Dec 5, 2008

Coalition splits three ways on infrastructure bill

Coalition splits three ways on infrastructure bill


The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 5 2008

The disarray last night amongst Liberal and National senators on the Government’s ‘nation building’ legislation was yet further evidence that they can’t even agree amongst themselves on how to respond to the greatest economic challenge in generations: the global financial crisis.

The Opposition’s talk of bipartisanship at this difficult time for the global and Australian economies has again been exposed as nothing more than a hollow, political gesture.

Last night, when the nation building legislation came up for vote we witnessed the Nationals going in one direction and the Liberals split into two or abstain from voting.

This behaviour showed that they are still divided on whether there should be greater public investment in infrastructure – a key element to the Government’s response to the global financial crisis.

For the 12 years they were in Government, they neglected the nation’s infrastructure. Their position was that the market would deliver by itself and that public investment in infrastructure was just a cost.

The latest split in the Coalition confirms that there are still many infrastructure sceptics within their ranks.

Despite the disarray within Coalition ranks, the Senate passed landmark legislation to facilitate the investment of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects.

The establishment of these nation building funds – initially worth some $26 billion – will help to drive economic growth, create jobs and shield the Australian economy from the global downturn.

To ensure these crucial funds are invested in the nation’s interest, the legislation establishes a rigorous and transparent process for assessing projects, the likes of which has never been seen in Australia.