May 21, 2018

Hansard – Private Members’ Business – Infrastructure – Monday, 21 May 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:16): I agree with the first part of the motion, which recognises the importance of infrastructure to the future prosperity of our nation, but, because of this government’s record, I move:

Delete all words after point (1) and substitute:

(2) condemns the Government for cutting infrastructure investment from $8 billion in 2017-18 to $4.5 billion in 2021-22;

(3) notes research from the Parliamentary Budget Office which has found Commonwealth investment will fall from 0.4 to 0.2 per cent of GDP over the next decade;

(4) condemns the Government for its incompetence in underspending by $4.7 billion on its own infrastructure investment commitments in its first four budgets;

(5) notes that off budget financing of public transport projects is misleading; and

(6) condemns the Government for failing to deliver investment to construct the Melbourne airport rail line, Western Sydney rail or Brisbane cross-river rail project.

The fact is that this budget is a con when it comes to infrastructure investment. If you look at the forward estimates for this year’s budget compared with last year’s, there is $2 billion less in this year’s forward estimates than there was last year—a $2 billion cut. If that’s too difficult for people opposite to comprehend, this year, in 2017-18, the infrastructure investment is $8 billion, and it falls to $4.5 billion; it is there in the budget papers for all to see.

There is no new money in this budget. What there is is an allocation of money that has already been included in previous budgets for specific projects. But that funding is all off into the never-never. When you look at projects like Monash, for example, which was mentioned by a previous speaker, there was $475 million. How much is it over the next four years? It is $20-something million of that. It is all off into the never, never. You had a $5 billion announcement about Melbourne Airport rail line. If you look for money for construction in the budget, there is not a dollar. There is not a dollar for construction. It is just a con—the idea that somehow it can be done for free, that somehow public transport projects in our cities make money. It is not real. You would know, Mr Deputy Speaker Howarth, that the Redcliffe rail line was built as a result of real dollars put into budgets by federal Labor, state Labor and Moreton Bay Regional Council. That’s how you build real infrastructure—with real dollars that create real jobs that can get built. That’s why, when you look at Western Sydney rail, as well—another big announcement made by the Commonwealth government but with no actual dollars for construction in the budget—not one. $50 million for a study—that is all there is there. And yet this is a rail line that is meant to be opened at the same time as the second Sydney Airport.

Once again in the budget, you see some funding, in the never-never, for Sunshine Coast rail upgrades. But you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in order to have that, you need to have the Cross River Rail project. You can’t expand rail on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast or Brisbane without fixing up the capacity constraints from having just one crossing across the Brisbane River.

When you look at what this government has done across the board, it is to substitute reality for just spin and rhetoric. Over the coalition’s first four budgets, if you look at what it said it would spend on budget night in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and go back and look at what was actually invested, the underspend is $4.7 billion—a $4.7 billion underspend on road projects, rail projects, black spots program, Heavy Vehicle Safety Program. On all of those programs there were massive underspends, which then disappears off to Finance and Treasury. This is a government that doesn’t have a plan for long-term infrastructure investment, that hasn’t produced a pipeline of projects, that has gutted Infrastructure Australia and, therefore, will damage Australia’s future economic growth and prosperity.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Howarth ): Is the amendment seconded?

Ms Bird: I second the amendment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is that the amendment be agreed to.