Browsing articles in "Ministerial Media Releases"
Aug 5, 2013

Extra funding for Kwinana Freeway and Great Eastern Highway

I have approved funding for additional works on the Kwinana Freeway and Great Eastern Highway, which will no doubt be welcomed by the 54,000 motorists and drivers who use these roads every day.

The package of works will widen the Kwinana Freeway between the Roe Highway and Armadale Road to three lanes and upgrade its on and off-ramps.  In addition, we will rebuild and widen the Great Eastern Highway between Walgoolan and Coolgardie.

Tenders will be called in coming months, with the projects to be funded using savings achieved on earlier projects.  That means this Federal Labor Government is delivering above and beyond what we initially promised.

Together, these improvements will deliver safer, smoother and less congestion driving conditions.  Both roads are vital freight routes connecting Fremantle Port and the industrial estates east of the City with the mining and agricultural industries of the Wheatbelt and Goldfields-Esperance regions.

These new, additional projects add to the unprecedented $6.9 billion capital works program currently being rolled out across Western Australia by this Federal Labor Government.  In fact compared to the Howard Government we have more than doubled spending from $115 to $240 per Western Australian.

This includes funding for earlier widening works along the Great Eastern Highway from Rivervale to Redcliffe ($58 million) as well as on the Kwinana Freeway between the Leach and Roe highways ($42.2 million).

From the outset Federal Labor’s mission has been to reverse the neglect we inherited and invest in the modern, well-planned infrastructure which makes working people’s lives easier, our businesses more competitive and the national economy stronger.

We are building the infrastructure that will stand the test of time.


Aug 5, 2013

Government welcomes Telstras’s response to pit remediation

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Anthony Albanese, today welcomed Telstra’s announcement that work on pit remediation for the NBN would recommence on 19 August.

“Telstra has worked constructively with the Government and other stakeholders to put in place a comprehensive program to address the issues posed by the existence of asbestos in parts of its network.”

“Everyone has the right to go to work and come home safely,” said Minister Shorten.

The independent Asbestos Taskforce, established by the Australian Government in June, has agreed on a range of measures to ensure all of Telstra’s work crews are appropriately trained and monitored, and follow correct work safety practices.

The Taskforce is headed by Geoff Fary (Chair, Asbestos Management Review) and its membership includes representatives from Telstra, NBN Co., the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), Comcare, industry unions, asbestos community support groups and work, health and safety experts.

“Asbestos is a cruel, indiscriminate killer and because of its widespread use over much of the 20th century and remains a persistent threat to Australians,” Mr Shorten said.

“There can be no short cuts when it comes to asbestos,” Mr Albanese said.

“This is a positive development for those sub-contractors who have been awaiting Telstra’s resumption of remediation work.”

If residents or businesses wish to report suspected asbestos containing material, please call the national asbestos hotline on 1800 888 468.


Aug 2, 2013

Australia and Canada to review and compare investigation processes

I welcome the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s actions in inviting the Canadian Transportation Safety Bureau to undertake an independent review of the ATSB’s investigation methodologies and processes.

The review, to begin this month, will provide the ATSB with valuable insights and identify best practices from both organisations to improve the way in which the organisation undertakes investigations.

This will be a transparent process with the report to be made available to the public early next year.

The safety and security of the travelling public is the Federal Government’s number one aviation priority and a focus on continuous improvement by Australia’s aviation safety agencies is critical to this goal.

Aug 2, 2013

Bruce Highway: Another Cardwell Range upgrade milestone

The multimillion dollar upgrade of the Bruce Highway over the Cardwell Range has achieved another milestone following this week’s traffic switch.

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the opening of the two new lanes will allow motorists to drive over the crest of the range.

“The temporary traffic switch is another milestone in the upgrade of the Cardwell Range section of the Bruce Highway and follows the completion last year of the 180 metre long viaduct and Rungoo rail overpass,” said Mr Albanese.

“The straightening and flattening of this 4 kilometre section of the Highway will deliver safer, faster driving conditions for the 3,200 motorists and truck drivers which use it every day.

“This project is just one of many currently underway along this 1,700 kilometre road as part of this Federal Government’s unprecedented $5.7 billion Bruce Highway capital works program.”

