Jun 6, 2013

Consideration in Detail – Labor’s Nation Building Program

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (10:02):  The 2013-14 budget not only continues to roll out federal Labor’s Nation Building Program but begins identifying future funding priorities. This budget continues the achievements of the first phase of the program, with the final instalment of $5.7 billion in 2013-14. Already we have doubled the federal roads budget. We have increased investment in rail tenfold. We have committed more to urban public transport since 2007 than all previous governments combined since Federation. In this budget we announced more additional investment in urban public transport than any previous budget since Federation.

The budget announced $24 billion for the next phase of the Nation Building Program, which commences in 2014-15, taking the total program to a record $60 billion. This is the largest capital works program in the nation’s history, and the new projects announced in the budget build on this. In the budget, we provided $715 million towards the construction of the Brisbane Cross River Rail, and $3 billion for the Melbourne Metro. Both of these projects have been identified by Infrastructure Australia as priority projects of national significance that are ready to proceed.

But these mega transport projects are on a scale that also requires private sector contributions, so we are taking a new innovative approach which is structured around an availability payment model to attract private sector investment. We are also determined to engage with the private sector when it comes to urban road infrastructure, particularly in our biggest city of Sydney. That is why we allocated $400 million to finally get the ‘missing link’ between the F3 and M2 to go to market within months. We brought forward $5 million into the current financial year in order to assist with taking that project to market.

Federal Labor’s investment in Australia’s vital infrastructure extends well beyond the limits of our cities. Regional Australians are also big winners of the Nation Building Program, with almost two-thirds of all funding being invested in regional Australia.

The program is funding a number of highway upgrade packages vital to our regions, such as the $4.1 billion 10-year package to upgrade and maintain the Bruce Highway. The budget also announced $500 million for a 10-year capital works program along the Midland Highway in Tasmania and $307 million for the Great Northern Highway in Western Australia.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you would be very pleased with the $317 million allocated for the Warrrego Highway in Queensland. Might I add: more money than National Party ministers ever allocated to the Warrego Highway in Queensland was allocated in this budget. There was $257.5 million provided for the duplication of the Princes Highway West. The budget also provides $2 billion to continue important transport safety and improvement programs, including $1.8 billion over five years for network maintenance, and an additional $100 million over five years for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. In addition, the budget provided $5 million to assist the Australian shipping industry to meet its future workforce training needs as well as almost $10 million for urgent safety upgrades at remote airstrips across Australia.

Federal Labor understands the importance of investing in land transport infrastructure in terms of national productivity and the liveability of our cities. We have the processes right. Now, in this budget, as well as Cross River Rail and the Melbourne Metro, we funded the two managed motorways programs in Melbourne that were identified by Infrastructure Australia. That means that all 15 projects—15 out of 15—that have been identified by Infrastructure Australia have received funding by this government. We have the process right. We have put the dollars in, the investment in, to create jobs and growth, not just now but into the future.