Mr TREVOR (3:54 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. Why is funding certainty and consistency in long-term planning important in delivering major road and rail infrastructure projects and are there any risks to these investments, particularly in Central Queensland?
Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for his question, because he understands that long-term planning and consistency is absolutely crucial when it comes to delivering infrastructure into regional Australia. But, of course, we know that consistency is not the coalition’s forte. They say one thing here in the parliament and something completely different in their electorates. Just one week after the budget, on 20 May, the member for Hinkler wrote a letter to the editor of the Isis Town & Country newspaper. He said this:
Labor has betrayed local motorists by ignoring the urgently needed Isis River Bridge upgrade in its Budget.
Wrong! The May budget delivered another $15 million to start the construction on this important bridge this year, money brought forward this year, jobs in Hinkler this year—something that could not be achieved by that other mob in their 12 years of government. The member for Hinkler also said—
An opposition member—At least you put the people of Hinkler on notice.
Mr ALBANESE —This is after we provided the funding, you nong—a week after the budget.
The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will withdraw.
Mr ALBANESE —I withdraw. In the Isis Town & Country newspaper he also said:
I have put the Government on notice—
this is one week after we provided the funds—
that I expect to see funds brought forward to have the job done …
I will be in Hinkler tomorrow and I put the opposition on notice: is this project on your secret infrastructure hit list? The shadow minister for finance, in a letter to another local paper, said ‘There are still many projects worth billions of dollars in the Rudd government budget which have not started’ and he would not commit to supporting any of those projects that are in the Nation Building Program. He has made it very clear, and he confirms it today, that if construction has not started it will be on the hit list. Maybe the $250 million Bruce Highway safety package will be on the hit list.
We know that the Roads to Recovery program for every local government in Australia is on the hit list, because he has told the Colac Herald and the Geelong Advertiser. So Bundaberg Regional Council, $7 million gone; Fraser Coast Regional Council, $6 million gone; North Burnett Regional Council, $7 million gone—and we know that there will be other critical infrastructure cut in Hinkler as well; 841 computers in schools, gone; and over $112 million for 58 schools, gone. We know that over $70 million of the 283 new social housing dwellings will be gone and we know that the trade training centre which is proposed to be built at Bundaberg State High School at a cost of $11 million will be gone. You have got to come clean and be fair dinkum with the Australian people. You cannot tell the electorate that you are fighting for more money for them and come here and be part of a show that is about making all these cuts.
The member for Maranoa raised a question earlier on today and it went to the issue of infrastructure and employment in Queensland. The member for Maranoa is quoted in the Toowoomba Chronicle. He wants another $500 million in funding for the Warrego highway. He said:
On advice given to me by Main Roads Queensland, $500 million is needed for a full upgrade and I am calling on the Rudd government to commit this funding as a contribution to the state Government’s infrastructure plan for Surat Coal Basin.
He goes on to say: ‘With critical time lines now in place for local road, rail, airport and housing infrastructure, the Rudd Government’ must deliver this. He has given up on his side! He has given up. I say to the member for Maranoa: part of our RSPT proposals is about providing a fund for infrastructure in regional areas. That is what it is about. So you should be voting for it, and I look forward to the member for Maranoa’s support on the RSPT.
Mr Rudd —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.