Starting about 15 kilometres north of Ingham, the Cardwell Range Realignment is a jointly funded project, with the Federal Government contributing $128.5 million and Queensland Government a further $69.5 million.

Senator for Queensland Jan McLucas said the traffic switch will enable the crew to continue construction on the eastern face of the cutting, as well as the new upgraded Hinchinbrook Lookout.

“Work on the cutting is expected to be completed in November,” said Senator McLucas.

“Meanwhile, the Hinchinbrook Lookout is being upgraded, and a new access bridge over the highway is being constructed to remove unsafe right turns and provide new access for visitors.

“The Hinchinbrook Lookout will offer short-stay visitor parking and a safe place to enjoy the iconic panoramic view of Hinchinbrook Channel and Island.”

The entire project is on track to be complete by the end of 2013, weather permitting.


Jul 31, 2013

NBN-enabled services launched in Onkaparinga

Families and businesses in Onkaparinga, South Australia, will be able to speak face-to-face with their Council from their living room or office, thanks to a new online planning and development service.

Senator for South Australia, Don Farrell, today launched the City of Onkaparinga’s new service, which is funded through the Rudd Labor Government’s Digital Local Government program.

The online service will enable development and building applications to be uploaded and tracked electronically, as well as the use of video conferencing to correspond with applicants.

“The NBN is helping put residents and ratepayers at the heart of local government service delivery – which is where they should be,” Senator Farrell said.

“Ultimately, this means better, more accessible, convenient and efficient services, delivered with less hassle for local residents.”

Senator Farrell also officially switched on the NBN in McLaren Flat, where 576 homes and businesses can now access NBN’s fast, reliable, and affordable broadband.

“I urge everyone who can to sign up to the NBN and embrace what the NBN has to offer,” Senator Farrell said.

Local Federal Member for Kingston Amanda Rishworth MP advocated to ensure residents and businesses in McLaren Flat would have access to fast and reliable broadband.

“I am delighted that McLaren Flat is the next community in Southern Adelaide to now have access to better broadband services, and it is great to see that work continues on the roll-out around the South so that everyone in our community has access to the National Broadband Network,” Ms Rishworth said.

“The funding announced today will also allow the local council to harness the National Broadband Network to deliver improved services for local residents.”

McLaren Flat digital consultant, Daniel Procter, said connecting to the NBN means he doesn’t have to move from the local area to grow his business.

“With the NBN we were able to stay put in our family home overlooking the vineyards and I can now start offering HD video-conferencing to support my clients all across the state, which means a two hour round trip drive to CBD clients is now a HD video-conferencing call over the NBN,” Mr Proctor said.

NBN fibre construction has commenced to 96,500 premises across South Australia, including Aldinga, Flinders, Gawler, Modbury, Onkaparinga, Port Augusta, Port Elliot and Victor Harbour, Prospect, Seaford, St Marys, Stirling, Strathalbyn and Yankalilla.

For more information about the NBN rollout in South Australia visit:



NBN in Onkaparinga 

  1. The NBN has been switched on to 576 homes and businesses. 
  1. An additional 1,497 homes and businesses in the Onkapargina area are expected to go live in the coming months, bringing the total to 2,070 premises passed by fibre in Onkaparinga.


NBN in South Australia 

  1. NBN fibre currently has construction commenced for more than 96,500 premises across South Australia. This includes: Aldinga; Flinders; Gawler; Modbury; Port Augusta; Port Elliot and Victor Harbour; Onkaparinga; Prospect; Seaford; St Marys; Stirling; Strathalbyn; and Yankalilla. 
  1. NBN fibre construction will commence or be complete for 445,000 premises by mid-2016.
Jul 31, 2013

Adelaide’s urban rail network set to go electric

The community has had a glimpse inside the first of Adelaide’s brand new electric trains, signalling the start of a new era for the City’s urban rail network and the commuters who rely on it.

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today joined South Australian Transport and Infrastructure Minister Tom Koutsantonis at the Seaford Rail Depot to see first-hand a fully assembled A-City Class 4000 railcar, the first of 22 scheduled to be delivered over the next 18 months.

“With the extension of the Noarlunga Line to Seaford now complete, the arrival of the new rolling stock marks another major milestone in the modernisation of Adelaide’s rail network,” said Mr Albanese.

