Browsing articles in "Ministerial Media Releases"
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.

Jul 26, 2013

New affordable housing in Logan

A new affordable housing development was officially opened in Logan Central today, giving the growing number of low income retirees, newly-arrived migrants and local hospital workers access to more housing options.

The Tallowwood on North complex was partly funded by the Federal Government’s Liveable Cities program and is an innovative response to the region’s housing needs, incorporating five star energy efficient design, appropriate building orientation, insulation, cross ventilation and shading.

Located less than 5 minutes’ walk north of the Woodridge Train Station and close to  local shopping facilities and schools, the new development will provide great amenity and convenience to future tenants.

Logan has a high concentration of social housing built in the late 1960s and providing new, high quality affordable housing will improve the city’s capacity to meet its residents’ needs and quality of life.

This project is part of a longer term plan to rejuvenate Logan Central by attracting a wider range of affordable housing options,  jobs, public transport, shops and recreational activities.

The six unit complex consists of 2 one bedroom units, 3 two bedroom units, and 1 three bedroom unit.

This exciting $1.4 million development was made possible through a partnership between the Federal Labor Government, Horizon Housing and Logan City Council.

Federal Labor has made unprecedented investments to help make housing more affordable.

We have already delivered 21,000 new social housing homes and refurbished a further  80,000.  Another 50,000 homes will be built before June 2016 under Federal Labor’s National Rental Affordability Scheme.


Jul 25, 2013

Bright future for Brisbane Northern Suburbs Hockey Club

More than 5,000 people every year will benefit from Brisbane’s newly upgraded Northern Suburbs Hockey Club which was officially opened today.

This is the first major refurbishment of the club since it was built in 1974 and today it is the largest women’s and girls’ hockey club in Brisbane.

The Federal Labor Government contributed $230,000 towards the upgrade of the club, which was identified as a priority investment by the local community.

The upgrade included a new kitchen and bar, better toilet and showering amenities and easier access for people with disability.

The ground lighting has also been upgraded, which offers brighter playing fields and allows for matches to be played later.

Hockey fans, other sports enthusiasts, school and community groups and visiting families can now enjoy these improvements for many years to come.

The upgraded facilities will also help encourage more people to take up hockey, touch football and other popular sports played at the club.

This project is a good example of the real benefits of targeted, long-term investment in our communities, creating 10 jobs during construction and meeting the community’s needs over the longer term.

The Federal Labor Government has invested more than $20 million in new or upgraded community infrastructure in the Brisbane area, including a new community hub at Moorooka and new sports and recreational facilities for young people in Mount Gravatt.


Jul 25, 2013

Transcript of doorstop interview – Sydney

Subjects:  Second Sydney airport         

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we have to do is to get the proper processes in place. That’s why we’re gone through an exhaustive process of identification of sites. That’s why we’re going through the additional work that we are in terms of Wilton.

We know that notice has to be given to Sydney Airport, the current owners, under the legal obligations that have been put in place.

But I would envisage a site needs to be confirmed and then the process of notification given to Sydney Airport. And then construction I would like to see commence in the next term; over the next three years.

We know it takes a substantial period of time to get it up and running, but we know that Sydney Airport is already congested to the point whereby it is a handbrake on national productivity.

Because four out of every ten flights nationally go through Sydney Airport we need to make sure that this problem gets addressed, and that it gets addressed in a way that is bipartisan as well.

I’ve had discussions with people in the Coalition about ensuring that that bipartisan approach can occur. And we know that in the past politics has got in the way. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.

QUESTION: So if construction did start in the next three years, what would be the time frame then? How long does it take to build an airport?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  It takes a substantial period of time to build and construct an airport, and it depends, obviously, on the site chosen what that time frame is.

But in terms of an airport you would begin slowly in terms of the number of flights, the runway configuration, and build up over a period of time.

QUESTION: So if construction did start in the next term you would have to make a decision on a site basically after the election, wouldn’t you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: A decision would need to be made in the first year, and that would certainly be my objective.

I know from discussions I’ve had with the Coalition that a number of their senior members have said exactly the same thing.

QUESTION: Badgerys Creek would be the heavy favourite, wouldn’t it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:   I am not going to pre-empt that process, as much as that was a rather blatant attempt.

What you need to do is to have proper processes in place. People are aware of what the options are. People are also aware of the details because we have published transparently all of the reports.

