Feb 9, 2012

Question without notice – Labor’s record road funding and the Bruce Highway

KIRSTEN LIVERMORE (Federal Member for Capricornia) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister update the House on the government’s investment in our nation’s highways?  How are the government’s record infrastructure investments building the economy of the future?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Capricornia for her genuine interest, particularly in the Bruce Highway and the roads of Central Queensland.  Indeed, her electorate has benefited from the doubling of the roads budget that has been undertaken by this government – up to some $28 billion – and, indeed, our much greater investment is delivering results.

Andrew McKellar of the Australian Automobile Association backed it in, describing it as “good news” that there are now – in the report recently released – fewer high risk roads than five years ago.

The Bruce Highway has been a major beneficiary.

We have invested in the Bruce Highway and you do not have to believe those on this side of the House.  This is what the Member for Herbert [Ewen Jones] had to say:

“I will give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.”

And he is right.  More in four years than they did in 12, even though the Leader of the National Party [Warren Truss] was the Minister for Transport and Regional Services at the time: $1.2 billion over 12 years.

You know the neglect, Mr Speaker, because you are one of the people who has made representations to me about this.  If only they had a plan.  They run around and speak about specific projects but they say sometimes that they have a plan.

The Member for Dawson [George Christensen] said they had a plan.  He has a website and it had on it ‘Fix the Bruce’.  It went up in June last year – the date on the website: 28 June 2011 – and it said “Coming soon”.  Blank page – a blank page for their plan (see below).

I clicked on it again before Question Time.  Guess what?  It is still “Coming soon”.  Not a word; still coming soon; still blank, because they do not really have a plan.  If you are going to have a responsible plan in infrastructure, you also have to have a plan to return the budget to surplus.

Indeed, Mr Speaker.  To have a plan to build roads you have to have a responsible fiscal position.  You have to get the budget back to surplus.  We have done it.  The Leader of the ‘Noalition’ [Tony Abbott] says no to a budget surplus.  Senator Abetz in a doorstop this morning has called it “an extravagant promise”.

More and more, when you ask them what they are going to do about infrastructure and roads they no longer make promises.  They are now just “aspirations”.  You cannot drive on an aspiration.  You cannot catch a train on an aspiration and you cannot have a port that is just an aspiration.

You need to have real plans, properly funded.  We have them, you have not.