Oct 19, 2009

Question – Nation Building and Jobs Plan

Question without notice – Nation Building and Jobs Plan

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

19 October 2009

Ms RISHWORTH (2:44 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. As part of the government’s nation building for recovery strategy, how are major infrastructure projects in South Australia progressing and how is this investment being received?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Kingston for her question. Indeed, I was in South Australia just last week with the Prime Minister and with Premier Mike Rann unveiling the design concept for the new South Road Superway. The federal government is investing some half a billion dollars in the upgrade of the South Road, with the state government contributing $430 million.

This road will be the backbone of a dedicated north-south transport corridor for Adelaide. The superway will connect from the Port River Expressway to Regency Road and will reduce travel times by up to seven minutes. Importantly, this project is expected to support some 2,750 jobs during construction. It is exactly what this government’s infrastructure plans are all about: supporting jobs today by building the infrastructure that we need for tomorrow. Construction on local roads will commence in March 2010.

The member for Kingston, who asked this question, will be particularly pleased to learn that work is progressing very swiftly on the Seaford rail extension. Expressions of interest from construction companies interested in building this $291 million rail extension were called for today. Whether it is road or rail, both of them providing assistance in terms of input to the port, we are moving forward in South Australia. Indeed, this project in the member for Kingston’s electorate will help to generate up to 400 jobs during construction. While we are getting on with the job of building infrastructure in South Australia, in conjunction with the South Australian government, those opposite disparage these projects, are opposed to these jobs being created and are opposed to this infrastructure being built. That is consistent with what they have been saying on the record. During the break, in an article headed ‘Time to rethink infrastructure cash splash,’ Senator Coonan, the shadow minister for finance, is reported as saying:

… the government should start by looking at the $8.5 billion earmarked in this year’s budget for a series of road, rail and ports projects.

There they are, on the record, saying that the infrastructure agenda of the government should be wound back. That is consistent, of course, because the Leader of the Opposition also visited Adelaide, back in May, and he had this to say about the infrastructure projects funded in the budget:

…everything will have to be reviewed. There’s no question about that.

What I say to the opposition is that they need to come clean with the voters of Kingston, the voters of Port Adelaide, the voters of Adelaide, the voters of Hindmarsh, the voters of Sturt and the voters in the other seats in Adelaide about which projects they will cancel. They need to be clear: is it the Gawler rail electrification; is it the Noarlunga to Seaford rail extension? Which projects will they cancel? It is quite clear that they have learnt nothing from their 12 years of neglect of infrastructure. They opposed infrastructure investment when they were in government; they continue to oppose it from opposition.