Feb 5, 2013

Question Without Notice – Nation Building

Rollout of Federal Labor’s Nation Building Program; Midland Highway; Coffs Harbour Bypass

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Canberra [Gai Brodtmann] for her question.

This morning I was with the Member for Canberra, the Member for Fraser [Andrew Leigh] and the Member for Eden-Monaro [Mike Kelly] at the beginning of construction of the Majura Parkway, which is the largest ever road project in the ACT.  Recommended by Infrastructure Australia it will deliver benefits for the ACT economy of a billion dollars.  It is part of the rollout of the Nation Building Program.

Just in the last couple of weeks we have been getting on with the business of governing and opening the Southern Sydney Freight Line to traffic.  For 100 years it has been blocked and we have had to stop – indeed there has been a curfew – at Sydney regarding the freight line to the port.   That’s now fixed as a result of our investment.

We have confirmed that the widening of the Great Eastern Highway in Perth will be completed six months ahead of schedule.

We have awarded the contract to build the Gosford passing loops as part of the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade.

Last Friday I was with the Member for Perth [Stephen Smith] at the WA Gateway project.  It is a billion dollar project and the biggest road project ever in WA.

We have put funding towards the planning in the Prime Minister’s electorate of the western interstate freight terminal that has the potential to take 700,000 trucks off the streets of Melbourne.

We have opened the new heavy vehicle regulator office in Brisbane.  We have opened the new rail safety regulator office in Adelaide.  These national transport regulators will deliver a $30 billion benefit to the national economy over 20 years.

We have gone to the electorate of the Member for Gellibrand [Nicola Roxon] to look at the Regional Rail Link – the bridge over the Maribyrnong River and the work that is taking place there – which is the largest ever investment by any Federal government in any public transport project in Australia’s history.

We have been getting on with the job of identifying the big infrastructure projects that are required to build productivity, support jobs, deal with issues such as urban congestion and we are making sure that they are properly funded with proper time lines so that they can keep our economy strong into the future.

The Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] went along to Tasmania last week promising $400 million, a repeat of his promise in 2010, for the Midland Highway.  He could not even name the highway correctly, but it would be a $3 billion project.  The Opposition Leader also said that the funds had come from the AusLink program, a program which has not existed for five years.

So, $400 million for a $3 billion project from a funding program that simply does not exist.

But, then again, he went to the Member for Cowper’s [Luke Hartsuyker] electorate and said he was going to fund the Coffs Harbour bypass, and the Member for Cowper had to ring up the local media and say, “Only joking; he didn’t really mean it,” because it is not part of their program.

What we have here is fully funded, properly time lined infrastructure projects on this side of the House; on the other side, a grab bag of vague promises with no time lines and no funding for them.  I can understand why they are so embarrassed about having a real policy debate about Australia’s future.