“The Rudd Labor Government has a plan to keep our cities moving, one which involves investing in both their road and rail infrastructure. If not tackled in such a balanced way, the cost of congestion here in Adelaide will double to $1.1 billion a year by the end of the decade.

“That’s why we’ve not only initiated the two largest road projects in the State’s history – the Northern Expressway and South Road Superway – but also funded projects such as the Seaford Rail Extension and the untangling of passenger and freight lines through the CBD.

“Here in lies one of the great divides in Australian politics. If Tony Abbott was ever to become Prime Minister, Federal funding for rail projects likes these would become a thing of the past. He has repeatedly said that the national government should have nothing to do with fixing our nation’s public transport infrastructure.”

Mr Koutsantonis said over the next decade $252 million will be invested on the new fleet of electric trains, with the first of them expected to go into service early next year.

“Together, the Rudd and Weatherill Labor Governments are building a modern, greener and more reliable urban rail network,” said Mr Koutsantonis.

“Part of that vision is the newly built, jointly funded Seaford Rail Extension.  Completed on time, on budget, this project employed some 2,000 workers, erected on of Australia’s longest bridges and has brought better public transport services to the residents of the City’s fast growing southern suburbs.”


Jul 30, 2013

State of Australian Cities 2013

While Australia’s major cities remain among the world’s most liveable with bicycle use at the highest level in 40 years, changing work-force patterns pose future challenges for transport infrastructure planning.

Those are a few of the trends detailed in the State of Australian Cities 2013 report which I’ve released today.  Compiled by the Major Cities Unit within my Department, this latest ‘report card’ builds on the previous three, providing an even more comprehensive analysis of the progress and performance of the nation’s 18 biggest cities.

The first three editions of this publication generated enormous interest and have been downloaded more than three million times.

A summary of the key findings is attached, with the full State of Australian Cities 2013 now available at:

As well as giving us a better understanding of how our cities work, the report also identifies the specific initiatives of local councils and state planning authorities which are proving effective at promoting more productive, sustainable and liveable urban communities.

Today I am also releasing a second report, Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport which sets out the simple steps that governments and employers can take to increase the proportion of people walking and riding for short trips, and to connect to public transport hubs. For its part, the Federal Government has agreed that all future urban road projects must include a safe, separated cycle way, where practical.

As one of the most urbanised societies in the world, and with our cities generating 80 per cent of our national income, our continuing prosperity largely depends on the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities.

When it comes to infrastructure, there is no starker difference between Federal Labor and the Coalition than our respective approaches to cities and the importance placed on investing in public transport.

Federal Labor has a plan to keep our cities moving, one that involves investing in both road AND rail infrastructure.  That’s why we’ve doubled the roads budget and committed more to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined. Right now, major projects are underway in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

Contrast this to the Opposition which simply believes the challenges confronting our cities and their residents are someone else’s problems to fix.

The Opposition says urban congestion is “a big economic problem”, which is “costing our economy a lot of money”.  But at the same time, Tony Abbott has ruled out providing Federal funding to help fix the nation’s public transport infrastructure, one of the most effective ways of reducing congestion and preventing traffic gridlock.

We need better cities for the people who live in them, for the people who work in them and for the people who depend on them. Only Federal Labor has the track record and investment to make our cities work better.

Australia’s eighteen major cities are:

  • Adelaide;
  • Albury-Wodonga;
  • Brisbane;
  • Cairns;
  • Canberra-Queanbeyan;
  • Darwin;
  • Geelong;
  • Gold Coast-Tweed;
  • Hobart;
  • Launceston;
  • Melbourne;
  • Newcastle;
  • Perth;
  • Sydney;
  • Sunshine Coast;
  • Townsville;
  • Toowoomba;
  • Wollongong.
Jul 28, 2013

Statement from the Acting Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese

Tony Abbott should calm down.

He has been demanding an election since before counting was complete in the 2010 election.

He’s starting to sound hysterical. And it’s more about his own born to rule mentality and growing impatience to move into The Lodge so he can begin cutting money out of schools and hospitals than it is about a concern for the country.

Mr Abbott’s only plan for Australia is to cut spending to the bone.

