Browsing articles in "Speeches Archive"
Jul 18, 2018

Speech to the Inland Rail Conference – Getting Inland Rail Right – Parkes – Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Let me start by congratulating the Australasian Railway Association and the Australian Logistics Council for staging this important conference.

With day-to-day politics dominating the media, it’s always a good idea to take time out for serious consideration of policy issues that bear upon the national interest.

When we are talking about construction of a 1700km freight rail line servicing some of our nation’s most-important agricultural precincts, the national interest looms large.

Inland Rail will become one of the nation’s most important pieces of infrastructure.

It will still be in use a century from now.

That means we need to get it right.

That’s why as the Federal Minister I commissioned the comprehensive study into the project. The Labor Government subsequently invested $600 million in upgrading the existing tracks that will form part of the route and allocated a further $300 million in the 2013 Budget to progress the project.

Today I reconfirm Labor’s support for this classic nation building project.

It’s the sort of infrastructure that will drive development by improving access to reliable freight transport, particularly for primary producers.

Quicker passage of goods to port reduces costs, which will make our producers more competitive and give them greater resources to invest in increased production.

The productivity gains will fuel job creation and economic growth in communities that are crying out for economic stimulus.

Nowhere is this more the case than right here in Parkes, which is set to become Australia’s most important inland logistics hub, given that it is where the East-West route will meet Inland Rail.

However, as is the case with all major infrastructure projects, it’s important to get the details right.

Governments like to make big announcements.

But what is more important is ensuring the projects that they announce are viable, properly financed and subject to achievable deadlines.

That’s where Labor has some issues with Inland Rail.

For a start, the project is behind schedule.

According to a Coalition media statement from 28 August, 2013, construction of Inland Rail was meant to commence within three years: by the middle of 2016.

Two years on from the expiry of that deadline, the final route alignment has still not been finalised and environmental approvals have not been sought, let alone given.

We also have no details of the public-private partnership that will deliver the most challenging part of the project – the section through the Great Dividing Range in South East Queensland.

There is also the fact that the project does not go to the Port of Brisbane.

It stops 38km away, at Acacia Ridge.

It was only in this year’s Budget that the Commonwealth turned its attention to this problem by jointly funding a $1.5 million study with the Queensland Government.

That was a good decision, if somewhat late in the process.

Of course, it also doesn’t go to the Port of Melbourne.

Just because it’s called Inland Rail, that shouldn’t be taken so literally that it doesn’t go to a port.

Other issues about the route, including the section between Narromine and Narrabri, must also be resolved to ensure it maximises the benefit of the project, while minimising any negative impact on the communities which will be affected.

FINANCING

Most worryingly, doubt remains about the Government’s plan to finance Inland Rail via an $8.4 billion off-budget equity investment into the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

The problem here is that for a project to be financed off-budget, it must be able to make a return to the Budget.

That is, a commercial rate of return on capital investment as well as on operating and maintenance expenses.

But, as was clear from the 2015 implementation study into the project, conducted by former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Inland Rail’s revenues will not cover its capital cost over 50 years of operation.

It is clear from Senate Estimates that the Government is considering ARTC’s overall revenue, including the profitable Hunter Valley Coal Network, rather than this project itself, to avoid any investment contributing to the Budget bottom line.

Of course, it is also the case that the long-term lease arrangements between the ARTC and both the Victorian and NSW Governments have not been finalised, which is essential for Inland Rail to have the certainty the project needs.

I’m not the only one to have made these observations about uncertainty over financing.

Yet the Government has been reluctant to even discuss the issue.

That uncertainty must be resolved.

We need greater transparency over planning and an honest conversation about the project and how much grant funding the Government expects will be required to make it a reality.

We all know that Inland Rail isn’t going to build itself.

It’s important that all of us – elected representatives, industry and, most importantly, the community – are fully informed upfront about the real financing profile.

RAIL RENAISSANCE

Of course there is nothing new about rail being seen as a driver of economic development.

This has been a critical element in industrialisation and modern history.

From bridging the Australian continent, opening up the American West and, more recently, driving economic development of our Asian neighbours, rail has been history’s greatest facilitator of progress.

In the 21st century, even though it has more competitors in the transport sphere, rail keeps rolling on.

Indeed, it is having something of a renaissance.

Across the globe, urban rail and high speed rail are being rolled out as nations and cities modernise their transport systems to bring them up to task for the 21st century.

Here in Australia, states are investing in projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail and Perth’s METRONET and planning is under way for Western Sydney Rail and the Melbourne Airport Rail Project.

When you add Inland Rail and High Speed Rail to the equation, it is clear that this nation is going to invest many billions of dollars on rail in coming decades.

To serve the national interest, we must maximise the involvement of Australian industry in these projects.

In coming years we will lay thousands of kilometres of track and will require vast amounts of rolling stock.

That’s a huge challenge.

But if we are smart, we will turn the challenge into an opportunity by planning now to give Australian companies a piece of the action.

We should be using Australian standard steel.

And rather than buying the new rolling stock offshore, we should build it here.

If we approach this challenge properly, we can use the coming revolution in rail to re-energise Australian manufacturing.

We can train thousands of young Australians so they have skills fit for the 21st century, not just in rail, but across a range of advanced manufacturing applications.

That’s why a Labor Government will implement a National Rail Plan.

Our plan includes establishment of an Office of National Rail Industry Co-ordination to undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains nationally.

The Office will work with states to develop train priority plans, including a proposed delivery schedule for the next 10 years to iron out peaks and troughs in procurement.

Labor will also reinstate the Rail Supplier Advocate, abolished in 2013, to help small and medium-sized businesses get their foot in the door for government contracts.

LABOR’S RECORD

Labor’s National Rail Plan builds our long-standing support for rail and its place in driving productivity and economic growth.

The former Labor Government rebuilt 4000km of the interstate freight rail network.

We began the process of separating freight and passenger lines in Sydney and Adelaide and put in place the arrangements for development of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal.

On public transport, we invested more in urban rail than all other Commonwealth governments combined since Federation.

The biggest public transport investment from any Federal Government was our contribution to Victoria’s Regional Rail Link which untangled suburban and regional passenger rail lines in Melbourne, to the benefit of Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.

CONCLUSION

Once again, thanks for inviting me to this conference. I have come to Parkes today to recommit Labor’s support for Inland Rail. I do so with because I believe in its potential to serve the public interest for decades to come. I hope that future generations will look back at decision makers of our time and thank us for our vision.

However, for their sake, it’s this simple: We must get this project right.

 

Jul 17, 2018

Speech to the M1 Forum – Confronting the Challenge of Growth in South East Queensland – Loganholme – Tuesday, 17 July 2018

I’d like to acknowledge Labor’s terrific candidate for Forde, Des Hardman, for organising today’s forum and for his tireless advocacy for action on infrastructure for this region.

Good government is about planning and building for the future.

Indeed, central to keeping South East Queensland moving must be a commitment to delivering modern, well planned infrastructure.

In that respect there is no more important piece of road infrastructure than the
Pacific Motorway.

The Pacific Motorway – the M1 – connects Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, to the State’s second-biggest and one of its fastest-growing cities, the Gold Coast, and onward to northern NSW.

Each day 155,000 vehicles use the M1.

That makes it the busiest road in Queensland and one of the busiest in the country.

The M1 is also a vital section of Australia’s east coast freight and logistics network.

It is used by heavy vehicles needing to access the Acacia Ridge Intermodal, Port of Brisbane, Brisbane’s CBD and Brisbane Airport.

The road is set to become an even more important freight route, with heavy vehicle traffic expected to increase annually by between 3 and 4 per cent, compared to growth of between 1 and 2 per cent in overall traffic volumes.

And it is a key gateway to the Gold Coast for international and domestic tourists.

FEDERAL LABOR’S RECORD

Because of all of these reasons, the former Federal Labor Government had a clear vision: an M1 which supported, rather than hindered, Queensland’s economic development.

We backed that vision with real money for real projects that have made a real difference.

All up, we invested $455 million on the road, matched dollar-for-dollar by the then Bligh Labor Government.

As part of this unprecedented capital works program, we:

  • Widened from four to six lanes the section between Worongary and Mudgeeraba, as well as the section between Nerang South and Worongary;
  • Rebuilt the Coomera, Nerang South, Mudgeeraba, Robina and Varsity Lake interchanges; and
  • Upgraded the Springwood South to Daisy Hill section.

Collectively, these upgrades to the M1 eliminated choke-points, eased congestion, improved safety, and ultimately, helped to keep people and freight moving.

This investment was part of the $6.3 billion the former Federal Labor Government committed to major infrastructure projects across the South East corner.

That was more than what the Howard Government spent across the entire state of Queensland over a similar period of time.

Labor’s other transformative projects included:

  • A $2.5 billion investment in the Ipswich Motorway between Dinmore and Darra, an upgrade that remains South East Queensland’s largest-ever Federally-funded road project;
  • A $195 million investment in the Bruce Highway between Caboolture and Caloundra;
  • Construction of the Redcliffe Peninsula Link, a rail line first mooted more than a century ago in 1895;
  • Gold Coast Rapid Transit: A 13km light rail network connecting Griffith University to Broadbeach. Delivery of the $365 million investment was the most significant Commonwealth investment ever in light rail;
  • Construction of a new interchange at the intersection between Mains and Kessels Roads in Macgregor; and
  • The $1.5 billion Legacy Way: A 4.6 km tunnel connecting the Western Freeway at Toowong with the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove.

