Subjects: High Speed Rail
ALBANESE: Good afternoon and thanks for joining me. Today I moved a motion in the Parliament that would have allowed the full debate and determination of my High Speed Rail Authority Bill.
This is a Bill that I’ve moved now three times, but needed to be reintroduced to the Parliament as a result of Malcolm Turnbull’s extraordinary decision to prorogue the Parliament.
At the time I moved the motion on the floor of the House of Representatives, there was no other legislation, not a single Bill before the Parliament.
What Parliament was due to debate was simply the Governor General’s speech of yesterday about the two pieces of legislation that he said on advice from the Government would be debated during this extraordinary sitting of the Parliament.
Of course, we know that one half of that has dropped off as a result of the Government just simply failing to get its act together.
This is a Government that says it supports High Speed Rail on the front page of newspapers, that has had just this week Members of the Government writing opinion pieces in national newspapers but fails to actually take any action which would result in advancing the High Speed Rail project.
What we know from the study that Labor initiated in Government is that High Speed Rail stacks up. From Sydney to Melbourne, $2.15 benefit for every dollar of cost. And what we also know is that it would be a game changer for regional Australia.
We also know that because it involves the different jurisdictions of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT as well as local government, it requires coordination.
And that’s why the High Speed Rail Authority that was recommended by the Advisory Group that included people like Tim Fischer and Jennifer Westacott from the BCA is so important.
Because we need to ensure that we don’t make decisions today that rule out the infrastructure of tomorrow.
High Speed Rail is being rolled out around the world, and what we have said is that we would charge the High Speed Rail Authority with calling for expressions of interest from international companies that we know have successfully rolled out High Speed Rail in Japan, in China as well as European countries.
So this is a project that needs to be advanced.
And yet under this Government you saw a $54 million cut that was allocated for the High Speed Rail Authority to get on with the business of preserving the corridor and advancing the project that was included in the 2013 Budget.
When they came to office, they cut that.
Now, in the wake of an election they again have refused to establish the Authority to bring on this legislation that they know is absolutely essential because it was the advice of the Department as well as the independent experts.
So I think the Government has once again shown that on High Speed Rail they’re actually not interested in moving forward. What they’re interested in, in the lead up to an election campaign is just making a few statements but not backing it up with any substance.