Jan 27, 2010

2010 will be a big year for nation building

2010 will be a big year for nation building

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

January 27 2010

Over the coming twelve months the Rudd Labor Government’s ambitious infrastructure program will step up another gear, with construction work expected to get underway on major road and rail projects worth more than $20 billion.

As part of our Nation Building Program work will commence this year on a large number of major transport projects, including:

  • Regional Rail Link (VIC) – $4.2 billion;
  • Hunter Expressway (NSW) – $1.65 billion;
  • Kempsey Bypass on the Pacific Highway (NSW) – $618 million;
  • Duplication of the Pacific Highway between Sapphire to Woolgoolga (NSW) – $698 million;
  • Gawler Line Modernisation and the Noarlunga to Seaford Rail Extension (SA) – $584 million;
  • South Road Superway (SA) – $500 million;
  • Realignment of Western Highway at Anthony’s Cutting (VIC) – $200 million;
  • Northbridge Rail Link (WA) – $236 million;
  • Duplication of the Douglas Arterial Road in Townsville (QLD) – $110 million; and
  • Kingston Bypass (Tasmania) – $41.5 million.

This hive of construction activity will create work for thousands of men and women as well as new commercial opportunities for local suppliers.

What’s more, work will continue on a number of vital projects including the upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway in Brisbane; the upgrade of the Western Ring Road in Melbourne, and the Mandurah Entrance Road in Western Australia.

The Economic Stimulus Plan made a major contribution to ensuring that last year Australia was the only developed economy to avoid a recession. Likewise, the investments we’re making this year will help position Australia to take advantage of the global economic recovery.

Together with the states and territories we’re building the transport infrastructure that will help make our economy more productive, our regions more prosperous and our cities more sustainable.

As well as investing in Australia’s immediate infrastructure needs, we’re also planning for the nation’s future.

Infrastructure Australia is currently developing the nation’s first ever national port strategy and national freight strategy – long term blueprints which together with the National Priority List will guide future investment in our vital transport infrastructure.

The Rudd Labor Government has more than doubled the Federal roads budget and quadrupled investment in rail.

In coming years the private sector will need to play a greater role in infrastructure financing. For this reason Infrastructure Australia is finalising further reforms designed to make public-private-partnerships (PPPs) even more attractive to private investors.

Both strategies, as well as the advice on the next stage of PPP reforms, are expected to be handed to the Government this year.

Despite the magnitude of the challenge, there remains one side of politics advocating less infrastructure spending and the cancellation of major infrastructure projects: the Liberal and National Parties under the leadership of Tony Abbott.

Mr Abbott wants to cancel the final stage of the Economic Stimulus Plan, labelling as “low quality spending” its multi-billion investment in the nation’s road, urban public rail and port infrastructure.

His Finance spokesperson Barnaby Joyce has gone even further, telling Sky News on 10 December 2009:

“Well I think the whole … stimulus package was not warranted in the form it went out. I think the stimulus package was inappropriate.”

The extremism of Tony Abbott is emerging as the greatest threat to the nation’s economic recovery and the modernisation of our infrastructure.