Jun 5, 2013

Consideration in Detail – Infrastructure

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (18:09):  I thank the members for their contributions. Firstly, to the member for Wentworth who mentioned Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure Australia was established very proudly by this government. When they produced their first report to COAG in May 2009, they identified progress moving forward of what would be required to truly develop economic productivity through nation-building infrastructure. Table 2 identifies infrastructure priorities under seven themes. Theme 1 is a National Broadband Network.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE:  they then went on to speak about developing a more extensive, accessible and globally competitive broadband system. ‘Infrastructure Australia supports an investment from the Building Australia Fund to develop the National Broadband Network.’ This mob opposite have gone around and promised funding for infrastructure projects on the back of an envelope before there is any analysis whatsoever—

Mr Turnbull:  As opposed to the back of a beer coaster.

Mr ALBANESE:  As opposed to the Infrastructure Australia system whereby 15 out of 15 projects have been funded, including four projects in the last budget that we are dealing with in these appropriations for additional projects—two of which, the Melbourne metro project and the cross river rail project, in spite of Infrastructure Australia’s recommendations and support, and in spite of the fact that negotiations had concluded with both the respective state governments. Under pressure from the federal opposition, they have walked away from this. In Brisbane we know, as a result of the state government failing to support its own proposal for the cross river rail project, they are now proposing that they will rip out the seats from the trains so people will have to stand up on the trains. That is the alternative infrastructure vision of those opposite.

I am asked by the member for Greenway about a range of issues with regard to the digital divide. The great advantage of the NBN is overcoming regional disadvantage and disadvantage between people who live in different parts of our capital cities. What the NBN has done in places like Blacktown, where it has been rolled out in the electorates of Greenway and Chifley, is provide economic opportunity. If those opposite have their way, as has been identified, some people in the community will have the NBN and some people will not. They will have a second-rate system. That is of enormous regret.

What is extraordinary is the National Party rolling over on the issue of wholesale pricing equivalent—a principle which says that whether you live in Burnie, Ballarat, Marrickville or Vaucluse, you pay the same amount which is something that is absolutely essential to equity in the system. Those opposite have not done that. I note that it was a National Party member who came up with ‘fraudband’. I say very clearly that the shadow minister for ‘fraudband’ and the copper economy should be embarrassed by his party’s position, because to have fibre to some and copper to others after it goes through what the member for Wentworth says is a bar fridge on the corner of particular streets is just extraordinary. He acknowledges it is essentially a fridge-like large structure which will appear all over the suburbs. Every single one of those fridges will be a symbol of the backward nature of those who want to keep us in the copper age rather than the fibre age.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.