All up, we more than doubled annual Federal investment from $143 to $314 per Queenslander.

COALITION RECORD

Despite all their talk, it took the Liberals in Canberra more than an entire
term in government to commit anything meaningful to the M1.

We’ve had five wasted years, during which the pressure on this vital section of the National Land Transport Network has being growing and congestion has been worsening.

Despite all the hype that surrounded this year’s Federal Budget, the Budget Papers’ fine print revealed that only 10 per cent of the funding allocated to new Queensland projects will be available before 2022-23.

Simply put, Queenslanders hoping for the extra rail and road funding promised in the days leading up to the 2018 Budget will have to re-elect the Coalition not once, but twice more before the bulk of the money flows.

This is simply absurd. It’s investment on the Never-Never.

The situation with respect to the proposed M1 upgrades is not very positive either.

Of the $1 billion committed to widening the Motorway between Varsity Lakes and Tugun and between Eight Miles Plains and Daisy Hills, just 1 per cent will be available in the current financial year to advance those projects.

Eighty-five percent of the funding won’t be available until after the four-year Forward Estimates.

Again, if you are a motorist or a truck driver, you will have to wait for years before the Turnbull Government delivers the faster, safer, less frustrating driving conditions you require and deserve now.

A LABOR GOVERNMENT

Over the next few decades the population of South East Queensland is projected to increase by 2.2 million people.

Indeed, by the early 2030s, 5.5 million people – or almost one in six Australians – will be calling this part of our country home.

Managing that growth will not be easy.

But the business-as-usual approach of the Government is not an option.

Infrastructure Australia is forecasting that without action now, the cost of this traffic congestion within the region will increase  to $9.2 billion a year by 2031.

A significant proportion of that blowout will be the result of the increasing capacity constraints along key sections of the M1.

While it is of course the responsibility of the State Government to take the lead when it comes to identifying Queensland’s long-term infrastructure needs, it’s also the case that modernising the State’s infrastructure – including the M1 – is ultimately a task too big for it alone to achieve.

It will require a partnership between the State and the private sector.

And it will require a national government that’s prepared to play its part in the national interest.

That’s precisely what Federal Labor is offering.

We will work with the Queensland Government to fast track, as much as possible, the proposed M1 upgrades – Varsity Lakes to Tugun; Eight Miles Plains to Daisy Hills – and begin the necessary planning work on future upgrades.

As well as helping to tackle congestion, there is also an important safety dimension to these upgrades.

Each year there are 12,000 road accidents reported on the Motorway.

But as well as upgrading the M1, Federal Labor also understands that if we are to build productive, sustainable and liveable cities where communities can grow and prosper, governments need to invest in both their road and rail infrastructure.

That’s why the next Federal Labor Government will back Cross River Rail.

We will invest $2.24 billion of Federal funding to deliver the project in partnership with the Queensland Government.

This transformative project will unlock South East Queensland’s urban rail network and deliver more trains, more often for commuters, including to and from the Gold Coast.

This in turn will take pressure of the region’s major arterial roads, including the M1.

CONCLUSION

Let me finish by paying tribute to the Deputy Premier.

In her first Budget as Treasurer Jackie proved once again that when it comes to infrastructure, you can always rely on Labor to deliver.

We are the party of nation building. The others talk, we build.

Only Labor – both Federal and State – has a plan to keep South East Queensland moving.

It’s a plan that recognises that the difficult task of renewing and expanding this region’s transport infrastructure requires a genuine partnership between governments.

The long-term national interest demands nothing less.

 

 

Jul 11, 2018

Speech to The Sydney Institute – ‘Partnering with Our Cities’ – Wednesday, 11 July 2018

There’s a reason why people say that all politics is local.

That’s because it is.

The condition of local roads, the evenness of footpaths…

Availability at the local childcare centre or school…

If there is a corner store or shopping strip close to home…

Whether the bus comes on time and if there is somewhere to play sport…

These local issues determine the quality of life for our citizens.

Importantly they also feed into our nation’s larger economic narrative, determining whether our cities and towns function well and if they are places of opportunity where people can live out their aspirations.

These aspirations extend beyond individual needs to family, community, environment and indeed, to encompass a fair nation.

Because the quality of life for every individual cannot be isolated from the wellbeing of the community in which that individual resides.

The productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities depends on a range of factors, including how easy it is for people to get around, access to jobs, education and training, urban amenity and quality of life.

But we know that the shift from a traditional manufacturing economy to a knowledge-intensive economy means that job opportunities have been increasingly concentrated in the CBDs of major cities.

This has implications for housing affordability and our transport networks.

We know that rapid urbanisation is placing immense pressure on our outer suburbs.

Often these areas don’t have the necessary infrastructure and services in place to support population growth.

We also know that the end of the resources boom has left a number of regional cities and surrounding towns facing increasing unemployment and declining local economies.

And if we add to this equation, the rise in automation and shifting demographics, then we start to comprehend the challenge at hand.

Our nation is undergoing a period of significant change.

And this change can be hard for people who must adjust to the upheaval it brings.

Author Mary Shelley wrote that, ‘nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.’

This is true.

It is also true that within change lies opportunity and it is the responsibility of government to seek this out.

Managing this change will not be easy.

But one thing is certain: a failure to plan and build the infrastructure that will be needed will leave many people and communities socially isolated and economically disadvantaged.

American economist and urbanist Edward Glaeser worded it best when he said, ‘people, not structures, really determine a city’s success.’

Successful cities are inclusive cities, with diverse, vibrant communities – not disconnected enclaves of privilege and disadvantage.

Collaboration across all levels of government is critical if we are to overcome spatial inequality, which is already being felt in parts of our cities.

Someone’s postcode should not determine their income.

This principle has been at the centre of the dispute just a couple of kilometres from here about whether public housing should be maintained at Millers Point and The Rocks.

The expulsion of people from their homes has not only had a devastating impact on them, but I would also argue the surrounding local community is all the poorer for it.

A few weeks ago the Australian Local Government Association held its annual conference in Canberra.

Colloquially this week is referred to as a Mayor-a-Minute.

With almost 300 local councils and 800 delegates in town, to tell you the truth, it’s impossible to meet everyone.

Of those I did meet, including the Shire of Murray from WA, the City of Melbourne, Lake Macquarie and other Hunter Valley Councils, it is clear to me that many local councils are thinking comprehensively about what they can do to positively shape the economic future of their region.

They are thinking strategically about how innovation can be used to advantage the people they represent through job creation.

And they are thinking about how they can work with neighbouring councils, engage the private sector and bring together all levels of government to achieve positive structural change that empowers a broader geographical area – not just their own.

This truly is nation building, from the bottom up.

The national government can and should do more to support these ambitions.

I commend the current Government for their participation in urban policy, particularly in contrast with the former Abbott regime.

The reality is, however, that their City Deals Program is a poor imitation of the UK model it seeks to replicate, with funding commitments that are determined from the top down and tied to the electoral cycle.

That’s why tonight I’m announcing that a Shorten Labor Government will overhaul and replace the Coalition Government’s City Deals program with a new, more rigorous program called City Partnerships.

This is consistent with Labor’s approach to depoliticise infrastructure by making generational evidence-based decisions.

Labor will work with local government in a way that is genuine, in a way that supports their expertise and in a way that brings people together, to build a strategic vision underpinned by real investment for our cities.

So that we can ensure their ongoing productivity, sustainability and liveability.

Australia is not the only country grappling with urban population growth.

However, the reality is that we are one of the fastest urbanising OECD countries.

Almost 90 per cent of all Australians live in urban areas.

What’s more, projections from Infrastructure Australia indicate that by 2031 the populations of our four largest capitals – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – will have increased by 46 per cent.

Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin will grow by nearly 30 per cent.

Regional cities are also growing rapidly, with an extra one million people expected to call these cities home by 2020.

And although there are significant potential benefits that come from this increased urbanisation, including a greater contribution to GDP, we also know that the negative side effects are taking a toll on our cities.

Urban sprawl, growing congestion on roads and public transport, declining housing affordability and an unequal distribution of employment opportunities, particularly in outer suburbs and growth areas have an impact on people’s quality of life.

Our natural environment is suffering through increased pollution and the loss of green space when urban development is poorly planned.

And our agricultural food bowls, which play a critical role in supplying our cities, are also under pressure.

The national government has a responsibility to work with the state and local governments to address these problems.

Given that major cities are increasingly important actors in their own right within the global economy, we must ensure they are competitive.

Sub-national activities by state governments influence economic development, investment facilitation and trade outcomes as well as the local innovation system.

To improve our national economic performance we must be more strategic in the way we approach issues such as congestion, for freight as well as commuters, urban renewal and employment clusters.

And of course in doing so, we make our cities better places to live – for everyone.

But climate change complicates this policy challenge because of its significant impact on the urban environment through the Heat Island Effect, higher sustained temperatures and extreme weather events.

While cities cover less than two per cent of the earth’s surface, they are responsible for about 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Getting planning and infrastructure right within our cities is critical if we are to reduce Australia’s harmful carbon emissions, meet the Paris targets and move toward a zero emissions future.

Consequently, we need considered policy responses from governments, not just Band-Aid solutions.

