Browsing articles in "Ministerial Media Releases"
Jul 19, 2013

Training Australia’s future maritime workforce

The Transport and Logistics Centre will administer new training incentives to bolster Australia’s maritime workforce as part of the Federal Labor Government’s Freight and Maritime Package.

Under this package, $5 million has been made available to assist Australia’s shipping industry to meet its future training needs. This funding will go towards new training incentives, a biennial census of the maritime workforce and the development of a demand aggregation model to identify future training requirements.

This is in line with the key recommendations made by the Maritime Workforce Development Forum earlier this year.

The training incentives will get our up-and-coming maritime workforce out on the water where they get the hands-on skills that will boost our economy into the future. This initiative will provide $10,000 per trainee and $20,000 per engineer or officer for positions on ships for mandatory at-sea training.

As an island nation we depend on ships and the crews that sail them to connect the Australian economy to the rest of the world.

Our maritime workforce is ageing. 47 per cent of our seafarer workforce is aged 50 years or older.  There are simply not enough new entrants to the maritime workforce to meet industry’s forecasted demand into the future.

These are not skills that Australia cannot afford to lose. We need to find ways to make a career in maritime a career of choice.

To do that we need to ensure that Australia continues to offer high quality training, including practical experience at sea.

The commitment by this government is a co-contribution to the cost of training. It is government working with industry to recruit, train and retain our future maritime workers now.

Together, these initiatives will support the growth of Australian maritime capability and promote trade and economic growth.


Jul 19, 2013

Transcript of joint doorstop interview with Innes Willox, CEO Australian Industry Group – Sydney

Subjects:  NBN manufacturing digital business kits; NBN Co; Future of Australian manufacturing; Asylum seekers; Fringe benefit tax; Coalition’s fraudband policy

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is about making sure that Australian manufacturing has a great future, and a great future is dependent upon manufacturing taking advantage of the opportunities that new technology and the digital world brings.

This morning we have seen how manufacturing has been transformed here. Tasks that would have been done by a metal worker are still done by a metal worker but with the assistance of new computer-generated activity that makes it more efficient, increases productivity and increases the opportunities for business not just here, but around the globe.

Increasingly what we know is that businesses, particularly small to medium enterprises, who are engaged in the online world, make more money, they grow their business faster, and they are more likely to be hiring new staff.

The National Broadband Network will give the manufacturing sector access to new markets, more efficient business processes, and new manufacturing technologies.

Whether it be here or at Keech, a company where I had discussions with just a couple of weeks ago in Bendigo, right around Australia we know that this kit will help prepare businesses such as this for the arrival of the NBN.

The business here is in the footprint for the beginning of construction of the NBN in the next 12 months. What we know from talking to Kevin is that yesterday he had to download a file and two and a half hours later it happened. We need to get better than that. We need to compete by being smart. Being smart means accessing broadband technology at the highest speeds that we can in most efficient way to deliver it. That is fibre technology through the NBN.

This will be delivered to every small business in Australia. And I think if there are three big areas where you can immediately identify the benefits of the NBN, it is manufacturing, it is in the delivery of health services and the delivery of education services.

The Prime Minister has said that he wants to be leader of a country that continues to make things. We know that can happen. We know that it can happen but in order for it to happen we need to compete on the basis of high skilled, high value add, best products possible, and part of that is embracing new technology.

So thank you Kevin, I look forward to seeing AIG. This is one of ten kits that we are rolling across in different sectors for how different sectors can benefit.

We know in terms of the farming sector that it can make an enormous difference in terms of agriculture. So new technology can tell you when is the right time to farm the salmon or pick the grape, when is the maximum benefit given, and new technology will have a big impact on increasing the yields and increasing the benefits available to the farming sector for example.

There is no doubt that manufacturing, which is so important for employment and for economic activity and is such an important sector to the national economy that this will make a big difference and we are doing it.

So it is not Government delivering it; the people best placed to deliver the digital business kit are of course the sector itself. This is a part of a Government that is prepared to engage and interact and partner with the business community in order to deliver these economic benefits.

INNES WILLOX:  Thank you Deputy Prime Minister and thank you Kevin for hosting us here today at OGIS Engineering. It is a great pleasure to be here, it’s a great pleasure because this is an area that manufacturing is very focused on.

