Feb 6, 2017

Coalition must get out of the propaganda business on infrastructure

Malcolm Turnbull should use this week’s beginning of the 2017 Parliamentary year to apologise to Australians for serially misleading them over investment in new railways, roads and other infrastructure.

Late last year the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development told a Senate committee the Coalition Federal Government’s entire infrastructure program was worth $34 billion between 2014-15 and 2018-19, with $8 billion allocated to “onwards’’ or an unspecified future.

The figures demolished Mr Turnbull’s ongoing fantasy that the Coalition is investing $50 billion in infrastructure in its first six years in office.

Because of the decline in the investment stage of the mining boom, it is critical that Australia lifts infrastructure investment to support economic growth and lift future capacity.

However, the Turnbull Government has been cutting investment, particularly public transport investment, and has now been caught out repeatedly trying to pretend otherwise, including in Parliament.

Indeed, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last month show work conducted for the public sector has been lower in each of the 12 quarters presided over by the Abbott-Turnbull governments than in any of the 21 quarters under the Rudd-Gillard governments after the first Labor Budget in 2008.

Mr Turnbull needs to get out of the propaganda business and start investing in the railways and roads that will support jobs in the short term while delivering longer term productivity gains that will underpin future prosperity.