We’ve done the hard work. There is more work that needs to be done.

But we know also in terms of what Sydney Airport has said in terms of its master plan, and people know also that the issue of road congestion around Sydney Airport, the limited space, the size of Sydney Airport is a real constraint on it. That’s the major constraint.

It’s an advantage for Sydney, but it is also a disadvantage in terms of the potential that is there for growth at the airport.

And we know already that there are real issues with regard to increasingly planes being delayed, and increasingly occurrences whereby a plane – even after it lands – can’t get access to a gate because of the infrastructure constraints that are there on Sydney Airport.

So saying no to a second Sydney airport is essentially saying no to jobs, no to economic growth, and no to Sydney’s future position as a global city.

QUESTION:  Have you spoken to the Premier or the State Government about this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Premier and the State Government are two different things on this question.

The Premier, I think, made a statement about Canberra being Sydney’s second airport that he probably regrets. And common sense tells you that that is not an option.

It is an option in terms of already considered and rejected in terms of the study that was done jointly chaired by the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government; it’s a joint study.

Most of the information in that study, in terms of planning, came from New South Wales Government agencies. And indeed the New South Wales Government had not just the head of the planning department as the joint chair of the report, they also of course had the head of the transport department also on that committee.

QUESTION: Would you be concerned that the Opposition could use this to create fears about aircraft noise in western Sydney and south-western Sydney?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There’s nothing new in my statement, I am committed to a second Sydney airport.

There has been a bipartisan approach to that from leaders in the Coalition, including Joe Hockey and others, for that.

It needs to be worked through in a bipartisan way. If it becomes a partisan political issue, it won’t happen. It’s as simple as that.

That has been a constraint in the past, which is why in spite of some inaccurate media articles from time to time in various journals attempting to say ‘why haven’t you just done this’, there are legal processes to be done and you need to get the analysis right.

I have consistently said that you need bipartisan support in order to get this done.

QUESTION:  When would you like to see this airport up and running?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s not a political decision, that’s a matter of the infrastructure processes being put in place.

If you look at a city such as Melbourne, it has Avalon as its second airport. Of course Essendon also provides some regional flights. But Avalon is very much welcomed by the local community as a generator of jobs, particularly for Geelong.

QUESTION: You have previously ruled out Badgerys. Is it back on the table?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, the report is there. The Labor Party policy supports a second airport for Sydney. What we’re doing is investigating.

Maybe people haven’t kept up. But if you have been keeping up and paying attention – and I know that most of you have been – then you will know that what we’re doing is doing further work on geotechnical work on the Wilton site.

When that is done, it will be published. Then an assessment can be made.

What I’m not doing is getting ahead of that. You can ask in a whole number of different ways but I’m not getting ahead of that.

What I’m doing is saying Sydney needs a second airport, everyone knows Sydney needs a second airport. There needs to be bipartisan support for it.

QUESTION: In terms of construction starting in the next term, are you saying you would like that to be the case, or can you commit a re-elected Labor Government-

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I would like that to be the case. I’d like that to be the case.

You need to go through the process, and indeed there are legal requirements around a second airport for Sydney that have to be fulfilled. Those are legal requirements that were imposed by legislation carried by the former Government.

So in spite of the odd editorial, have a look at what those legal requirements are. They include, for example, 12 months’ notice. They include a whole process due to the first right of refusal that the existing owners of Sydney Airport have.

QUESTION: Every time you have raised this issue, the Premier has said it makes no difference because you haven’t put any money on the table. So, is there any money on the table for this?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The poor old Premier doesn’t seem to understand either that airports are not owned by governments and run by governments these days. They are leased. They are leased by the private sector: major airports.

And indeed the first airport, in terms of Sydney Airport, its owners have a first right of refusal.

Now with that would be some infrastructure costs associated with a second airport for Sydney. That’s a good thing because what that means is infrastructure investment and improvements that have consequences for people also who don’t use the airport. That’s investment into Sydney.

But if you look at the costings of these proposals, and compare it with other major infrastructure projects for Sydney, this is a relatively non-expensive project compared with other proposals for infrastructure in Sydney.



Jul 25, 2013

Epping to Thornleigh third track gets the go-ahead

Planning approval has been granted for the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project, the biggest of the four projects that form the $1.1 billion Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Program.

This paves the way for major construction work to begin on six kilometres of new track between Epping and Thornleigh, a new rail bridge over the M2 at Epping and an upgrade of Cheltenham and Pennant Hills train stations.