Manufacturing is under significant competitive pressures at the moment. We have seen the pressures of the high dollar, high energy costs, increased import competition and the like over recent years, and a measure like this is very important to help manufacturers compete.

We heard Kevin talk about how he takes hours to download files from his customers and that impacts on his productivity, and access to broadband, high speed broadband, is an area that will be crucial to improving competitiveness in businesses like this and manufacturing more generally.

This is really important for manufacturers to help them grow their businesses in the global environment. It is about running their businesses more efficiently and more effectively. It is about reducing business costs, getting better real time results and getting more expertise into their business; be it accounting expertise, outside expertise to make them able to compete better.

It is about online marketing and communication and collaboration through high speed broadband. All of that is important to business in Australia in the 21st century. It is about improving their design capabilities through 3D printing and the like. All of that can be impacted by high speed broadband.

It is about improving our capabilities to develop real advanced manufacturing strengths within Australia, something we have to do if we are to compete globally.

So this is a really important initiative that has been taken by Government in collaboration with business to develop the competitive strengths of the business community and particularly manufacturing in Australia.

It’s something that we welcome, it’s something that we are very pleased to be part of, and we see enormous benefits now and into the future for the manufacturing sector if we get this right.

We’re very proud to be playing our part. So Kevin, thank you for hosting us today and you will be one of the first ones, I hope, to benefit.

QUESTION:  Deputy Prime Minister, are you concerned that the NBN Co board may be using public money to lobby the Opposition?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  The NBN Co board makes its own decisions, it’s an independent board. What I am concerned about is Malcolm Turnbull’s ongoing attacks, which are pretty unprecedented, on board members of NBN Co.

And I say to Malcolm that it is time to stop playing politics with this and to stop the personal attacks against, whether it be the chair, or the NBN Co board members. This is unprecedented in terms of attacks on a government business enterprise board.

I am the shareholder minister of a number of organisations, including the Australian Rail Track Corporation, and others. I have never seen before any shadow minister from any side of politics play such a political role targeting particular board members.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to the NBN Co chair about this issue?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I keep my discussions with the NBN Co chair on a professional level. I will continue to do that. That is appropriate.

QUESTION: Do you expect a backlash in electorates like yours if the Government is seen to be taking [inaudible]?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  The Government will do what is right on the asylum seeker issue.

When the people smugglers’ business model changes, it is also appropriate that Government policy adjust.

QUESTION:  Can you confirm plans – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is planning to resettle asylum seekers in neighbouring nations such as Papua New Guinea and Manus Island; that is on the front page of the Daily Telegraph?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I certainly can confirm that the Prime Minister has had discussions, including with President Yudhoyono in Jakarta, about the need for regional solutions to the issue of asylum seekers.

We believe very strongly that that is appropriate. Those discussions are taking place, have taken place. There will be a regional summit.

It is appropriate that the Prime Minister of course raise these issues with regional leaders, and I certainly very much welcome Indonesia’s announcement overnight that they will change the visa requirements for visitors from Iran in particular, but other countries, to make sure that appropriate measures are put in place. I welcome that by Indonesia.

That is an example of how you get an outcome through a cooperative relationship with our neighbours, rather than what we have seen from the Opposition, which is lecturing our neighbours.

QUESTION:  A new poll shows Malcolm Turnbull [inaudible] Kevin Rudd in an election if he was to replace Tony Abbott. Is the Government concerned about the prospect of Turnbull returning?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  I think Malcolm Turnbull is out there raising these issues. He said the other day that he was more popular than Tony Abbott. There’s no doubt that the internal tensions within the Coalition are there. I expect they will grow in coming days and weeks, but that is a matter for the Coalition.

I do think that there is a significant problem that the Opposition have, which is their relentless negativity and saying no to everything. Including today on the Today show, what seems like many hours ago now, but was sometime just after 6am. Christopher Pyne was critical of the FBT changes.

What the FBT changes do is simply say that people who aren’t entitled to a tax concession won’t get it. It doesn’t take away anything from anyone in terms of entitlements.

It just says, if you don’t use your car for work, you’re not entitled to claim it. That is all, a very simple measure.

They are out there beating this up, which will once again talk down confidence in terms of the economy.

But Christopher Pyne, just like the Shadow Minister Sophie Mirabella yesterday, couldn’t actually say that they would change it or not support this measure, and it is typical that the Coalition under Tony Abbott I think are overly negative.