And because the nature of Australia’s federation means that all three levels of government have both distinct and overlapping roles in urban development, collaboration and alignment are needed to maximise the effectiveness of investments and policy.

When Labor was last in Government we established the foundations for this collaboration and alignment.

We created the Major Cities Unit and Urban Policy Forum to ensure our policy was informed by expert opinion and underpinned by an evidence base, including through the annual State of Australian Cities report.

We established the Australian Council of Local Government to bring local councils into the conversation.

We also created the Centre of Excellence for Local Government at UTS to promote best practice.

Through COAG we conducted a review of capital city strategic planning systems – this was chaired for former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe with Lucy Turnbull as Deputy Chair.

And we released Australia’s first ever comprehensive National Urban Policy, which identified three key pillars of productivity, sustainability and liveability.

The City Partnerships program will build on this approach.

City Partnerships will engage all three levels of government through genuine collaboration, as well as with the private sector, to set out a strategic vision for our cities.

This will be linked to a renewed National Urban Policy.

I am pleased that there is bipartisanship on the need for Federal Government engagement in our cities.

However, the truth is that the current City Deals program falls short of what is required to deliver real change.

The lack of rigour and independent oversight means City Deals are subject to political whim.

The absence of transparency and clear guidelines has left local councils unsure as to how they can best participate.

And limited engagement with the private sector and the lack of clarity around funding of projects means that all levels of government are missing out on potential value uplift.

The fact is City Deals have either been in marginal electorates framed around single election commitments or are simply missing depth and detail.

This is the case for the Western Sydney City Deal, where not only was Blacktown Council excluded for no good reason but it also has a still unfunded rail project as its centrepiece.

Just this month Bill Shorten announced at the NSW ALP conference that Federal Labor would partner with the NSW Government to provide real investment for Western Sydney Rail, consistent with our determination to make public transport a defining priority for a Shorten Labor Government.

But it’s not just me providing criticism of City Deals tonight.

Stakeholders have also echoed precisely these criticisms.

For instance, Marcus Spiller, Principal and Partner at SGS, commented that the City Deals program comes ‘perilously close to the Commonwealth picking individual project winners rather than facilitating structural change.’

Romilly Madew, CEO of the Green Building Council, said that, you should meet these targets… it shouldn’t be just, ‘here’s the money’, as part of a City Deal. They should also have to meet a whole lot of requirements.’

And Adam Beck, Executive Director at the Smart Cities Council pointed out that, the City Deals process, from what I understand, has no industry committee, no outside support… Working it out together in collaboration, is the only model.’

We can, and must, do better.

City Deals originate from the UK.

They’re intended to provide a mechanism through which various levels of government can work together to develop area-based strategies that improve overall economic growth.

Part of this process involves setting targets in areas like employment, affordable housing and sustainability.

In large cities such as Melbourne or Sydney, the City Deals concept can be applied to sub-metropolitan areas, regions and precincts.

The Western Sydney City Deal is an example of this.

But it also provides a model through which growth corridors and regional cities can receive greater support and investment.

This is particularly important given these areas face substantially different challenges to inner cities.

Ultimately, City Deals are intended to provide a long-term vision for how structural change can be achieved.

This can encompass the built form, economy and community, depending on the needs of the area.

In turn, this enables consideration of long-term benefits such as an increase in land value and improved productivity as a consequence of greater investment.

Funding from all levels of government can be pooled and / or aligned, and in some instances also accompanied by co-investments by the private sector.

In some cases ‘earn-back’ and other innovative financing models have been used.

Most crucially, City Deals are underpinned by the idea that investment should be guided by the level of government that sits closest to the people.

They encourage a bottom up strategy that recognises local government as genuine partners well placed to lead structural change and foster local community ownership.

This innovative approach to multi-level governance is particularly applicable to Australia’s federal system of government.

Despite local government lacking constitutional recognition, it plays a critical role in shaping our cities, particularly through strategic land-use planning and development facilitation, public works and its ability to drive community engagement and ownership of projects.

State governments are also critical, with oversight of strategic land-use planning activities, the operation of transport systems and providing most of the funding for infrastructure and major facilities.

However, given the significance to the national economy, the Commonwealth must also have an active role in urban policy, using the various levers at its disposal.

Bringing all levels of government together is important.

And that requires national leadership.

The Property Council has identified critical foundations for improving Australian cities as including, ‘a national framework that actively shapes urbanisation to achieve long-term goals’, and, ‘long-lasting agreements, deals and partnerships between different levels of governments’.

But of course we know that the most important lever remains direct, targeted investment in nationally significant infrastructure.

The Commonwealth also controls other policy and regulatory levers on both a supply and demand side, which include taxation and immigration, the national coordination of housing supply through the Housing Supply Council, which Labor will re-establish, and funding to the states and territories for key services such as housing and homelessness.

In addition to this, the Commonwealth owns strategic parcels of land in major cities and plays a role in supporting important economic infrastructure such as hospitals, universities and airports.

To date, all states and territories have shown interest in the current City Deals program.

So we know there is a willingness to collaborate.

But we have to get the framework right.

Our proposed City Partnerships will strengthen this process by better engaging local government and the private sector and ambitiously structuring collaboration to achieve clearly defined outcomes and targets.

City Partnerships will also build on our proud urban policy legacy.

Since World War Two, every Labor Government has made an important contribution to Australia’s urban development and progress.

In 1945 Ben Chifley commenced post-war reconstruction with large-scale investment in public housing.

Gough Whitlam connected Western Sydney and other suburban areas to sewerage and also established the Department of Urban and Regional Development.

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating invested in the Building Better Cities Program.

And the Rudd-Gillard Government put in place a large number of policies to support the development of cities.

In recent years, however, we have seen how the short-termism of the electoral cycle sometimes functions as a handbrake on necessary national economic reform.

Big decisions can be suspended or delayed.

And, immediate political priorities can get in the way of the long-term national interest.

We need to overcome this challenge.

City Partnerships provides a model through which this can be achieved.

Our policy comes from months of consultation with local government and experts from across the sector.

We have listened to councils talk about the need for all three levels of government to work together, but in a way that is meaningful.

Where local government is treated as a genuine partner, rather than as just another stakeholder.

And where all the cards are on the table from the outset and priorities are determined in collaboration.

Around the nation, local government is already thinking about how a model such as this might work.

In the Hunter Valley – Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens and Cessnock Councils have come together to advocate for completing the delivery of the Glendale Interchange.

They are after $13 million for the next stage, which will create 6000 jobs and unlock $700 million of investment, including an expansion of Stockland Glendale.

It’s more than just an infrastructure project.

It will act as a catalyst for the entire region; transforming the way people get around, attracting businesses, creating jobs and facilitating urban renewal in the Cardiff industrial area.

In Western Australia, the City of Stirling is thinking about how it will house a growing population and ensure there are jobs within its local community for residents.

The City of Stirling is planning now for the future and considering what infrastructure is required to support this growth through its Stephenson Avenue urban regeneration project, which Bill Shorten and I announced founding for in April this year to add to commitments already made by the Council and WA Government.

Stage 2 of this project will include a light rail connection from the Stirling City Centre to the iconic Scarborough Beach.

This project will provide more than 82,000 new ongoing jobs, unlock $16 billion worth of private investment and create over 30,00 new dwellings which will generate the capacity to house over 63,000 new residents.

The Council of Mayors for South-East Queensland, which encompasses ten local government areas, has put aside parochialism to give substantial consideration to the future of its region.

And in 2014, before the Coalition Government even announced its City Deals program the Council of Mayors had started work on a model for Queensland.

Possibly one of the most significant achievements from my time as the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development was the establishment of Infrastructure Australia in 2008.

This set an important precedent for a rigorous and transparent approach to investing in infrastructure, ensuring evidence-based decision making guided the Commonwealth’s allocation of funds.

We remain committed to this approach.

That’s why we will re-establish the Major Cities Unit within Infrastructure Australia and task the Major Cities Unit with independent oversight of this program, including recommending City Partnerships to the Minister.

The Major Cities Unit will also take responsibility for refreshing the National Urban Policy that Labor released when in government to ensure City Partnerships align with its objectives, for example, in areas like sustainability and smart technology.

We will ensure City Partnerships are underpinned by a strong evidence base and proper analysis to maximise return on investment and social outcomes.

We understand that City Partnerships must be tailored and flexible, but we expect them to set out a strategic vision that aligns with the National Urban Policy and delivers on pre-determined performance indicators.

Effective City Partnerships can only be delivered through genuine collaboration with all three levels of government and the private sector.

Hence, City Partnerships will demand bottom up strategies that recognise the role of local government as genuine partners as well as land-owners and investors so they are well placed to drive structural change.

There is also an opportunity for the Major Cities Unit to consider how City Partnerships can leverage equity investment from government financing bodies, such as the CEFC, which have policy goals that cities can play a role in meeting.

An expert panel will be established to update strategic planning guidelines for cities as well as the development of guidelines, which include benefit to the economy, for City Partnerships in consultation with the Minister.

This will ensure industry expertise is more effectively utilised and that City Partnerships align with strategic planning guidelines.

It will consider ways in which the community and stakeholders can be more effectively engaged in the development phase of City Partnerships.

It will also consider ways in which collaboration across local governments, including with Council membership organisations such as WSROC in Sydney and the Council of Mayors in South-East Queensland, as well as with the private sector can be incentivised and rewarded.