His approach would drive the economy into recession and destroy jobs, inflicting hardship on Australian families.

He wants to create a harsh, new Australia based on the idea of every man for himself.

That’s not the Labor way. We’re for a fair go.

We’ll return the budget to surplus over time and in a responsible manner. We won’t do it in a way that would damage economic growth and destroy jobs. That’s Mr Abbott’s way.

Kevin Rudd will call an election in good time.

But until then he and the Labor cabinet will continue to focus on getting the policies right to help Australian families.

Mr Abbott wants to sneak into office before anyone notices his plans for spending cuts so drastic they will hurt Australian families.

That’s why he and Mr Hockey said last week that they will again avoid having their policies costed by the independent public servants in the Treasury.

They are hoping no-one will notice their plans to cut spending to the bone until it is too late, just like what is happening in Queensland under Campbell Newman.

Jul 28, 2013

Feds gets behind Perth Airport Link

The Rudd Labor Government has agreed to provided $3 million to help finalise a business case for the Perth Airport Link and begin the planning necessary to get the project ‘shovel ready’.

The proposed Link would connect Perth Airport, and the suburbs to the east, with the CBD via the Midland Line,  This will ensure Western Australians and tourists can go straight to the doorstep of the airport terminal, improving access for travellers and reducing traffic congestion.

Importantly, residents to the east of the Airport will also benefit from better public transport, with a new station to service the High Wycombe area via a tunnel.  A new line would integrate with services on the existing Midland line, resulting in increased train frequencies between Bayswater and Perth.

Perth is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities and its Airport will continue to experience substantial passenger growth in the year’s ahead.  That’s why it’s critical we invest now in the world class public transport infrastructure which is able to cater for that growth and support future needs of Perth residents.

Our funding for the Airport Link matches the Western Australian Government’s $3 million and is on top of our previous $4 million commitment to the planning of a future light rail network for the City.

Providing funding for planning on these two significant projects will assist the State Government determine how to best use the $500 million we aside in our most recent Budget for the Perth Public Transport Package.

The Airport Rail Link Planning Study will include refined patronage demand forecasts, environmental and heritage assessments, risk management, and technical and engineering requirements including aviation safety requirements for tunnelling under the airport’s runways.

This Federal Labor Government is making an unprecedented investment in Western Australia’s road, rail and public transport infrastructure.  Already we have committed $6.9 billion, which is more than double what the former Howard Government spent over a similar period of time.

Jul 27, 2013

Tony Abbott’s broadband plan: $9.5 billion hit on small business

Small business in Australia will be slugged billions of dollars to access superfast broadband if the Coalition wins the next election.

Council of Small Business of Australia Executive Director Peter Strong told ABC1’s The Business that the Coalition’s plan will cost businesses more:

“At the moment under the NBN everybody gets connected. Under the Coalition’s approach, of course, it’s going to cost you more money to have it connected to your business. And that’s an extra cost to business.”

The Coalition has confirmed that under its second-rate broadband plan it would charge small businesses ‘some thousands of dollars’ to connect fibre all the way to their premise.

Malcolm Turnbull’s fibre-on-demand service is based on the United Kingdom model, where homes and businesses are charged as much as 3,500 pounds ($5,000) to have fibre connected.

For Australia’s 1.9 million small businesses, this would be a disaster, delivering them extra costs that could hit as high as $9.5 billion.

As well as promising to eliminate the instant asset write-off, the Coalition now wants to shift the cost of accessing this vital piece of infrastructure back onto small businesses themselves.

It is clear that the Coalition’s broadband plan is bad for small business and bad for the economy.

Small businesses in regional Australia will be particularly hard hit – slugged twice by the Coalition.  They will have to pay as much as $5,000 to connect to fibre and will then have to pay more for their broadband services than their competitors in the cities.

Small business in Australia should not have to operate with one hand tied behind their backs because they are stuck with unreliable broadband using last century’s copper technology.

Federal Labor’s National Broadband Network will deliver fibre to the home or business to 93 per cent of Australian premises with no connection cost.

If Australian business is to compete in the Asian Century, superfast broadband is essential.  That is what Labor is delivering as it rolls out the National Broadband Network.