The Australian people know that and as we get closer to an election you have to do more than just say no. You have to actually say what your alternative policies and your alternative vision for the nation is.

QUESTION: Mr Willox, does the AIG have any concerns about the change to FBT on cars?

INNES WILLOX:  I have to be careful because I am standing next to the Deputy Prime Minister. But I’ll just say what we’ve said publicly and that is, we need to look through the details of this.

There have been concerns expressed by car manufacturers about the impact by leasing companies, you’ve seen that. We need to work through the details before we can really get to the bottom of it. And that will be part of a consultation process that I know is going on as of today.

QUESTION:  Are you aware of people who are using the system for private use and might be caught out by the change?

INNES WILLOX:   Me personally? No.

QUESTION:  Are you happy with the way change was made?

INNES WILLOX:  It was part of a decision made by the Government around changes to the carbon tax, which we welcomed the move to an emissions trading scheme that still has to be legislated.

One area that we have expressed some concern about is: is this a permanent change to the taxation system or is it a temporary change over a shorter time frame. But we will need to work through the detail of that, and that is part of a much broader decision.

QUESTION:  Deputy Prime Minister, do you believe a government business enterprise like NBN Co should be able to contract a lobbying firm?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  You have asked me the question, you have already got an answer. If you want to keep asking it, you will get the same answer. I refer you to my previous answer.

QUESTION:  But experts say that it could be a breach of [inaudible] in both the private sector and in the public sector. Do you believe that it is?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Do I believe that a company employing a public relations company is in breach of company guidelines? Good luck with that.

Has AIG ever employed a PR company? Get serious.

QUESTION:  It is not a PR company, they are lobbyists.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  They are a PR company. They are a PR company led by Alexander Downer and Ian Smith. And if Malcolm Turnbull has a great problem with Alexander Downer and Ian Smith, the divisions in the Coalition go back a long way.

I don’t think, seriously, in terms of the National Broadband Network, you might think this is the issue; whether a PR company has been employed for a short period of time to do some work.

Seriously, that is the sort of approach, whether it be from a journalist or from Malcolm Turnbull, that Australians are turning off. Australians want vision from their national government.

They know that the National Broadband Network, that will transform the way that manufacturing works, will transform the delivery of education and health services, will secure employment, will enable us to compete with our neighbours – that is about uploads as well as downloads in terms of files and being able to compete with our neighbours.

They know that the National Broadband Network, in delivering fibre to the home – as opposed to the absurdity of fibre to the fridge on the corner, and then copper to the home – they know what the difference is.

They know also that the NBN will deliver the same service at the same price, whether you live in regional Australia or whether you live in the CBD or inner suburbs such as here at Rosebery.

They are the issues that people are concerned about and frankly, the ongoing nit-picking, negativity of the Opposition, and some of the media focus, is precisely the sort of negative political frame that people are reacting against. The Government will continue to push a positive agenda and to put things properly in perspective.

And I will give you the big tip. I haven’t had an email or a phone call, or I was at St Peters station and Stanmore station today, people weren’t raising with me whether NBN Co has employed a PR company as a result of responding to the quite extraordinary correspondence from Malcolm Turnbull to the board of NBN Co.

You know what they’re talking about? When can I get NBN Co in my home? When can I get NBN Co and fast speed broadband in my small business? How much will it cost? What are the implications behind me having to pay $5,000 to connect fibre to my home if Malcolm Turnbull’s policy gets its way?

So let’s focus on what the actual real debate is out there. I think that is a task for politics. It is a task for politicians of all persuasions. It is a challenge to Tony Abbott and the Opposition. It is also a challenge for the media, frankly, to actually focus on this because let me tell you, just like internationally in terms of the Australian economy, people look at the Australian economy and how well it is going.

One of the problems is that indeed because of growth factors and our comparative advantage in terms of economic growth compared with other advanced nations, it has put pressure on the dollar. That has meant pressure on Australian manufacturing. How do we deal with that? How do we deal with that? They’re the sort of questions. That is why I am here today with Kevin and with AIG. They are the questions that people are concerned about.

