Jun 18, 2013

Question Without Notice – Federal Labor’s Nation Building Agenda; Tony Abbott’s ‘Beer Coaster’ Midland Highway Promise

GEOFF LYONS (Bass MP) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Leader of the House.  Will the minister advise the House why it is important for infrastructure projects to be properly assessed, planned and costed, and how does this compare with other proposals for infrastructure?

Mr ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Bass for his question.  Indeed, when it comes to infrastructure funding, on this side of the House we do the analysis, we undertake the proper process and we ensure that we have the business case.  That is why we established Infrastructure Australia, as one of our first pieces of legislation introduced in February 2008.

The Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] last week committed to establish Infrastructure Australia when he said:

“If we are elected we will form an organisation called Infrastructure Australia…”

It is typical of the lack of policy detail of those opposite when it comes to infrastructure.  In a way it would be funny if it was not so serious, if those opposite did not seek to control the treasury bench.

This month I was in Launceston with the Member for Bass to announce funding for a detailed business case for a future bypass, part of our $500 million fully costed commitment to upgrading the Midland Highway.  Making it clear what we can do with that money and what we cannot do with that money.

The Leader of the Opposition has promised $400 million to fully duplicate the Midland Highway.  Unfortunately, it is a $2.7 billion project.  When he was asked about it, they did not have any proper analysis but he said:

“I certainly have been in informal discussions with people…”

That is what he said.  Well, I say to the Leader of the Opposition: give us the mob that can build a $2.7 billion duplication of the Midland Highway for $400 million and we’ll sign the contract straight away.

This was a policy that was done on the back of a coaster somewhere in Tassie, probably after a light beer shandy.  The Leader of the Opposition got out the coaster and wrote out this policy.

Of course he’s got form.  He also said when speaking about the [Melbourne’s] East West Link that he had spoken to Infrastructure Australia, and we know that’s not true.

When he speaks about roads he speaks about “aspirations”.  Now we have apparitions instead of real projects with real money to create real jobs and real roads.