To ensure transparency, these guidelines will be publicly available and applications from any city or cities welcome.

The program will apply not just to capital cities, but also to regional cities as part of our ongoing commitment to regional development.

City Partnerships will also be required to focus on what gains can be made through productivity uplift and the additional revenue that will flow to the Federal Government as a result.

This mirrors international examples where, in developing a strategic vision for a particular area, governments were required to consider broader economic objectives including employment and other earning opportunities.

City Partnerships also provide a unique opportunity to address spatial inequality in our cities by driving and facilitating investment in outer suburbs and growth areas to enable them to become more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs once declared that, ‘lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration.’

City Partnerships aim to achieve precisely this.

We want to unlock the potential of our cities – inner urban areas, regional cities, outer suburbs and growth areas – by bringing together all levels of government, the private sector and community in a way that is meaningful so that we achieve genuine structural change.

My mentor and former Deputy Labor Leader Tom Uren previously said that with urban policy we could no longer, ‘deal with things in boxes anymore.’

If anything, cities are even more complex now, than they were then.

And with advancements in technology we will always experience change.

But getting processes right provides us with the best opportunity to deal with this head on and ensure our cities are productive, sustainable and liveable…

Not just for those that can afford it, but for everyone.

Not for some of us, but for all of us.

Jul 10, 2018

Speech to General Aviation Summit -‘Securing Australia’s General Aviation Future: Together’ – Wagga Commercial Club, Wagga Wagga

Aviation matters.

That’s even more so for a country like Australia, which inhabits a vast island continent located in a remote part of the globe.  It not only connects us with each other, but also with all of the economic opportunity and cultural experiences the globalised world of the 21st century has to offer.

This year alone, the world’s airlines will carry more than three billion passengers – equivalent to about half of the Earth’s population.

And by value, a third of the goods traded internationally will be transported by air.

However, without General Aviation, this mass movement of people and commerce would not be possible.  The fact is, you, along with the organisations and businesses you represent here today, school the pilots and train the engineers that makes all this possible.

But the role of General Aviation doesn’t stop there.

Your industry is as diverse as it is important.

From balloons to microlights, helicopters to business jets, hobbyist to professional pilots, you have a rich history in this country, directly employing over 3500 Australians, and performing essential services such as charter flights, search and rescue, fire-fighting, surveying and aerial photography, lifesaving aeromedical care, and aircraft maintenance.

That’s why the former Federal Labor Government, in which I had the privilege of serving as Aviation Minister, developed this nation’s first ever Aviation White Paper, which had as one of its stated objectives the “maintenance of a safe, efficient and innovative General Aviation sector”.

This document provided a comprehensive and balanced framework, bringing together all aspects of aviation policy into a single, coherent and forward-looking statement.

Importantly, it included initiatives designed to give your industry the certainty and incentive to plan and invest for the long term.

In particular, we:

  • Introduced more generous accelerated depreciation rates for aircraft as an incentive for owners to upgrade their aircraft;
  • Reduced the number of 24-hour restricted airspace areas from 81 to 15;
  • Committed to the continued operation and growth of secondary capital city airports;
  • Ensured the master plans of secondary airports maintained a strong focus on aviation development, not non-aeronautical uses that could compromise future aviation activities;
  • Lessened the financial burden of regulation on the sector by restricting increases in CASA regulatory service charges to rises in the Consumer Price Index.

However, I appreciate that the transition to more commercial charging arrangements, which began in the 1980s, has been challenging.

Nonetheless, I remain very optimistic about your industry’s future.

In fact, I come here today with a clear message: Labor wants your ranks to grow.

We want more people taking to the skies, either as a career or simply for the sheer joy of flying.

Plus, if we get the policy settings right, your industry has the potential to become a major new source of export dollars for Australia.

Indeed, Australia’s favourable weather, relatively uncongested skies and proximity to the booming economies of Asia are competitive advantages which put us in a strong position to become a training ground for the region’s future pilots.

We need to build a stronger General Aviation industry so that we can grasp such opportunities.

It comes down to a simple idea: partnership.

A partnership between policy makers, regulators and the industry; one built on mutual respect and shared goals.

We all agree that safety must come first in an industry where there is no margin for error.

However, the message I am getting loud and clear from sections of your industry is that as things stand, a pure focus on safety has in some cases led to over-regulation and added unreasonably to your costs.

It is only through working together that we can properly assess whether we are getting it right on the balance between safety and cost.

My concern at present is that while there are plenty of claims being made about such matters in the media and elsewhere, people are talking over each other.

What we need is a mature, positive conversation.

The starting point to a fair assessment of the existing regime is a clear understanding and acceptance of the different pressures faced by the regulators and the regulated.

CASA and the Transport Minister have very clear pressures on them.

Their business is safety.

If there is a tragic accident, it is the regulators who must account for what went wrong.

It is they who have to meet the public’s expectation for adequate safety regulation.

Because of this, regulators will always naturally tend toward a conservative view on safety standards.

However, there’s always a risk that in creating an aviation system that is conservative on safety, we fail to understand the impact that we are having on operators.

I can understand why operators trying to make their businesses work might want to suggest changes that they feel will reduce unnecessary regulation without putting lives at risk.

I understand such sentiments, particularly when they come from operators with excellent safety records.

There are always going to be tensions between regulators and the industry.

If that tension is based on a partnership that puts the public interest first, it’s positive tension that should deliver the best outcome.

That’s why I emphasise the need for a positive partnership.

I am here today to listen to the concerns of the General Aviation sector.

I’ve got an open mind on these issues as long as safety is not compromised.

And I’m sure you would agree with that.

This is not about left versus right or old versus new.

I want to make clear to everyone in this room that I take a bipartisan view to aviation safety.

The job of Transport Minister is a difficult one.

I’ve done it before and would like to do it again.

But in Government or Opposition, I will work closely with Michael McCormack.

Many of Michael’s political views might not be the same as mine, but I respect the great responsibility he bears and I accept that he is completely sincere in the way he is approaching his role.

I have indicated to Michael, as I did to his predecessor, that I am willing to support legislative reform that would explicitly recognise the regulatory arrangements, whilst prioritising safety, must also ensure that CASA have regard for:

  • The maintenance of a strong, efficient and sustainable aviation industry (including a viable general aviation training sector) and;
  • The need to enable more people to benefit from civil aviation.

These should be the next most important considerations.

I think the new Minister wants to get the balance right as much as you and I do.

I support his decision to establish an industry-led General Aviation Advisory Group, which is currently chaired by the CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Martin Laverty.

This was a positive step towards giving the industry a voice in government.

I’ll keep working in a bipartisan way on these issues.

Simply put, the future of General Aviation in this country should be above politics.

Lastly, I am particularly keen to engage with the people in this room on any ideas you may have on how, collectively, we take General Aviation forward.

After all, it is you that have been fighting passionately for the future of your industry; tirelessly promoting General Aviation in all the forms represented here today – and doing so without great fanfare and often little recognition.

Together, we can secure Australia’s General Aviation future.

Again, thank you for inviting me here today.

Jun 27, 2018

Speech to the Australian Bus and Coach Industry National Dinner – ‘Buses & the Journey to a Better Future – Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Thank you for inviting me to speak tonight at the Australian Bus and Coach Industry National Dinner.

In a country as vast as ours, the bus and coach industry plays a critical role when it comes to keeping the nation moving.

Our heavily populated urban cities…

Our regional and remote towns…

And of course the millions of international visitors we receive each year all rely on buses and coaches to get around.

American-English poet T.S Eliot once declared that, ‘the journey not the arrival matters’.

Now I would contend that the arrival is of some significance.

But anyone who has travelled by bus or coach in Australia understands that there is something to be said for the journey, which brings people together and allows you to take in the sights without the pressure of driving yourself.

Just last week I read an opinion piece by Peter Fitzsimons about a bus driver in Sydney who, on a regular midweek evening trip home, suggested turning off the interior lights when on the Harbour Bridge so that everyone could see the Vivid Lights of Sydney.

We all have good stories from our travels, whether that’s simply to school or work, or further afield with long distance coach travel.

Put simply, buses contribute to the success of the nation.

And I am pleased to see such a critical industry constantly working for better policy outcomes.

The two conferences – Coach Connections and the School Bus Summit – display the diversity of the bus industry sector.

Indeed, the bus industry plays a critical role in our education system, our tourism economy and our cities and regions.

Whether it’s a coach in Townsville transporting tourists to regional destinations…

Or a bus in Hobart, taking commuters to work and students to school…

Or in Bathurst, a bus transporting an older person from home to medical appointments and social events…

Buses serve every city and every region and are integral to the way Australians live our lives.

SCHOOL TRANSPORT

For many people the school bus is their earliest memory of public transport.

For myself, I was a 459 or 470 student in Sydney.

But the way students travel to school is changing.

Consequently integrating school transport with our broader public transport network makes economic sense.

Crucially, it also teaches young Australians how to move around our city using active transport, which creates the public transport patrons of the future.

I am glad to see that you have dedicated time to enhancing this travel to learn concept.

We know that public transport is still not the preferred option for many school students travelling to and from school.

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children and National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity Survey found that only 12 per cent of students between ages 9 and 10 use public transport for all school travel.

This only increases to 32 per cent for children aged 12 to 17.