I really think there is an opportunity I hope in coming weeks to lift up the debate, so actually talk about what the real issues confronting Australia are in terms of securing our future. Whether it be in terms of infrastructure development in general that I have responsibility for, or whether it be Australia’s largest ever infrastructure project, the NBN.

QUESTION: As Communications Minister, what is your response to the spat between the Federal Opposition’s Communications Spokesman Malcolm Turnbull and the chair of NBN Co?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Well I’ve responded to that. It’s a distraction from what people are concerned about. And it’s a deliberate distraction because Malcolm Turnbull has a fraudband policy and a policy that relies on copper and the technology of the 19th century.

Now we had this debate in Australia in 1910 in the parliament over whether we’d move from iron to copper. And there were a whole lot of people then in 1910, if you look it up in Hansard, saying ‘no, the iron stuff has served us fine, iron wire, for the last 30 years, we can keep it, that will do, it’s fast enough’.

Those people back then who embraced copper were embracing the technology of then, the best technology and the technology which served us well in the 20th century.

We are now in the 21st century. It is beyond belief that anyone who is serious about Australia’s economic future can say copper is good enough, don’t worry about fibre.

We need to compete in our region. We live in the fastest growing region of the world.

You know what I think? I think Australian manufacturing has a great future. Why? Because gentlemen such as Kevin here and other small businesses are employing people and they’re up with the times.

We can produce things that are high value to compete in our region, to open up export markets as well as supply for the domestic market. But we can only do that, we can only do that if we embrace the future, not if we engage in what was a debate for 1910, but is not a debate for 2013.

Malcolm Turnbull knows his policy is a dud, that’s why he’s playing the person rather than the policy.

Thanks very much.



Jul 19, 2013

Investing in Katherine infrastructure

The Federal Labor Government will provide up to $10 million for the first stage of a heavy vehicle bypass of Katherine.

This is a great result for the region will help ensure heavy vehicles are diverted away from local streets.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese said the new Katherine bypass will eventually deliver safer and smoother driving conditions for heavy vehicles and other vehicles travelling through Katherine on the Victoria Highway and Stuart Highway.

“Currently, the main street corridor is the only existing transport route through Katherine and during the peak tourism season, it has to accommodate a mix of pedestrian traffic, tourist traffic and heavy vehicles,” he said.

“Getting heavy vehicles off local streets will make it safer for all road users and make Katherine a better place to live.”

The funding will build the first stage of the Katherine Bypass and includes:

  • upgrade of Bicentennial Road to provide for increased heavy vehicular traffic;
  • upgrade of the intersections of the Stuart Highway and Bicentennial Road and Victoria Highway and Bicentennial Road; and
  • planning for the further stages of the heavy vehicle bypass that takes into account the proposed freight hub

“This is a strong commitment to Katherine’s massive growth potential and planning for the town’s modern infrastructure needs,” Mr Albanese said.

Federal Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon has welcomed the final approval of this project.

“It has taken a while to get to this point and Katherine Town Council is to be congratulated on its pursuit of this project.  The previous and current Mayors and Councils have worked closely with the Commonwealth and have got the best result,” he said.

“It’s a big step in planning strategically for Katherine.”

The Government has agreed the scope of works and funding with the Katherine Town Council and will work closely with the Council and Northern Territory Government to deliver this important project.

Work will start in the coming months and be completed by mid next year.

Funding for this project is just one component of the record $1.1 billion the Federal Labor Government is investing to rebuild and renew the Territory’s roads.


Jul 19, 2013

Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson & Karl Stefanovic – Today, Nine Network

Subjects:  Asylum seekers; Fringe Benefits Tax

KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s time now for In the House with Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne. He’s got a fancy title since you were here last.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He’s really come up in the world.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been a big three weeks.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Since he’s been doing this show.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Exactly, we like to claim credit for it. Let’s start with boat arrivals. Any developments overnight at all, any more boats coming?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The development overnight which is pretty important is Indonesia making an announcement that they would remove the exemption that has been there for people from Islamic countries have automatically got visas, from Iran.

That won’t happen, they are moving on that and they have made that announcement overnight, which is pretty good news.

LISA WILKINSON: What sort of difference do you think it will make?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  What it will do is stop the transit traffic going from Iran, Middle East, Indonesia, get your visa on arrival, and then have already pre-organised a people smuggler to put you on a boat.

