Apr 3, 2019

Matters of Public Importance – Budget – Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (15:49): Well, you’ve got to give the member for Corangamite credit for bravery, in being prepared to defend a government that last year delivered 7.7 per cent of the national infrastructure budget to Victoria—7.7 per cent to Australia’s fastest-growing state and home to one in four Australians. Australia’s fastest-growing city, in Melbourne, has been completely dudded. And Geelong, of course, has been dudded.

It took the Labor Party to build Regional Rail Link. The member for Corangamite used to try and take credit for it. But they opposed it in the House. They opposed the economic stimulus plan. But they were happy to be there at the ribbon-cutting—just like they were happy to be there at the ribbon-cutting for the Redcliffe rail link and Perth’s City Link and to claim Noarlunga to Seaford. It’s just like Gold Coast Light Rail: they went to demos against it! They weren’t just voting against it; they were campaigning against it. Now they just absolutely love it!

The fact is that this budget is big on rhetoric but bad once again on substance. Firstly, they’ve gone through a whole range of Labor’s policies and adopted them: Adelaide’s South Road; Perth’s Metronet; the Rockhampton and Mackay ring roads; Melbourne’s south-eastern suburban roads package; Western Sydney rail. Imitation is the finest form of flattery, I know, but this has reached absurd proportions.

But it’s even worse because, in some cases, what they’ve done is take projects that were cut by the incoming Abbott government, that were fully funded—like the Gladstone Port Access Road and Tasmanian rail freight revitalisation—and cut them; six years later, they’ve put money back and pretended it’s new! And they want people to say thank you.

When you look at traffic congestion, they’ve got this urban congestion fund. But they believe that there’s only urban congestion in coalition marginal seats! I mean, in South Australia, there are 18 road projects; 17 of them are in coalition seats. There are eight projects in Adelaide; seven of them are in the two electorates they hold in Adelaide, Sturt and Boothby—seven out of the eight. So it would appear that urban congestion only occurs in marginal seats where they’re under threat!

Have a look at it around the board. For the ACT, there’s nothing for the next two years—not a single dollar. For New South Wales, they say, there’s $6.1 billion; have a look at what’s in the forwards—$241 million of that. That’s four per cent—$4 in every $100. For the Northern Territory, they promised extra funding—$622 million. What’s in there? It’s a bit better—nine per cent, or $60 million. For Queensland, it’s $2.6 billion, but not a dollar in 2019-20—$313 million of the $2.6 billion over the next four years. So elect them and whoever the leader is next time around if they get re-elected, then elect them again, and you might get some money flowing. For Tasmania, there’s not a dollar in ’19-20, not a dollar in ’20-21—$68 million over the next four years. Western Australia is pretty good. It’s promised extra funding—$1.6 billion. It sounds good, except when you look at the detail: $17.5 million next financial year; $60 million the following financial years. That’s it.

And Victoria they’ve finally realised exists! But the suburban roads package of course they’ve copied. The suburban rail loop they’ve ignored, though it’s actually critical for Regional Rail Link, linking up the 11 tracks, making an enormous difference through Sunshine, and it’s critical for the Airport Rail Link to work. But when you look at Budget Paper No. 2, and you look for the Geelong to Melbourne fast rail, they say they’ll offer $2 billion for a project they have no idea of the cost of because there’s no business case and no plan; they didn’t talk to the Victorian state government before they announced it. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. This is a fail from a government that doesn’t get that infrastructure requires proper planning and a fair dinkum government.