Jul 7, 2010

Nationals not interested in better regional infrastructure

Nationals not interested in better regional infrastructure

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

July 7 2010

Warren Truss has confirmed the Nationals would deny regional communities an extra $6 billion in infrastructure funding, exposing as a shameful con their pledge to make sure “regional Australia receives its fair share”.

Last week the Gillard Labor Government negotiated a historic agreement which will return to the community a fairer share of the wealth created by the resources they own, with a proportion of the new Minerals Resource Rent Tax earmarked for a Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Yet the Nationals, the self proclaimed defenders of regional Australia, continue to side with Tony Abbott’s Liberals and billionaires like Clive Palmer in opposing this reform, and along with it the new road, rail, port and community infrastructure it will build in regional and mining communities.

But the efforts of the Nationals to deny regional communities better infrastructure doesn’t stop there.

They also want to junk the National Broadband Network (NBN), the 21st century infrastructure which will deliver better education and health services to those living outside our cities. What’s more, it means businesses can relocate to regional communities and still be just as connected to their local and international customers.

Mr Truss’s claim that the NBN is “fatally flawed” simply confirms the Nationals are a bunch of dinosaurs more suited to the era of the telegraph than the digital age.

In an increasingly globalised world, high speed broadband to the nation’s homes and workplaces is infrastructure Australia cannot afford not to build – and regional communities should be wary of any politician that wants to take it away from them.

As well as beginning the roll out of the NBN, this Labor Government has in less than three years more than doubled spending on Australia’s regional highways and country roads.

The choice at the coming election is clear: an extra $6 billion for regional infrastructure under the Gillard Labor Government or no new money for regional communities and the shelving of nation building projects like the NBN under Tony Abbott and his sidekick Warren Truss.