That will be far more difficult if there’s not an automatic transit through Indonesia. It’s an example of good cooperation and I congratulate and thank the Indonesian Government for doing what they have done.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  There’s also a story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today saying that you have cut a deal with other countries. Is that true?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’re doing, and we’ve said this, is there needs to be a regional solution to this. So we are in discussions-

KARL STEFANOVIC: You haven’t cut a deal yet, you’re just in discussions?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, announcements will be made when they’re made, and I’m not in a position to make further detail here. But suffice to say we know that part of the solution is a regional solution, and we of course made an arrangement when the Prime Minister went to Jakarta to see President Yudhoyono they announced the regional summit. So those steps are in place.

LISA WILKINSON: Christopher Pyne, you must be pleased to hear that there is movement happening?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I think the decision the Indonesians have made about the Iranian visa holders is a good one. It would be good if Malaysia made the same decision because that would then end that capacity to come through either Malaysia or Indonesia. So that’s the next step. But we do welcome Indonesia’s move.

In terms of the stories in the Daily Telegraph this morning, I had two thoughts about them. One, it sounds like Australia is a regional processing hub, and I’m not sure that’s going to stop the boats if we are the regional processing hub. And it sounded like more summits, more meetings for Kevin Rudd to fly to around the world to see world leaders to talk about stopping the boats.

The only way to stop the boats of course is to take away the sugar off the table, which is permanent residency. If you make people who come by boat unable to get permanent residency, which is what John Howard did, it takes the sugar off the table.

Offshore processing, and of course turning back the boats when it’s safe to do so. And we’re now seeing a lot of naval officers and people from the military saying that that’s perfectly capable of being done. And that is the most important thing you can do to stop people smugglers having a business plan.

LISA WILKINSON: We’re also seeing a lot of naval officers who are really suffering through this process as well.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: They are thoroughly sick of it. I mean the Navy doesn’t want to be a taxi service for people smugglers, it wants to defend Australia.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Is it actually legal to turn the boats around, in terms of international piracy, if you look at the strict definition of piracy, is it actually legal for you, I mean have you checked that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well if there are fishing boats or people smugglers on international waters, then there’s no reason why Australia can’t say here’s enough fuel for you to get back to Indonesia where you came from. You’re not coming to Australia. That’s perfectly within our rights to do that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Alright let’s move on. Let’s have a look at the salary sacrificing cars issue which has been a hot one the last couple of days. A little bit later in the show we’ve got a man called Danny Wilson coming in, he runs a car leasing company – NLC.

Basically yesterday he has been forced to sack 83 workers following these proposed changes because the phones essentially just stopped. I mean, was there enough consultation done with business? Was there enough warning or was this just policy on the run?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This was certainly not policy on the run. When you make tax changes, you announce them and they come into force on that date, and that occurs with all tax measures. It has occurred for time immemorial.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  It’s started?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, it requires legislation but let’s be serious about what this is.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Just to clarify, sorry I want the detail here, has it started yet? Or will it require legislation?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Correct, but it will start from the day of announcement, that’s what happens with tax changes, for obvious reasons so people can’t shift and avoid tax.

And all we’re talking about here is that anyone who is entitled to claim will still be able to claim, simple as that. All we’re doing is removing a loophole whereby some people who are claiming entitlements that they weren’t due, because they weren’t actually using their car for work, can’t continue to claim them. This is a common sense change.

LISA WILKINSON: People do get a bit spooked though when they know the tax department are going to be all over something like this. For a lot of people in business, they’re people who are under $100,000 and they are aspiring. And the car becomes part of something that means they can aspire to something better. Surely the Labor Party would support that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Absolutely, and guess what Lisa, people in business who use their car use it for a lot more than 20 per cent of the time. The tradies out there using their utes, the people who might be the salespeople driving around use it for a lot more, they keep a log book.

And what will occur is12 weeks every five years you get an app, you put it on your phone, keeps a record, done. It is as simple as that.

The only people this will affect are people who are claiming they were using their car for work who aren’t using their car for work, simple as that.

HOST: Will you wind this back if you get into office?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I think the first thing is that on this day that Kevin Rudd announced that he was terminating the carbon tax, he didn’t terminate the carbon tax but he is terminating the car industry. Wreck it Rudd; he’s all talk and now action.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Will you get rid of it? You don’t know.