The new track will separate slower moving freight trains from CityRail passenger services along the steep incline north of Epping, removing a major bottleneck on the Interstate Rail Freight Network through Sydney and providing additional capacity for northbound interstate freight trains.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese and NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay said construction will begin next month with the Leighton Abigroup Consortium awarded the contract to design and build the project.

“The project will help improve the reliability of passenger services, as well as reliability and transit times across the Interstate Rail Network, which is vital if we are to get more freight off our roads and onto the back of trains,” Mr Albanese said.

“This project will make Sydney work better. It’s good for the environment, the economy and the broader community, especially Sydney commuters.”

“The Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project is part of the unprecedented $2 billion Federally-funded capital works program currently being rolled out across the Sydney basin which also includes the recently completed Southern Sydney Freight Line as well as the improvements we’re currently making to the line to Port Botany.”

The Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project includes:

  • Construction of approximately six kilometres of new track on the western side of the existing track between Epping and Thornleigh;
  • An access upgrade to Cheltenham Station including construction of a new concourse (on the southern side of the existing buildings) to allow space for ticketing facilities, two new lifts and stairs to provide access to the existing platforms;
  • Extension of Pennant Hills Station concourse, including a new lift and stairs and modifications to Yarrara Road footpath and roadway
  • Construction of a new rail bridge crossing the M2 Motorway and Devlins Creek
  • Modifications to the pedestrian underpass and commuter car park at Beecroft Station; and

Mr Gay said major construction of the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project is subject to a number of conditions including guidelines for managing operational noise.

“Planning approval for the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project follows public exhibition of an Environmental Impact Statement late last year, extensive consultation and preparation of a report responding to the 950 community and stakeholder submissions received,” he said.

“We’ve listened to what the community has identified as their key concerns and will implement measures to address these.”

The Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Program is due for completion in 2016.

Within 15 years, it is expected the Program will reduce the growth of heavy vehicle movements between Sydney and Newcastle by around 200,000 trips each year.

This equates to a decrease of about 40 million litres of diesel usage and a reduction of 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.


Click on image for larger version

Northern Sydney Freight Corridor

Map showing the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor from Sydney to Newcastle


Jul 25, 2013

Turnbull confirms plan to slug Australians up to $5,000 to connect to superfast broadband

The Coalition has confirmed that Australians would be forced to pay up to $5,000 to connect fibre direct to their home or business if they win the election.

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

Malcolm Turnbull told Sky News that if Australians wanted the same superfast broadband under the Coalition: “that would be a charge of some thousands of dollars”.[1]

When asked directly to guarantee that the charge would not be as much as $5,000, Mr Turnbull said:

“Well, we haven’t set a rate for it.”[2]

Mr Turnbull went on to give an example of a fibre-on-demand service from the United Kingdom:

“The cost of getting fibre on demand over that distance (500 metres) is 1500 pounds, which I think would work out about $3000.”[3]

This confirms that Mr Turnbull’s plan is modelled on BT in the UK, which charges up to $5,000.[4]

Mr Turnbull also admitted that most households would not want to take up this service. That is not surprising seeing that they would be slugged ‘several thousands of dollars’ to connect to superfast broadband.

Labor believes access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband is an essential service, like water and electricity. It shouldn’t be a lottery that depends on how much money you have or how close to node you live.

[1] Malcolm Turnbull, Sky News PM Agenda, 24 July

[2] Malcolm Turnbull, Sky News PM Agenda, 24 July

[3] Malcolm Turnbull, Sky News PM Agenda, 24 July

Jul 25, 2013

Trains on track for higher frequency

More trains will be able to run at peak times on existing metropolitan rail infrastructure thanks to the Rudd Government’s decision to allocate dedicated radio spectrum for rail networks.

This dedicated spectrum enables state rail authorities to deploy next-generation wireless rail control and safety systems, allowing more trains to run with greater frequency.

These new systems will allow more frequent rail services, enabling up to 50 per cent more trains at peak times.

This would result in the capacity of metro rail networks increasing by 51,390 additional passengers per hour in Sydney, and 64,000 additional passengers per hour in Melbourne.

Investing in new infrastructure is important, but so is using the infrastructure we have as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Future deployments of high-speed rail will also be able to take advantage of dedicated spectrum to implement advanced rail communications systems.

