May 9, 2012

Question without notice – Investing in Infrastructure

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (14:50):  My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister outline how the government is continuing to deliver record investments in infrastructure for the future while returning the budget to surplus?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:50):  I thank the member for Page. The member for Page is a great supporter of infrastructure in her electorate; in particular, the Pacific Highway, where she got to open the final stage of the Ballina bypass—a great project announced by this government, funded by this government and opened by this government.

Last night the Treasurer delivered a Labor budget that builds on our nation-building agenda, a budget that returns to surplus but not at the expense of investing in our productivity and the infrastructure that we need for the future. Since we came to government we have doubled the roads budget and increased investment in rail tenfold. We have reformed the way that we plan, finance and build infrastructure by establishing Infrastructure Australia, and in last night’s budget we committed funding for the final projects that were on the Infrastructure Priority List produced by Infrastructure Australia after its national audit in 2008.

We have now funded every single project, because last night we provided $232 million for the Goodwood and Torrens Junctions project that will improve the movement of freight and ease traffic congestion in Adelaide. In addition, we confirmed funding for the Majura Parkway in the ACT. This is about delivering on Infrastructure Australia’s agenda.

We also, of course, put into the Nation Building Program an additional $3.56 billion, subject to matching funding from New South Wales, to complete the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016—promised by the Howard government, but they only contributed $1.3 billion over 12 years. This will take our contribution, if New South Wales matches its rhetoric before the election with action in its next budget, to over $7.7 billion. It will improve productivity; more importantly, it will improve road safety.

There has been some comment from New South Wales today about the funding arrangements. I table a press release from Wendy Machin from the NRMA confirming that it was the Howard government that set the fifty-fifty funding split for the Pacific Highway from 2006, and the NRMA has supported this approach since day one. I also table from the Sydney Morning Herald a front-page story of 7 March 2009 headed ‘Rees bungle costs state $50 million’, where, because New South Wales Labor were not delivering on their Pacific Highway promises, I took action against them. This needs to be above politics. The New South Wales government needs—

(Time expired)