KARL STEFANOVIC: What are you going to do?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’m going to finish my sentence.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  This is a yes or no.

KARL STEFANOVIC: You keep rambling and rambling.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’m not rambling. The point is, he was going to terminate the carbon tax, he didn’t.

KARL STEFANOVIC: You’re rambling again.

LISA WILKINSON:  He’s still not answering the question.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It is highly unlikely that the parliament will sit and this will be legislated. So it’s highly unlikely the Coalition will get to vote against this before the election.

But if we do win the election, which is our plan, it’s highly unlikely we would ever introduce this.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Of course they will.

KARL STEFANOVIC: What we would do is talk to industry, which Rudd didn’t do, so old Kevin has not changed at all. We’ll ask the industry first if what Labor is saying about the car industry is true.

If it’s not true, and I suspect Labor’s not telling the truth about this otherwise a previous Treasurer would have done it before, we will not support it.

LISA WILKINSON: Well the industry would say don’t do it.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So I’ve answered your question. After consultation with the car industry, which Labor didn’t do, I think it’s highly unlikely that we will support this legislation at any point.

And if we win the election, it’s highly unlikely that we will introduce it because it’s a job destroying tax, just like the mining tax.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  As you know, highly unlikely is not definitive.

LISA WILKINSON:  There’s a door about that much open.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We haven’t had a Shadow Cabinet meeting to discuss it, and we haven’t consulted with industry. We’re doing that now.

Unlike Labor who didn’t do any of those things, we think that’s how government should work. But we don’t believe we should destroy the car industry.

I come from South Australia, I want Holden to stay open. They’re the ones who are introducing this thing.

KARL STEFANOVIC: We’ve got to go guys, it took you ten minutes to fire up.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  And he still couldn’t say yes.



Jul 19, 2013

NBN training kit for manufacturing businesses

Small-to-medium sized businesses in the manufacturing sector will soon be able to access tailored advice on how to improve and build their businesses by using the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) will receive $500,000 to develop a digital business kit to help manufacturers get online and use the NBN to drive productivity.

For Australian businesses to take full advantage of the NBN they need targeted information, as well as an understanding of how leading small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their industry are using the internet and online tools.
Australia must continue to be a country that builds things. Embracing the opportunities provided by the NBN gives the manufacturing sector access to new markets and the ability to streamline their supply chains.

Ai Group’s Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said “Australian manufacturing has a positive future that can be built on adding value through design, technological, product and process innovation.  To achieve this, manufacturers need fast and readily available broadband to enable the digital technologies and services they need to deliver real-time, collaborative and competitive business practices.

“However, our own research has shown that many small to medium sized business in particular lack the knowledge and confidence in their ability to take advantage of high-speed broadband.  This digital business kit program will help fill that knowledge gap and provide much needed resources to make our members and SMEs across the manufacturing sector more digitally ready,” Mr Willox said.

The digital business kit for manufacturers will include training modules, case studies of SMEs using the NBN to build their businesses, and interactive activities that focus on getting started with the NBN, using online communication channels, and how high-speed broadband can improve supply chain opportunities.

Ai Group will raise awareness of the kit via a purpose-built website, email and social media campaigns and advertising to a range of industry associations. The kit will be regularly updated to incorporate new ways of making use of the NBN as these emerge in the sector. Funding is subject to the negotiation of funding agreements.

The Rudd Government is providing a total of $5 million to develop digital business kits for 10 industry sectors.


Jul 18, 2013

Fremantle Tunnel open for business

The Perth City Link project has reached a major milestone, with train services now running through the Fremantle Tunnel.

Today I joined the WA Minister for Transport Troy Buswell to celebrate this significant milestone and witness how this exciting project will cater for Perth’s growing population and the city’s future public transport needs.

The Perth City Link project will reconnect the city centre with Northbridge for the first time in more than 100 years and open up 50,000 square metres of land for new retail, commercial and residential developments.

It will fundamentally transform the heart of the Western Australian capital and the way people use the city.

In the coming months, the new pedestrian underground link between the Perth Station and the Perth Underground Station will be opened, making it easier for commuters to change trains.

City Link also shows what is possible when all three levels of government are prepared to work together and pool resources, with this $360 million project being backed by the Federal and State governments as well as the City of Perth.

