Jun 1, 2011

Question without notice – Labor’s successful Economic Stimulus Plan

SHANE NEUMANN (Member for Blair) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. How are the government’s infrastructure investments through the economic stimulus package and the flood and cyclone reconstruction leaving a lasting legacy? How have these investments been received by the broader community, and what is the government’s response?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the member for Blair for his question. He is of course very proud of what this government has done, in particular for the Ipswich Motorway in Brisbane. We took the hard decision to invest in infrastructure during the global financial crisis, not only to stimulate the economy and to support jobs in the short term but to leave a lasting legacy in our communities, just like the government is doing right now through our flood and cyclone reconstruction package. Something like two-thirds of the roads that were damaged in Queensland have already been repaired and are open and running—a remarkable performance.

Through the stimulus we funded a number of projects. On Saturday night I was at an important opening—the opening of the Gold Coast stadium. I attended the first home game of the Gold Coast Suns to open and kick off the new stadium. On the way there I passed the construction site for the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system, another of our important infrastructure investments and the first ever Commonwealth investment in a light rail project. Construction is underway and jobs are underway on the Gold Coast.

Back in May 2009 we announced an allocation of $36 million for the stadium, the single largest allocation for a community infrastructure project. Just two years later it is built, opened on time and on budget. It was a sell-out game, with all 25,000 seats full. Seven thousand fans made the journey from interstate, particularly fans of Geelong. They got on planes, went to the Gold Coast and created jobs in tourism, jobs in the hotels, jobs in the restaurants and jobs at the venue—all tourism dollars going into the local economy.

I am amazed that they seem to be opposed to job creation in our economy—but we know they are always opposed to everything.

There were a few people there who were supportive on Saturday night. The Queensland Premier was there; the Gold Coast City Council mayor was there; even the local member was there—the member for Moncrieff—showing his support for the project. He did not bring his vuvuzela, so the crowd did not have that annoying noise. The member for Warringah has the opposition’s vuvuzela, where he just says, ‘no, no, no’.

The fans were actually cheering on Saturday night, and so was the member for Moncrieff. Even though he voted against the stadium, he was there. Whether they vote against the stadium or they vote against the reconstruction that is taking place in Queensland, nothing can stop them turning up to a sod-turn or an opening—nothing whatsoever. They are always there for the ribbon cuttings; they are always there to claim credit. Yet when you raise it, when they have an opportunity to vote in this House, they are never there; they are always against it. But give him credit: at least he turned up to vote, which is more than the Leader of the Opposition did on the economic stimulus package, because he missed six votes.

He could not be bothered speaking on the legislation and missed six votes — more than the member for Wentworth has missed in his entire career!

I do know indeed that it is relevant. It is relevant to know who has an interest in economics and job creation, because we know that the Leader of the Opposition has no interest in economics: just ask Peter Costello. We know his answer to everything is to oppose it: just ask Nick Minchin. We know he is a master of the negative: just ask John Hewson.

All opposition and no leader.