So we must make public transport viable, safe and effective for students, to create lifelong public transport users and I am heartened that you continue to pursue this goal.

TOURISM COACHES

Australia’s tourism economy has been identified by Deloitte Access Economics as a super growth sector.

It generates more than $100 billion in economic activity for Australia.

And each year the number of international visitors to Australia grows.

Indeed, this figure reached nine million for the year ending April 2018, an increase of 6.3 per cent from the year before.

Domestic and international visitors are drawn to regional Australia for the Great Barrier Reef, for Uluru, the Bungle Bungles, Blue Mountains, Monkey Mia and the Barossa Valley.

We are a land of unparalleled physical beauty.

These remarkable destinations support local economies.

And it is the people in this room who make these destinations and the economies they support thrive.

Coach travel is enjoyed by almost half a million international tourists and more than 1.5 million domestic travellers.

This sector is a critical building block in Australia’s tourism future.

But there are still gaps to be filled, particularly when it comes to promoting regional dispersal.

While more domestic travellers visit regional Australia than capital cities, less than half of Australia’s international tourists visited regional Australia in 2016.

We need to make sure regional tourism is offered strategy and vision.

And we also need to consider how we can improve coach access in our cities and regions so that visitors can be more easily transported from hubs like airports or cruise terminals to tourist destinations across the country.

A national strategy for regional land transport tourism, as suggested by the Bus Industry Confederation, is one approach worth investigating.

Such a strategy would connect different levels of government needed to enhance our regional tourism economy, promoting not just flying between Australia’s icons but travelling through Australia, enhancing regional communities across the nation.

CITIES DEVELOPMENT

A thriving public transport network is at the core of a successful city.

Buses can and must play a part.

If we are to achieve a 30 minute city, not just for the inner suburbs but for people living in the outer suburbs of our major cities, we need a strong bus network that transports people from their home, to work or school, or to a transport interchange.

Buses play a critical role in reducing urban congestion, which benefits not just the productivity of our cities, but also their sustainability.

That is why the work of your organisation in thinking strategically about the future of our bus system is critical to the success of our cities.

However our cities are changing.

While much of this change is disruptive, and presents challenges for the concept of mobility as a service, we should be thinking about how we can use technological advancements to our advantage…

So that it is an opportunity, and not a threat and I know the Bus Industry Confederation has a strong focus on this future mobility challenge.

Smart technology has the ability to radically shape how people live, move and work in their cities.

For instance, the ability to pay for public transport on a smartphone, smart watch or directly by credit card could make moving around the city more seamless for residents and visitors.

In its 2018 Budget the Queensland Government committed $371 million to trial this new smart way to pay and develop the service over the next four years.

But we can and must go further in ensuring smart technology works for residents, businesses and government nation-wide.

To maximise the benefits of these technological advancements we have to be strategic.

Small trials of technological innovation should not exist in silos across the country.

Collaboration is required between different levels of government, the public and private sector as well as across jurisdictional boundaries to make technology work for us.

That’s why Labor is committed to a National Urban Policy and will embed a smart cities agenda in our focus.

REGIONAL ACCESS

We also know that regional bus operators across the country are critical despite often running low volume services.

Regional bus operators move students from home to school, helping ensure students have easier access to education.

They also connect older regional Australians to medical appointments, social events and other critical services – reducing social isolation for older Australians in regional communities.

Your sector keeps these communities moving.

We must continue to support regional bus operations.

They are fundamental to the viability of our regional economies, supporting the health and access opportunities of people living in regional Australia.

CONCLUSION

Thank you for taking the time over these two days to turn your minds to some of the biggest policy challenges we face.

Supporting education, growing tourism in regional and remote Australia and keeping our cities moving is critical to our national success.

The work you all do, in moving children, commuters, domestic visitors, international tourists and all people young and old, supports these sectors.

I have read your draft policy document from today’s Coach Connections Summit and want to commend you for your focus on regional tourism.

Travelling across Australia is such an important experience, for both domestic and international visitors, and I look forward to working with Michael and the Bus Industry Confederation to grow regional dispersal.

I also look forward to continuing to work with you on shaping the future of public transport, which our cities depend on for their productivity, liveability and sustainability.
 

Jun 25, 2018

Media Release – ACETCA Annual Gala Dinner – Monday, 25 June, 2018

On Sunday, Anthony delivered the Keynote speech at the Australia China Economics Trade and Culture Association (ACETCA) Annual Gala Dinner 2018. You can read the full speech below:

I am pleased to be here tonight representing the Australian Labor Party.

Australia and China have a long standing relationship and it is in Australia’s national interest to deepen our engagement with China.

Now the world’s second largest economy, China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and export market, with a total trade value exceeding $174 billion for 2017.

However, the value in the Sino-Australia relationship cannot be measured by numbers alone.

Cultural and people to people links are a critical part of our relationship and we must continue to develop those links between governments, business and civil society.

The Australia China Economics Trade and Culture Association (ACETCA) is a leading organisation responsible for advancing the friendship between China and Australia.

Indeed, ACETCA’s own mission statement – promoting economic and trade development, technology exchange and social harmony, is a tribute to the organisation’s leadership in the sphere of Sino-Australia Relations.

ACETCA met a milestone this year, when over half a million people attended the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival in Sydney, in celebration of the Eleventh Zodiac, the Year of the Dog.

Furthermore, ACETCA’s recent support of our NSW Rural Fire Service and St. John Ambulance Australia should be commended.

The Chinese community is a shining example of the great successes of multiculturalism and diversity in contemporary Australia.

I only have to step outside of my office in the Inner West of Sydney to see first-hand the great contribution made to our community by Chinese Australians in the form of local businesses.

Some recent reports in the media have suggested that the Sino-Australia friendship has become strained. However in my experience the personal relations between our two peoples remain very strong.

We accept that we are different societies and different political systems, and on that basis we are able to cooperate in our mutual interest, which will continue into the future.

There is an old Chinese proverb that epitomises the unique relationship between our two nations that when translated into English reads:

‘If people are of one heart, even the yellow earth can become gold’.

Thank you again for having me here tonight.

Jun 25, 2018

Media Release – Fifty Years of Co.As.It – Monday, 25 June, 2018

Anthony addressed the Parliament today about the 50th Anniversary of the Co.As.It organisation. You can read the full speech below:

It was my great honour recently to attend the 50th anniversary celebration for Co.As.It.

Co.As.It have been providing services for the Italian community in my electorate and indeed much more broadly around Australia for 50 years now, and they celebrated this at the Italian National Day celebrations in Sydney just last month.

Co.As.It also promote Italian culture, including through their family history group, which preserves and promotes the history of Italian migrants in Australian.

Italian Co.As.It community care workers support the elderly Italo-Australian community and allow older Italo-Australians to stay in their homes—and vitally connected to their community—for longer.

The organisation also run support programs for serious issues like drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, and mental health. This is an invaluable community service.

To celebrate their 50-year milestone, Co.As.It have published a photobook by Paolo Totaro AM—Visual Legacy: Italian Australian Elders. 

Paolo, himself an Italian migrant, travelled to Australia for work in the 1960s. He went on to work for the Australia Council, founded the Community Arts Board and was also the foundation chairman of the New South Wales Ethnic Affairs Commission. He said of this time:

“I avoided the famous and the rich, they don’t need this sort of celebration. I wanted to capture the image of the ordinary Italian-Australian experience … We are not any more new Australians, we are Australians, who showed enormous self-reliance and resilience from the very start of our arrival in this country.”

In this book, he celebrates the lives of these Australians. Many of the stories highlighted are those of migrants who travelled to Australia, who made that journey that so many have made, to forge a new life for themselves and their families.

They travelled to a new country where they didn’t speak the language; they bravely made their way in Australian society and created a community—a community which is evident in Leichhardt and Haberfield, and right around Australia. This book celebrates their lives. As Lorenzo Fazzini, president of Co.As.It said:

“You won’t find any tall poppies in this book. These are all very humble people, but they are the images of the people who have ‘created’ the Italian-Australian community. Although some of these people are no longer with us, we continue to learn from them, respect them and thank them for paving the way.”

I’m very proud to call Paolo Totaro a dear friend of mine. He is someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to his nation, Australia. With this book, he has added to the wealth of that contribution.

Jun 25, 2018

Media Release – Cyprus United East2West Initiative – Monday, 25 June, 2018

Anthony addressed the Parliament today in tribute to Stavros Protz and Yalcin Adal, for their East2West initiative in support of the unification of Cyprus for all its people. You can read the full speech below:

In the coming month, we will mark 44 years since the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, 44 years without a resolution—a nation divided, with 37 per cent of the island still occupied in contravention of a number of United Nations resolutions and with over 200,000 people displaced.

This is the 11th time I have raised this issue in the parliament as a federal MP. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the island nation twice, once as an opposition member and once as a government minister.

The hope of justice and reunification of the island, however, very much lives on, both in Cyprus and also here in Australia, another island nation, which more than 80,000 Cypriots of both Greek and Turkish background call home.

I had the honour of convening a meeting on behalf of the Australia-Cyprus parliamentary friendship group with two Australian friends, Stavros Protz and Yalcin Adal, from Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot backgrounds respectively.

These two great friends in Australia are examples of the fact that, in our multicultural nation, people live not just in harmony but with its diversity being a great strength.