Importantly, this visionary project is part of Federal Labor’s historic investment in urban public transport infrastructure around the country. We’ve already committed more Federal dollars to such projects than all our predecessors since Federation combined.

This is the type of project that will never receive Federal funding if the Liberal and National Parties are elected later this year.  Tony Abbott has made it very clear that the Federal Government should not be in the business of funding urban public transport projects, dismissing traffic congestion as someone else’s problem to fix.

The Perth City Link project is a real example of this Federal Labor Government’s unprecedented $6.9 billion investment in the State’s road, rail and public transport infrastructure.


Jul 17, 2013

Mammoth upgrade to interstate network at an end

In another sign of Federal Labor’s commitment to the nation’s rail network, the final 15 kilometres of a mammoth 711 kilometre program to upgrade a section of track from South Australia to New South Wales has been completed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the re-railing is the final part of a significant $288 million Nation Building program to upgrade the interstate rail network between Parkes and Cootamundra and Broken Hill and Whyalla.

“This program, originally funded under Labor’s economic stimulus plan, will mean a section of track is now heavier, stronger and better able to support one of the busiest freight transport corridors in the country,” he said.

At its peak the project supported around 200 jobs, as well as 40 contract steel jobs that were created at Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks to meet the demand of Nation Building projects.

“Nation Building projects like this are important because they create local jobs and support regional Australian communities,” Mr Albanese said.

“This re-railing upgrade, which is part of the Rudd Government’s significant investment in rebuilding the nation’s freight network, has supported local jobs at Whyalla’s steelworks, and it will improve the productivity of the transport sector.”

The re-railing program has seen 47kg/m rail replaced with heavier, stronger 60kg/m rail which will help heavier, more efficient trains use the rail corridor. 

The 60kg/m rail, in combination with other infrastructure improvements in the corridor, means two key domestic steel routes now operate across stronger rail for the entire journey.

“The productivity improvements include reduced maintenance and train operating costs, better track reliability and improved transit times,” Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton said.

“Trains running on the Sydney to Perth corridor will benefit from the improved punctuality and reduced congestion due to the re-railing upgrades as well as recent concrete re-sleepering works, in one of the busiest interstate freight corridors in the country.”


Jul 17, 2013

Tony Abbott’s Bruce Highway “Promise”: Too little, too late

I welcome Tony Abbott and the LNP’s belated interest in the Bruce Highway.

It’s just a pity they couldn’t be bothered “fixing” it the last time they were in government, even though the current Leader of the Nationals Warren Truss was their Transport Minister.

In fact they slashed the Federal roads budget by $2 billion.

Now they expect us to believe that given a second chance they will do the job right.  They must think we’re all mugs.

A closer look at Mr Abbott’s numbers also reveals that they actually plan to spend less on the Highway over the next four years than what we have already put into the Budget.  Most of their funding is on the never-never.

And how can anyone put any faith in this latest “promise” from Mr Abbott given that he – like Campbell Newman before him – plans to establish to a ‘commission of cuts’ to review all areas of government spending, including infrastructure.

I think political parties should be judged on what they deliver in government – and when it comes to the Bruce, the LNP only ever cares about this road when they’re in opposition but just as quickly ignore it once they are elected to office.

By comparison, Federal Labor’s commitment to the Bruce Highway currently stands at an unprecedented $5.7 billion – more than four times what the Howard Government spent over a similar period of time (i.e. $1.3 billion).

That’s real money for real projects that are making a real difference.

As recent history has shown, Federal Labor always delivers more than the LNP.



  • Duplication of the Douglas Arterial (Townsville);
  • Upgrade of the southern approaches to Sarina;
  • Construction of a new, higher bridge over the Isis River;
  • Duplication of Section B between Cooroy and Curra;
  • Resurfacing of the Nambour Bypass;
  • Elimination of 63 notorious black spots;
  • 12 new and upgraded rest stops; and
  • Construction of 11 additional overtaking lanes.