Mr Bryan Nye, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, said harmonising the allocation of radio spectrum for rail across the continent is a world first.

“This will enable us to move quickly to Digital Rail Control systems, which will revolutionise train control and operation across Australia.”

The Australian Government has allocated harmonised spectrum licences in the 1800MHz band to rail authorities at a public interest price, delivering an effective cost saving to the States of $33.8 million.

Victoria and New South Wales are well-advanced in deploying their next-generation rail technology.

Other States can proceed confident that they can address future increases in demand for rail services by implementing a nationally harmonised and interoperable approach to rail safety and control.


Jul 24, 2013

Holbrook bypass to traffic next week

Traffic will start using the Holbrook Bypass from next Wednesday (31 July), meaning for the first time people will be able to drive all the way from Melbourne to Sydney along a modern dual carriageway road.

This follows the completion of the construction phase of the Hume Highway last month.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese said the Holbrook bypass will provide motorists with a faster, safer trip between Sydney and Melbourne.

“The bypass will take up to 2,700 trucks a day off the local streets of Holbrook, steering them away from residential and shopping areas and provide a safer environment for pedestrians in the township,” he said.

“Motorists who use this section of the highway will experience safer driving conditions and shorter travel times.”

NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay said traffic will be moved on to the bypass in four stages on 31 July, starting with north bound traffic in two stages from about 7:30 am.

“South bound traffic is expected to be moved on to the new road by 4:00 pm, weather permitting,” he said.

“Work will take place to remove concrete barriers and old line marking during each of the four stages of the traffic switch.

“For the safety of workers, an 80 kilometre per hour speed limit will be in place for a week after the bypass opens while final work is completed, after which the 110 kilometre per hour speed limit will be introduced.”

The bypass starts four kilometres north of Holbrook where it crosses west of the cemetery, sewage treatment plant and industrial area and then crosses Culcairn Road.

From Culcairn Road the bypass crosses Ten Mile Creek and re-joins the existing Hume Highway two kilometres south of Holbrook.

The $242 million Holbrook bypass was fully funded by the Federal Government.


Jul 24, 2013

More overtaking lanes along the Bruce Highway on the way

Construction companies interested in installing new overtaking lanes along the Bruce Highway near Mackay and Whitsunday have until 15 August to submit their best bids.

The contract is for the construction of two extra overtaking lanes on the Bruce Highway – part of a package to build 18 new overtaking lanes.

This package will address the lack of safe overtaking opportunities on what is a vital freight and tourism link.

The new overtaking lanes will allow motorists to safely overtake trucks, buses and vehicles towing caravans—reducing the number of risky manoeuvres motorists sometimes take to overtake these vehicles.

The Mackay and Whitsunday region is experiencing significant growth, so it’s important our road infrastructure is upgraded to meet its future needs.

The new overtaking lanes are planned for two locations either side of Duck Creek, north of Proserpine.

They follow four overtaking lanes already built between Mackay and Proserpine, and another four currently in progress.

Tenders close on 15 August 2013 with construction scheduled to start in November 2013.

The overtaking lanes are part of the Federal Labor Government’s unprecedented $5.7 billion investment to upgrade the Bruce Highway which includes the first ever dedicated program targeting crash black spots and providing new rest areas in addition to new overtaking lanes.


Jul 24, 2013

It’s time to stop the games and fix the Pacific Highway

Today’s shameless comments from NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Roads Minister Duncan Gay proves that the Liberal and National Parties are masters at saying one thing in opposition and then doing the complete opposite once they get into government.

The only obstacle to completing the full duplication of the Pacific Highway is the refusal of the NSW Coalition Government to honour the commitment they gave prior to being elected.

Despite repeatedly promising matching Federal-State funding, the NSW Coalition has so far failed to deliver their share.  It’s time Mr Stoner and Mr Gay took some of their own advice and stop playing politics.

After all, the principle of 50:50 funding was first established not by Federal Labor but by his own colleagues in the former Howard Government.

This Federal Labor Government has already committed $7.9 billion, which is our share of the funding required to get the job done.  Over the next 12 months, work will begin and continue along more than 165 kilometres of this vital road.

Rebuilding the Pacific Highway is the largest, most complex road project ever undertaken in Australia and as history has shown, Federal Labor has always delivered more than the Liberal and National Parties.

The fact is had the former Howard Government spent as much as we now are, this road would today be fully duplicated.