Stavros and Yalcin began the Journey into Cyprus: East2West initiative. Together, over 16 days beginning on 21 March and ending on 5 April, the two friends walked 400 kilometres through the middle of Cyprus to inspire reconciliation and support for a united island nation.

Stavros and Yalcin, having successfully completed their journey, walking up to 30 kilometres a day over very rugged terrain, are here in Canberra today continuing to promote the common interest and harmony between all Cypriots.

After reaching the St Hilarion Castle on top of the Kyrenia mountain range in Cyprus, the two friends found a window and announced their wish for the future of the island:

“We wish that one day the people of this island regardless of age, colour, ethnicity, gender and religion will be able to live freely.”

This echoes the message of a peaceful resolution that I put forward in my first speech to this parliament about Cyprus, way back in 1998. I said this 20 years ago:

“What is clear is that the Cypriot people, regardless of their origin, do want a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

The sentiment has been demonstrated in an extraordinary way by these two friends through their East2West initiative.

Their journey has quite literally brought the two sides of the conflict together to advocate for a peaceful resolution that has eluded the island nation for far too long.

However, a solution, when it comes, must of course support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, a single legitimate authority on the island.

One nation, one citizenship, one international personality, one people.

While the nation continues to be divided, its people—both those of Greek-Cypriot background and those of Turkish-Cypriot background—will suffer.

Each year I attend a commemoration of the invasion of Cyprus at the Cyprus Community Club in my own electorate of Grayndler.

Each year the crowd gathers and hopes for a peaceful resolution to the conflict that should come sooner rather than later.

The journey of Stavros and Yalcin, taken together, has encouraged this peace to be brought forth. They exemplify two courageous people who are saying: ‘Enough is enough.’

It is in the interests of all of the people of Cyprus for the conflict to be resolved, for us to live in harmony side by side, just as people of Greek-Cypriot background and Turkish-Cypriot background live side by side in harmony right here in Australia, particularly in my electorate in the inner west of Sydney.

I commend the motion to the House and I pay tribute to these two fine young Australians.

Jun 4, 2018

Speech to Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit- Towards More Effective Infrastructure Policy – Monday, 4 June, 2018

Thanks for the opportunity to address you today and can I congratulate the Australian Financial Review for staging this important summit to examine the critical policy area of infrastructure.

There’s always a lot happening in national affairs.

But it’s often the case that the media’s understandable and necessary focus on the daily cut and thrust of the political battle leaves little room for serious debate about policy issues that affect Australians in their everyday lives.

Infrastructure is one of those important policy areas.

Australians want and deserve railways and roads that serve their daily travelling needs.

Businesses want and deserve efficient transport networks so they can get their goods or services to markets as quickly as possible.

If we get it wrong on infrastructure policy, we degrade our national quality of life and inhibit business activity.

But if we get it right we all win.

We enhance our quality of life by facilitating faster movement of people and goods.

And we boost productivity, which in turn drives job creation and economic growth.

This summit provides a good opportunity for me to provide feedback on Labor’s view of the 2018-19 Budget, delivered just a few weeks ago.

And, more importantly as we move steadily toward an election year, it’s a chance for me to sketch out the broad outline of the direction of infrastructure policy under a Federal Labor Government.

BUDGET 2018

About a year ago the independent Parliamentary Budget Office produced an important report that charted the future direction of infrastructure investment in this country.

Based on analysis of the 2017 Budget papers, the PBO said that over the next decade, Federal infrastructure investment expressed as a proportion of GDP will decline from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

That’s half – quite a reduction in a nation which we all agree is suffering from an infrastructure deficit.

This at a time when we should be increasing investment in the right projects.

That is a view shared by industry groups like Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which has consistently called for increased federal grants to the states and territories.

For a few weeks in April and early May, it looked as they might get what they were hoping for.

Suddenly newspapers were full of reports about new rail and road projects.

There was the front page news of a $5 billion Federal contribution for a passenger rail line from the Melbourne CBD to the city’s airport.

There was another front pager about how the Government would build Western Sydney Rail to the Western Sydney Airport as part of a new City Deal it had signed with the NSW Government and Western Sydney councils.

Then there was to be funding for the Adelaide’s South Road project, the Coffs Harbour Bypass, Perth METRONET and railway improvements between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

However, with due respect to our hosts today, it turns out that you can’t always believe what you read in the newspapers.

When Budget 2018 was delivered, there was no money for the construction of Melbourne Airport Rail.

There was no money for the construction of Western Sydney Rail.

In fact, there was no new money, full stop.

Pages 137 to 144 of Budget Paper Number 2 tell the story.

In program after program and from state after state, the 2018 Budget allocations feature zero after zero after zero.

To be fair, there were new projects – all to be funded from previously appropriated funding.

But critically, the lion’s share of the funding won’t be delivered for years.

Only 1 per cent will be invested in 2018-19.

85 per cent won’t be invested until beyond the Forward Estimates.

This means Australians waiting for progress on important rail and road projects will not get it this year. Not next year. Or the year after. Not even the following year or the one after that.

Voters will have to re-elect the Coalition not once, but twice more before the bulk of the money will appear.

…Very optimistic for a mob that have had four infrastructure ministers in less than two years.

CUTS

In the meantime, Federal infrastructure grants to the states and territories are about to enter freefall.

In 2017-18, the Government promised to distribute $8 billion in infrastructure grants.

In the following years that will fall to $6.3 billion, $5.6 billion, $5 billion and then to $4.5 billion by 2021-22.

Looking across the four-year Forward Estimates in this year’s Budget, there is $2 billion less for project delivery than was the case only 12 months ago.

Federal infrastructure investment is on a very sharp downward trajectory.

There was a time in this country when Government Budgets were about what would happen in the next four years.

But under the current Government, the investment horizon now stretches to a decade and sometimes beyond that.

Budget 2018 was not a blueprint for nation building investment in the national interest.

It was a political document – a triumph of spin over substance.

Australia needs infrastructure investment now, not a decade from now.

We need it in our cities – to tackle traffic congestion that costs the economy more than $16 billion a year in lost productivity.

We need it in our regions, to drive economic growth and promote decentralisation.

And we need it in our rural areas, to ensure that producers can get their products to their markets or to our ports as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

FANTASY LAND

Part of the decline in Federal grants is attributable to the Government’s attempts to attract more private sector investment in public infrastructure projects.

That’s a worthy aim if you get the formula right. The former Labor Government used value capture and availability payments to deliver major projects.

The Coalition Government is struggling to find a workable model.

Three years ago it created the Northern Australia Infrastructure Financing Facility.

The NAIF, these days often referred to as the No Actual Infrastructure Fund, has failed to deliver a major new infrastructure project.

Last year the Government established the Infrastructure Financing Unit, designed to use “innovative financing mechanisms’’ like value capture to secure private investment.

After a year of operation, the IFU has not produced a single new project.

This year’s new idea is the fantasy that public transport projects can build themselves without public investment.

A case in point is the proposed $5 billion investment toward the construction of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link that I mentioned earlier.

Despite the alleged commitment, there is no money in the Budget for construction of this project.

Instead, the Government claims it will fund the project off-budget using an equity funding arrangement.

This is an extraordinary proposition.

Off-Budget funding can work for some projects.

It can work for toll roads.

And indeed, the former Labor Government used an equity funding model to deliver the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal.

But the golden rule for projects to be taken off-budget is that they must be able to provide a commercial return to the Budget.

That return must cover not only operating expenses, but also a commercial return on the capital invested.

There is no public transport service in this country that covers its operating expenses, let alone the cost of construction.

The Melbourne Airport Rail Link is a worthy project.

It is supported by the Victorian State Government of Daniel Andrews, although his immediate priority is completion of the Melbourne Metro.

But the Federal Government’s proposed funny money funding model is a sham.

It is the funding commitment you make when you don’t actually want to commit funding.

COMMENTARY

No wonder this approach is attracting criticism from independent experts.

The Grattan Institute’s Marion Terrill, commenting on the Melbourne Airport Link proposal, warned there was a risk the project would not even make a positive rate of return, let alone the commercial rate.

Ms Terrill said:

“If infrastructure projects are never going to make a commercial return, the Government should stop pretending they will. … And if they are worth building at all, the Government should fund them transparently on-budget.”

Adrian Dwyer, the head of peak industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, said:

“There are only two ways to pay for infrastructure – tickets and taxes. We can’t finance our way out of a funding problem.”

UNDERSPEND

Let me turn quickly to the other big problem with infrastructure policy in 2018: the escalating crisis in project delivery.

In each and every year the current Government has been in office, it has failed to spend the money it has allocated to infrastructure projects.

Over the first four budgets, the difference between what the Government has promised and what it has actually invested is $4.7 billion.

That’s 20 percent of allocated funding not delivered.

Underspending is everywhere – across program after program, in state after state and year after year.

For major roads, the Government has promised to invest $16.5 billion but has delivered $13.8 billion.

The $2.7 billion shortfall represents a cut of 16 per cent.

When it comes to the Northern Australia Roads Program, the $190 million underspend is equivalent to 65 per cent of the Budget.

One third of all funding allocated to the Black Spot road safety program has also not been delivered as promised.

We can all have our views about whether the Government is providing enough funding for rail and roads.

But when one out of every five dollars budgeted is not being spent, we’ve got a crisis in program delivery.

I’ve been raising this issue for a couple of years now.

The problem has persisted under the revolving door of Infrastructure Ministers since the last AFR Summit.

