budget.

I announced this package in Cairns on 13 June 2013 with the then Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories, Catherine King and Senator Jan McLucas. A copy of the media release is attached.

At the time of the Liberal National Party failed to support this investment – now they say it’s a great idea.

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.

It’s clear from the statement that calls this reannouncement “a solid foundation for building on our Northern Australia policy” that this is also a sham.

When I announced the $210m funding commitment in June 2013 the Newman Government failed to support it.

Attached: 13 June 2013 Media Release “Investing in Cape York Roads and Infrastructure”

Jan 14, 2014

Abbott must get serious about tourism

Tony Abbott must get serious about the lucrative tourism industry, with even his own political allies now attacking his refusal to appoint a Minister for Tourism.

Former Howard Government tourism minister Fran Bailey and industry figures today called on the Prime Minister to lift his commitment to the sector, which contributes $98 billion a year to the economy and employs more than half a million Australians.

The industry is very nervous and restless about it when they can see the focus so many other competitor governments are putting into tourism. I would be hoping that as the government settles in and starts to reassess some of its appointments it will realise that a $98bn industry covering almost the whole of government does need a senior dedicated minister.”

Fran Bailey, The Australian, January 7, 2014

http://bit.ly/1lykb2F

Ms Bailey is right.

With at least half a million jobs involved, Mr Abbott must make the health of this vital sector his business, not discount it as an after-thought.

Tourism matters to our economy and to workers and it should matter enough for the government to have a dedicated minister.

If we don’t take it seriously, the tourists whose visits generate jobs and economic activity in our nation will go somewhere else.

Labor, Ms Bailey and the tourism sector understand the need for a minister to ensure the industry is given the priority it deserves as a major employer.

Mr Abbott is the odd man out here and should admit his error and appoint a minister.

Since the Coalition took office, its administration of tourism has been a comedy of errors.

Mr Abbott initially forgot to assign the tourism portfolio in his first ministry, before belatedly handing it to Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Since then the Government buck-passed all responsibility for domestic tourism to state governments and has scrapped grants designed to lift investment in the sector.

 

Jan 9, 2014

Labor fighting for SchoolKids bonus

LABOR is calling on people power to force Tony Abbott to reverse his plan to abolish the SchoolKids Bonus, which helps about 4500 Grayndler families with the costs of education.

This week more than a million families across Australia will receive the SchoolKids Bonus, introduced by Labor to help low and middle-income families cope with the cost of uniforms, books, school camps and other essentials.

But if Tony Abbott gets his way, this January’s SchoolKids Bonus will be the last.

I’m calling on Australians to sign Labor’s petition on the bonus to send a clear message to the Prime Minister that he must reconsider this wrong-headed decision.

Scrapping the bonus means the average family with two children will be $1230 worse off every year.

Sign our petition and tell Tony Abbott his plans will hurt families and deny hundreds of thousands of Australian children fair access to a good education.

If you and I show our support, we can show the Coalition Government that the SchoolKids Bonus matters and stop Mr Abbott’s cruel cuts from hurting Australian families.

Follow this link to sign Labor’s petition.

Jan 8, 2014

Abbott wrong on urban public transport

The Commonwealth’s independent expert adviser on infrastructure has rejected Tony Abbott’s hands-off approach to urban public transport, calling for greater integration of road and passenger rail to reduce traffic congestion.

While the Prime Minister wants to focus on roads and leave states to fund urban passenger rail, a recently released report by Infrastructure Australia argues that any discussion about urban transport must consider roads and public transport together.

This is a sensible approach. But Mr Abbott refuses to invest in public transport.

The IA report makes clear policy makers need to be more flexible.

The Office of the National Infrastructure Coordinator believes it is critical that any discussion on urban transport needs to consider roads and public transport together, since greater use of one may result in less use of the other and funds allocated to one are not able to be allocated to the other.

Infrastructure Australia, Urban transport Strategy, page 5 

The previous Labor Government delivered record funding for urban public transport while also doubling spending on roads.

But since taking office Mr Abbott has scrapped plans for federal investment in major public transport projects like Brisbane’s proposed Cross River Rail project, the Melbourne Metro, Adelaide’s Tonsley line upgrade and passenger rail projects in Perth.

This approach is a recipe for worsening traffic congestion.

Investing only in roads and ignoring urban public transport will ensure commuters spend more time in their cars travelling to and from work than they do at home with their kids.

Better public transport not only improves our quality of life, but if more commuters use trains there will be more room on roads for the efficient movement of freight.

It is critical that Mr Abbott work with states to ensure scarce public resources are invested in forms of transport than do the most to boost national productivity.

Infrastructure Australia’s report can be found at:

http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Urban_Transport_Strategy_Paper_FINAL.pdf

 

Jan 7, 2014

Abbott must get serious about tourism

Tony Abbott must get serious about the lucrative tourism industry, with even his own political allies now attacking his refusal to appoint a Minister for Tourism.

