Sep 18, 2017

Labor welcomes Pacific Highway progress

Labor welcomes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s opening of part of the Oxley Highway to Kundabung stage of Pacific Highway Duplication, which was funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

The opening of the section follows the completion of the Frederickton to Eungai and Nambucca Heads to Urunga sections of the duplication, all of which were also funded by the former Federal Labor Government.

While further progress is welcome, Mr Turnbull must explain why he cut investment in the Pacific Highway Duplication project by more than $600 million this year.

Budget documents show that the Commonwealth invested $1.37 billion on the Pacific Highway in the year to June 30. But spending will plummet to $710 million this financial year, raising doubts about whether the duplication will be completed all the way to the Queensland border, as promised, by 2020.

I also note the while the Government media release on today’s opening seeks credit for the project, it previously criticised the Commonwealth’s 50-50 funding agreement with the NSW Government, put in place by the former Federal Labor Government to accelerate the duplication.

While the Prime Minister seeks credit for his work, the reality is that he has hit the brakes on the Pacific Highway duplication.

The gap between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality is reflected across its infrastructure program, with independent Parliamentary Budget Office analysis revealing that over the next decade, investment in transport infrastructure expressed as a proportion of GDP will halve to 0.2 per cent.

By contrast, the former Labor Government delivered record infrastructure investment, lifting per capita investment from $135 per Australian to $265 per Australian over our six years in office.

That included $7.9 billion on the Pacific Highway over six years – six times the amount provided by the former Howard Government in half the time.

When it comes to Labor’s commitment to infrastructure, we stand on our record.