LABOR’S ALTERNATIVE

When people ask me what a Federal Labor Government would do in the area of infrastructure, my answer is simple – look at our record as a guide to how we would act in the future.

The previous Labor Government delivered record infrastructure investment.

On our watch, annual Federal infrastructure investment increased from $132 per Australian to $265.

We doubled the roads Budget and built or upgraded 7500km of road.

We rebuilt a third of the interstate rail network, some 4000km of track.

We invested more on public transport than all previous Federal governments combined.

Importantly, the former Labor Government also transformed the process by which we assess projects and allocate funding through the creation of Infrastructure Australia as an independent adviser to Government.

In Government we invested in every one of the priority projects identified by IA.

Prior to that reform, governments would allocate funding for projects according to their political whims.

The creation of Infrastructure Australia introduced an evidence-based process.

It broke the nexus between the short-term electoral cycle and the long-term infrastructure investment cycle.

So the short answer to what Labor would do in government is simple – we’d pick up where we left off.

Our immediate focus would be to increase investment in public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro, Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Western Sydney Rail and Perth METRONET.

Traffic congestion is harming national productivity and steadily eroding the quality of life of Australians.

It was partly caused by that great wrecker Tony Abbott, who took office in 2007 and immediately scrapped the billions of dollars that had been allocated to vital public transport projects.

Mr Abbott’s bizarre ideological antipathy for public transport, combined with the current Prime Minister’s self-delusion that train lines can somehow build themselves, means this country is way behind where it should be on urban rail.

We confront this shortage at the very time when population growth and increasing population density in our cities means people will increasingly rely on public transport to get around.

BIPARTISANSHIP

One of the smartest things the Coalition Government did when it took office was to retain Infrastructure Australia as its independent adviser on major projects.

I have concerns about the extent to which the Government has sought to sideline and politicise Infrastructure Australia.

But let me put those concerns aside and acknowledge the Government has kept this important organisation, created by the former Labor government a decade ago.

We would return Infrastructure Australia to the centre of policy making, including on financing options in accordance its the legislation.

The policy architecture is already in place.

The pipeline exists, even if, under the current Budget, the funding does not.

As an aside, let me note an example of bipartisanship on infrastructure policy that will deliver real results for Australians and the Australian economy: construction of the Western Sydney Airport.

For years needless politicking prevented the development of this important piece of infrastructure.

Both sides of politics feared that backing the idea of a second Sydney airport would expose them to election scare campaigns.

But a few years back a few of us on both sides of politics quietly took a joint decision to put politics aside and act in the public interest.

As a result, work is underway on the new airport as well as associated road infrastructure.

We are working together to deliver not just an airport, but an aerotropolis that will transform the Western Sydney economy and create thousands of well paid jobs for its residents.

Bipartisanship is producing real results for the community.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t differences. The commencement of rail connections needs to be urgently progressed with real investment.

There is an important lesson here that should be applied to many other policy areas.

Australians, including our business community, understand that the nature of politics means different political parties will have different views on issues.

They understand that this is an important feature of democracy.

But what they don’t like, and don’t deserve, is needless political division that prevents the delivery of sensible outcomes that serve the national interest.

REFORM

We know that the idea of analysing the costs and benefits of major projects helps governments pick the right projects and achieve better outcomes.

Knowing that this system is effective, we should now consider broadening it.

Under a Labor Government we’ll enhance Infrastructure Australia’s role in ways that can secure better outcomes.

For example, we know that smart technology can dramatically improve the effectiveness of our transport system.

Managed motorways programs including smooth entry points, variable speed limits, and lane directional changes can make a huge difference to travel times.

Under a Labor government, state governments seeking Commonwealth grants for new roads will need to demonstrate that they have incorporated smart technology into the design of their projects wherever possible.

We will require proponents of projects to consider incorporating active travel options such as cycling and pedestrian access into their plans.

We know also that the impact of climate change requires that we think harder about sustainability.

This could include use of renewable energy, or whether the design of projects caters for the shift toward electric cars by providing re-charging options.

We can also harness the Infrastructure Australia process to enhance skills development and improve procurement processes.

For example, when it comes to the construction of the Western Sydney Airport, Labor has made clear that we will require at least 10 per cent of construction jobs be filled by apprentices.

This means we will not only get new airport, we’ll use the opportunity to develop our national skills base, which will have knock on benefits for the economy.

Requiring states to take the same approach to other major projects will go a long way towards reinvigorating Australia’s training system, which, regrettably, has been badly run down under the current Government.

On another point, I am often approached by medium-sized construction firms concerned that they can never get a piece of the action when governments call tenders for major infrastructure projects.

The most common complaint is that the contracts are on such a large scale, they can’t bid for the work, meaning the work ends up going to a handful of our biggest contractors.

I would encourage states and territories to work with industry to craft creative procurement plans that spread the benefit of major government contracts more evenly across the infrastructure sector.

As a bonus, there is no shortage of evidence to suggest that greater involvement of mid-tier construction companies leads to savings to the public purse by fostering greater competition.

These are just a few ideas.

You’ll hear more from me about Infrastructure Australia’s mandate closer to the election.

But my basic point here is simple: Better planning delivers better outcomes.

Through the Infrastructure Australia process, we have an opportunity to improve the quality of project planning to achieve outcomes that better meet the expectations and requirements of both the public and business community.

CONCLUSION

Once again, let me thank the Australian Financial Review for staging this summit.

Infrastructure policy is always important.

But in 2018, with our population growing quickly, our cities in transition and our businesses as anxious as ever to reduce costs and boost productivity, we face some real challenges.

For my part, I believe governments have two choices on nation building.

We can be passive and react only after problems arise.

Or we can seek to image a better future and take real, practical steps to create that better future.

That requires planning, collaboration and a willingness to put the national interest first.

In government, Labor intends to do just that.

ENDS
MONDAY, 4 JUNE, 2018

 

May 15, 2018

Speech to Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Lunch – Getting It Right On Nation Building – Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Thanks for inviting me to address you today, so soon after the Federal Government’s delivery of the 2018-19 Budget.

Can I begin by paying tribute to the leadership of Brendan Lyon over the last decade. Brendan is a man of integrity, vision and intellectual depth who has the national interest as his motivation in his working life.

Anyone who has visited the IPA office and seen the respect for Brendan from his team knows he is also a pretty good bloke and I wish him well in both his career and his personal life.

Today is an opportunity for me to outline Labor’s Budget response on Infrastructure and offer some insights into the approach of a future Labor Government.

But before I do that I want to congratulate Infrastructure Partnerships Australia for the strength and integrity of your post-budget analysis and general advocacy for your sector.

As we all know, the weeks leading up the delivery of the Budget featured leak after leak designed to create the impression of a big increase in increased infrastructure investment.

There were some journalists and business people, who accepted what they were told at face value.

They didn’t wait to examine the fine detail once the Budget documents were released.

But just like last year, IPA looked beyond the narrative to identify the facts as expressed in the Budget documents, noting for example that in this Budget, the Government cut Federal infrastructure investment by $2 billion over the next four years.

As your CEO Adrian Dwyer noted in IPA’s media release on Budget night, “the warm infrastructure narrative has not been met with cold, hard cash in the Budget papers’’.

He went on to add:

“At a time when our population is growing and our cities are more congested than ever, we need to see infrastructure dollars trending up not down.” 

It won’t surprise Adrian or anyone here to hear me say that I agree.

But putting my views and interests aside, it’s critical for our democracy that representative groups like IPA are prepared to be honest in their analysis of claims that are made by people in power.

The sector must continue to engage in a debate based on facts.

When it comes to budgets, what matters is not rhetoric, but the numbers in the documents.

Those numbers can represent real dollars, real investment, real jobs – and if it’s the right project, real future economic growth.

Now, because I know you’re busy people, I always try to have a moment in my speeches to IPA that is memorable, to lift it up above the noise.

Today, that moment is to quote the Buddha, who once said:  “There are only three things in the world that cannot be hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth.’’

The IPA has consistently had the courage to call out political spin.

You call it as you see it, just as you did when I was Infrastructure Minister in the previous Federal Labor Government.

I didn’t always agree with your views, but I respected them and continued to engage with you.

IPA’s intellectual integrity in promoting a fact-based public debate about infrastructure serves the public interest and is a credit to your organisation.

BUDGET AT A GLANCE

That’s your view of the Budget.

Here is mine.

The Budget is a con job – a triumph of spin over substance.

In the lead-up to its delivery, the Government sought to pretend that it was about to reverse its five years of cuts and start investing in the future.

But once the documents hit the desk, we learned the Budget did not include a dollar of new funding for infrastructure over the Forward Estimates period.

There was nothing to build the rail from to Melbourne Airport.

Nothing for the Western Sydney Rail beyond a small amount for a business case.

Nothing for Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.

New projects announced in the pre-Budget period will all be funded from previous allocations.

We can see this clearly on pages 137 to 144 of Budget Paper Number 2.

On program after program and for State after State, there are lines of zeros in the Forward Estimates.

Let’s be honest. This was framed as a pre-election Budget.

It more about politics than policy.

It is commitments on the never-never.

It’s a bit like Mr Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons who used to wander around saying:  “I will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today’’.

But in this case Malcolm Turnbull tells Australians: I will gladly build you a new road or a train line five years from now if only you vote for me in the next election – and the one after that.