  • Construction of a new interchange at the intersection between the Bruce and Dawson Highways, the Calliope Crossroads near Gladstone;
  • Upgrade of the intersection between the Bruce and Capricorn highways (Yeppen roundabout);
  • Upgrade of the southern approach to Mackay;
  • Flattening and straightening the Bruce Highway over the Cardwell Range;
  • Projects associated with the Burdekin Road Safety Audit including the upgrade of intersections along Edward Street in Ayr between Queen Street and Jones Street and construction of two new overtaking lanes south of Home Hill;
  • Upgrade of the southern approach to Cairns;
  • Strengthening the bridge over the Burdekin Bridge;
  • Straightening and widening the Bruce Highway from Cabbage Tree Creek to Carman Road, and across Back Creek Range;
  • Straightening the Bruce Highway just south of Gin Gin and upgrading the intersection with the Bundaberg-Gin Gin Road;
  • Straightening and raising the Bruce Highway between Sandy Corner and Collinsons Lagoon;
  • Upgrading the Pumicestone Road interchange including the construction of a new higher overpass over Bruce Highway;
  • Duplication of the Bruce Highway between the Cooroy South interchange and Sankeys Road (also known as Section A).


  • Yeppen South Floodplain Upgrade;
  • Mackay Northern Access upgrade;
  • Mackay Ring Road — finalise planning and build;
  • Rockhampton Northern Access Corridor — Yeppoon Road to Boundary Road;
  • North Queensland Flood Immunity Package;
  • Caloundra Rd to Sunshine Motorway — Stage 1;
  • Gateway Motorway to Caboolture — Managed Motorways;
  • Pavement widening: St Lawrence to Bowen;
  • Cairns Southern Access Corridor – widening between Robert Rd to Foster Rd;
  • Bruce Highway – South of Home Hill to North of Ingham;
  • Cooroy to Curra Section C & D;
  • Bruce Highway Black Spots;
  • Bruce Highway Overtaking Lanes.
Jul 17, 2013

South Perth to benefit from NBN enabled council services

Residents and businesses in South Perth, Western Australia, will be able to easily lodge development and building applications to their council directly from their home or office, thanks to a new online lodgement and tracking system supported by the National Broadband Network.

The project is being funded as part of the Rudd Labor Government’s Digital Local Government program.

Applicants will be able to speak ‘face-to-face’ with council staff via high-definition videoconferencing during the assessment process rather than applicants having to travel to the council offices. Local residents and businesses will also be able to follow their development and building submissions through the entire approval process.

All of this is being made possible by the NBN’s world-class high speed broadband.  The NBN is helping put residents and ratepayers at the heart of local government service delivery – which is where they should be.

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

Less time spent in council queues and fighting traffic means people can spend more time with their family or focused on their business.

“This project will see the City of South Perth’s approvals speed up with planning officers being able to work online with very complex drawings, maps, and plans instead of using a cumbersome paper-based system,” City of South Perth Deputy Mayor, Kevin Trent said.

The City of South Perth will receive a grant of $214,000 to deliver the online development and building application lodgement services, with the City contributing around $87,000. The final funding amount is subject to the negotiation of a funding deed.

For more details on the Digital Local Government program visit:

Jul 17, 2013

Labor’s NBN bringing more jobs and better broadband to Swan

Twenty permanent staff will be based at a new NBN distribution hub that is being constructed in Bentley, as the National Broadband Network brings superfast broadband and jobs to the electorate of Swan.

I have today inspected construction at the site, which is being purpose built to support the rollout of Labor’s NBN in Western Australia.

The NBN exchange in Bentley will be ready in September and will support Labor’s NBN fibre network construction in Western Australia, as well as provide NBN training and maintenance.

It is from this state-of-the-art facility that the NBN will deliver the fibre network to more than 44,000 homes and businesses in Perth’s south.

The location of the NBN exchange in Bentley is a boost to the local economy, with twenty permanent staff to be based here.

The facility is another sign that the NBN is delivering jobs and better broadband to the people of Swan.

NBN fibre services have been switched on for over 1,600 homes and businesses in Victoria Park, with more premises in South Perth set to come online in the coming weeks.

NBN fibre construction has commenced for about 64,000 homes and businesses in South Perth, Victoria Park and Applecross, with more NBN construction set to commence from November in the suburbs of Beckenham, Bentley, Cannington, Ferndale, Langford, Lynwood, Queens Park, St James, Welshpool and Wilson.

Labor is building the NBN for all Australians. No matter where you live – in the cities or in regional Australia – you will have access to the NBN.

The NBN is world-class infrastructure that will serve Australia’s broadband needs now and into the future.

For more information about the NBN rollout visit: