Oct 31, 2012

Question Without Notice – Federal Labor’s Nation Building Agenda in the Asian Century: NBN and Moorebank

CHRIS HAYES (Member for Fowler) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport representing the Minister for Broadband.  Will the minister explain how our infrastructure investments including the national broadband network are helping to position Australia for the Asian Century?

ANTHONY ALBANESE I thank very much the Member for Fowler for his question and note that members of his local community will soon see the roll out of the NBN in parts of Liverpool, Ashcroft and Mount Prichard.

We do indeed have an ambitious plan for the future which positions our nation for the Asian Century to take advantage of the opportunities that are there and to make sure they are spread throughout the community.  That is what we are doing and part of that has to be investing in modern nation-building infrastructure, including the NBN.

The NBN is critical infrastructure to embrace the opportunities that are there for the Asian Century.  We have in Australia suffered from the tyranny of distance between ourselves on such a vast island continent and our distance from the rest of the world.  The NBN will bring us that much closer and overcome those distances so that location becomes unimportant.  That is why we, like our counterparts in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, are investing in super-fast broadband.  This will be a major boost, giving all Australian companies better access to Asian markets, unlocking opportunities for greater regional collaboration and innovation, as well as opening up new educational opportunities for our schools, our TAFEs and our universities.  It will also provide access to the best available resources from across the nation and the world.

With the right plan we can maximise the benefits from the new Asian middle-class by creating high-paying, highly skilled jobs for Australians.  Our ambitious infrastructure agenda is a key part of this plan.

In addition to the NBN, we are investing $36 billion through our Nation Building Program in critical road, rail, port and intermodal infrastructure so that we can get our goods to markets and so that we can engage in trade in the region: the full duplication of the Hume Highway, which will be completed over the coming months; the rebuilding of one third of the interstate rail freight network; and the building of the Moorebank intermodal terminal in south-west Sydney, which will create 1,700 jobs.

The facility will provide real employment opportunities for South West Sydney as well as make a big difference to the functioning of Port Botany and to our efficient nation-building infrastructure because it is on the Interstate Rail Freight Network.

We have this plan.  Those opposite are showing today, yet again, that all they have is relentless negativity.


CHRIS HAYES (Member for Fowler) – Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question.  Minister, you mentioned the Moorebank intermodal terminal.  Can you explain why this infrastructure is so important and how is it being received?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Fowler for his question and for his support for jobs in south-west Sydney.  There are some who do not support them but the Member for Fowler certainly does.  The 40 companies that attended the market soundings for the Moorebank intermodal project certainly support it as well.

The Leader of the Opposition earlier this year had this to say:

“The government has recently committed to build a government-owned and run inter-modal freight hub at Moorebank in Sydney even though this will cost more and take longer to build than the private sector alternative planned, literally, for the other side of the street.”

Again, it’s an example of him not knowing the details and not bothering to get proper advice.  This is what Tony Shepherd from the Business Council of Australia had to say about the proposal in a letter I received this week:

“Jennifer Westacott and I have had the benefit of a full briefing on this project.   I have had a number of follow-up discussions with the department.

“The Business Council supports the Commonwealth’s strategy on this important piece of economic strategy.  It is the most cost-effective and practical strategy and should produce a better outcome for the federal taxpayer and for NSW.  The formation of a GBE to optimise private sector funding…”

What would the Business Council know about it?  They actually got the briefings and looked at it.  It is supported by the Business Council.  I table the letter from the Business Council.