The Budget documents show that of $19.3 billion in funding announced for new specific projects, a paltry 1 per cent will be invested in the next 12 months.

One per cent.

Over the Forward Estimates, less than 20 per cent of the funds will available for construction.

Put another way, four out of every five dollars allocated to infrastructure projects last week won’t be invested for at least four years.

Not before the next election, nor the election after that.

In the meantime, actual investment will continue to fall off a cliff.

In 2017-18 the Coalition Government promised to distribute $8 billion in infrastructure grants to the states.

But that will fall steadily over the following years to $4.5 billion by 2021-22.

The fact is that little has changed since a year ago, when the independent Parliamentary Budget Office calculated that over the next decade, infrastructure investment as a proportion of GDP will fall from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

That’s half.

UNDERSPEND

It is also clear from the Budget Papers that even when the Government allocates funding, it lacks the ability to translate the promises into bulldozers on work sites.

In each of its first four Budgets, the Coalition has not delivered the full amount of funding it announced.

Indeed, over these four Budgets, the difference between what the Government allocated and the amount actually delivered is $4.7 billion.

Underspending is everywhere.

Roads – $2.8 billion

Rail – $200 million.

The Black Spots Program – $100 million.

The Northern Australia Roads Program – $132 million.

You might understand this sort of failure if it were a one-off.

But this has happened every year.

Across almost every program.

It is a rolling parade of failure.

It indicates the Government is either unable to administer its programs, or it is seriously misleading the nation about its real investment intentions.

OFF-BUDGET INVESTMENT

There’s an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

So it is with the Government’s continuing attempt to move away from direct infrastructure grants to the states for major projects and toward off-Budget funding.

For several Budgets now, the Coalition has been experimenting with new financing approaches to avoid providing infrastructure grants to the states.

Three years ago it created the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility.

The NAIF has spent little beyond fees and travelling expenses for its directors to attend meetings in southern capitals.

It has become the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

Last year, the Government created its Infrastructure Financing Unit to supposedly attract more private investment in public infrastructure projects.

Yet again, sidelining Infrastructure Australia, which is tasked with examining financing options for projects.

As IPA said last year in its pre-Budget submission, there is no shortage of financing available for good projects.

Your submission noted that what was needed was not financing assistance, but Commonwealth infrastructure grants to make projects stack up.

A year later, the IFU has not produced a single project.

It has been moved out of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and into the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

It’s a failed experiment.

Let me make something clear. There are circumstances in which off-Budget funding through equity investments makes sense.

The former Labor Government used an equity model to fund the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal in Sydney.

But the test of applicability for this type of funding is simple – off-Budget projects must produce a return to the Budget.

That return must exceed running costs, but also a make a return on capital investment.

In the days before the Budget, the Government told the Melbourne media it would invest $5 billion in a rail line from Melbourne’s CBD to the airport at Tullamarine.

While this project had previously been talked about, the funding announcement came out of the blue.

The first the Victorian Government heard about it was when Mr Turnbull’s office sent Premier Daniel Andrews a letter after he had already leaked his plan to the newspapers.

But when the Budget Papers were released, there was no funding for construction.

We are asked to accept the notion that the Commonwealth contribution to this project may come via an equity injection.

This is absurd.

Public transport projects don’t make money.

They are critically important, because they reduce traffic congestion and help drive economic growth.

But neither the costs of their operation, nor their capital investment, can be covered by operating revenue.

It is sham funding.

It is the funding that you put in place when you don’t actually intend to deliver a project, but you want people to think you will.

INLAND RAIL

The Melbourne Airport fantasy follows last year’s $8 billion equity injection to the Australian Rail Track Corporation to fund the Inland Rail Link between Melbourne and Brisbane.

Once again, it is clear that Inland Rail will not make a return to the Budget – a point noted by former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, in his 2015 Implementation Study for the project.

Mr Anderson noted that: “The expected operating revenue over 50 years will not cover the initial capital investment required to build the railway”.

This fact was reaffirmed earlier this year when the CEO of the ARTC, John Fullerton, told the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit: “From a strict ARTC point of view, no, the revenue that flows to us would never cover the full capital cost and provide a return.”

As I have said in previous speeches to IPA, Labor supports Inland Rail.

It’s a visionary project that has the potential to make a real difference to the ability of producers to get their goods to market and, in that context, makes economic sense in the long-term.

But the fact is Inland Rail will cost public money.

It won’t build itself.

COMMENTARY

Expert analysis in the days after the Budget focused on the uncertainties surrounding off-Budget funding.

Marion Terrill, of the Grattan Institute, warned that airport rail lines were expensive and stood no chance of generating a return to the Budget.

Ms Terrill said:

“”There’s a real risk these equity investments will end up not even making a positive rate of return, never mind a commercial rate. 

“”If infrastructure projects are never going to make a commercial return, the Government should stop pretending they will.

“”And if they are worth building at all, the government should fund them transparently on-budget.

“”If the numbers on these projects don’t stack up, future taxpayers will be on the hook for today’s bad decisions.” 

The Chief Economist for Industry Super Australia, Stephen Anthony agreed.

“We’re opening up the potential for more unfunded liabilities but we don’t need more time bombs,” Mr Anthony said.

The University of Sydney’s Garry Bowditch said the off-budget financing options seemed “fanciful’’.

And for the industry view, Adrian has said on behalf of the IPA:

“Ultimately there are only two ways to pay for infrastructure – tickets and taxes.

“We can’t finance our way out of a funding problem. Im worried that what we might see in budgets is a financial vehicle for a project when that isn’t right for the project.” 

INFRASTRUCTURE AUSTRALIA

Let me turn briefly to Infrastructure Australia.

The former Labor Government created Infrastructure Australia in 2008 to provide independent advice to Government on projects that are under consideration for Commonwealth funding.

Our aim was to take the politics out of decision-making concerning project funding.

To break the nexus between the short term political cycle and the long term infrastructure investment cycle.
That means the organisation’s independence is critical.

I’m concerned that after five years of Coalition Government, Infrastructure Australia’s independence is being undermined.

For instance, back in 2012, Infrastructure Australia produced an infrastructure priority list which named the proposed Cross River Rail project in Queensland as that state’s number one priority.

This important second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the Brisbane CBD was assessed by Infrastructure Australia as “ready to go’’.

It was on that basis that the former Labor Government reached deal with the-then Newman LNP Government in Queensland to deliver the project.

But that collapsed when Tony Abbott took office and withdrew all Commonwealth investment in infrastructure not already under construction.

But on the most recent national Priority List, Cross River Rail is well down the list of priorities.

That doesn’t make sense – until you consider the fact that the Turnbull Government has made clear that it does not see Cross River Rail as a political priority.

Instead, it proposes to invest in rail projects further north, on the Sunshine Coast.

This ignores the fact that you can’t increase capacity to the Sunshine Coast without Cross River Rail.

I also worry that Infrastructure Australia appears to be timing the release of its analysis of projects to suit the Government’s timetable.

Prior to the Budget, Infrastructure Australia produced a positive assessment of the long-proposed next section of Adelaide’s North-South Corridor, from Regency Rd to Pym St.

This was released the very day the Government was dropping a story to the Adelaide Advertiser that it would provide funding for the project.

The South Australian Government submitted the business case for this project to Infrastructure Australia on June 22 last year – more than ten months ago.

Labor will use upcoming Senate Budget Estimates hearings to examine the simultaneous timing of the release of the assessment and Government’s funding announcement.

A BETTER WAY

Over the next 12 months you can expect to hear more from me about how a Federal Labor Government would approach the infrastructure portfolio.

But whenever I am asked about how I would approach a return to Government, my response is simple: look at the record.

We established Infrastructure Australia and ensured its independence.

The former Labor Government doubled the roads budget.

We built or upgraded 7500km of road.

We rebuilt more than a third of the nation’s rail network – 4000km.

We invested more on urban public transport than all previous Commonwealth governments combined.

We implemented national laws covering heavy vehicles, maritime and rail safety laws; slashing regulators from 24 to 3.

We published first ever National Freight and National Port strategies – long term blueprints to guide investment in the nation’s port, roads and railways.

We increased spending on road, rail and public transport infrastructure from $132 per Australian to $225.

When we took office, Australia was 20th on a list of advanced nations in terms of infrastructure investment as a proportion of GDP.

When we left office, Australia was 1st.

Our investments did cost money.

But they also facilitated ongoing economic growth by boosting productivity.

We created a pipeline of projects that should have attracted broad support on the basis of analysis of costs and benefits and their value to the economy.

In 2018, one of the biggest risks to ongoing economic growth in this country is the Coalition’s refusal to provide the investment required to deliver and continue to develop that investment pipeline.

Rather than investing in future growth, this Government is falling over itself to avoid investing.

The 2018 Budget is not an infrastructure Budget. It is an infrastructure mirage that calls us to look years ahead to an investment horizon that might never be reached.

Meanwhile, average Australians looking for better roads and public transport are stuck in an infrastructure desert.

This self-delusion will lead to increase our national infrastructure deficit.

CONCLUSION

Once again, let me thank you for inviting me here today. It’s always good to engage with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia – as I like to think of you, the good IPA!

Rest assured that in the coming months, as Labor finalises our policy approach to the next election, I will continue to engage with you in the national interest.

And in Government, I would ensure a constructive working relationship with you.

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