Former Howard Government tourism minister Fran Bailey and industry figures today called on the Prime Minister to lift his commitment to the sector, which contributes $98 billion a year to the economy and employs more than half a million Australians.

The industry is very nervous and restless about it when they can see the focus so many other competitor governments are putting into tourism. I would be hoping that as the government settles in and starts to reassess some of its appointments it will realise that a $98bn industry covering almost the whole of government does need a senior dedicated minister.”

Fran Bailey, The Australian, January 7, 2014

http://bit.ly/1lykb2F

Ms Bailey is right.

With at least half a million jobs involved, Mr Abbott must make the health of this vital sector his business, not discount it as an after-thought.

Tourism matters to our economy and to workers and it should matter enough for the government to have a dedicated minister.

If we don’t take it seriously, the tourists whose visits generate jobs and economic activity in our nation will go somewhere else.

Labor, Ms Bailey and the tourism sector understand the need for a minister to ensure the industry is given the priority it deserves as a major employer.

Mr Abbott is the odd man out here and should admit his error and appoint a minister.

Since the Coalition took office, its administration of tourism has been a comedy of errors.

Mr Abbott initially forgot to assign the tourism portfolio in his first ministry, before belatedly handing it to Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Since then the Government buck-passed all responsibility for domestic tourism to state governments and has scrapped grants designed to lift investment in the sector.

 

Jan 3, 2014

Blame game on again – Opinion – The Guardian Australia

IT has only taken three months in government, but already Tony Abbott is re-animating the tired old intergovernmental blame game – this time over public transport.

Politicians who lack the vision to lead the community on big issues like public transport often hide their inaction by blaming other levels of government when anyone complains.

Former Prime Minister John Howard was a grand master of the blame game.

Mr Howard withdrew health and education funding and pointed his finger at state governments when anyone dared to ask about the inadequacy of health and education services.

Now, so soon after being elected, Tony Abbott and his team are feverishly laying the groundwork for a new round of the blame game to conceal their absurd refusal to invest in urban public transport.

As one of the most urbanized nations on earth, Australia has an economic interest in ensuring our cities have 21st century urban rail transport to reduce traffic congestion.

Less cars on the road means productivity and jobs growth because it allows for the more efficient movement of goods and services and encourages greater urban population density.

But Mr Abbott, in an extraordinary abdication of responsibility, says public transport is the concern of state governments while the Commonwealth should “stick to its knitting’’ and build more roads.

Labor believes this position is small-minded. We seek office to deliver positive change, not just to occupy office.

We also believe that when it comes to big issues central to national productivity, the national government should provide leadership, not go to ground and look for scapegoats to conceal its inaction.

That’s why the previous Labor Government allocated funding for vital public transport projects including the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Link, the Perth Airport link and early work on a light rail system for Perth.

While such projects could have eliminated traffic congestion and turbo-charged economic growth in our cities, Mr Abbott has refused to honour the funding commitments.

And in recent weeks it has become clear that Mr Abbott’s political strategy in the face of criticism of his position will be to blame states.

In a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in November, Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos said the new government’s focus on roads would allow states to spend more on public transport.

“If they do not, then that is a decision for which they are accountable to their electorates,’’ Senator Sinodinos said.

In Perth in July Mr Abbott said: “If we can give more support to major road projects, that obviously makes it easier for the state government to invest in significant rail projects.’’ 

In other words, the commonwealth won’t spend a penny on public transport and if anyone complains, it will say the states are responsible.

It is sad that this is the best policy stance the Coalition can offer after six years in Opposition.

Resort to the blame-game position might provide political cover for a lazy government, but it will do absolutely nothing to advance the national interest.

What if Mr Abbott and Senator Sinodinos are right and increases in commonwealth road spending will lead to more state spending on public transport?

They aren’t right.

 

In recent weeks the NSW, Queensland and Western Australian state governments released mid-year budget reviews which all showed increased debt and deficit and, therefore, reduced ability to invest in public transport.

 

The WA Government went so far as to shelve $898 million in infrastructure spending, including delaying for three years work on the $464 million MAX Light rail project.

 

In Brisbane, the Liberal-National Party Queensland Government has dumped the proposed Cross River Railway in favour of a B-grade substitute to be delivered without commonwealth support.

 

In Melbourne, the Napthine Government will not build a Metro. Instead, it will accept commonwealth funding to build the $8 billion East-West Road – a project that has not even produced a full business case for approval by the independent Infrastructure Australia.

 

Last month The Age reported that the Victorian Government’s own secret analysis had found the East-West Road would not solve traffic congestion, but simply move it from one area to another.

 

In Sydney, Mr Abbott will fund the WestConnex project, which also has not produced a full business case, despite Mr Abbott’s claim that any big project he funds will be the subject of a cost-benefit analysis.

 

Putting all of this together, it is clear states either cannot or will not invest in public transport without partnership contributions from the Commonwealth.

 

And since we know that Tony Abbott won’t invest in anything except roads, the prospects for advancement of a public transport agenda are dim at best.

 

What a tragedy.

 

Anthony Albanese is the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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