Sep 17, 2012

Question Without Notice – Pacific Highway duplication

JANELLE SAFFIN (PAGE MP): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.  Will the Minister please outline the Government’s commitment to the duplication of the Pacific Highway, and are there any obstacles to achieving full duplication of the highway by 2016?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I thank the Member for Page for her question.  She knows that we have already committed over $4.1 billion to the Pacific Highway, which is more than three times the $1.3 billion that the Howard government committed during their 12 years in office.  In addition, in the recent Budget we put a further $3.56 billion on the table for the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016, based on a matching commitment from the NSW Government.

The 2016 timeline and the 50/50 funding model were established by the Howard Government.

Over the weekend the Federal Coalition gave the State Coalition, their mates in Macquarie Street, the ‘green light’ to abandon the 2016 timeline they established.  They have deferred the full duplication to beyond the current decade.  Indeed, when they were in government, they said the Pacific Highway was a “State road” and they called on the then NSW Labor Government to do more.

The Member for Cowper [Luke Hartsuyker] had this to say:

“It’s a State road.  NSW refused to commit one extra dollar of State Government funding to a road they are responsible for.”

The State Coalition was saying the same thing: “Yes, I will match that money,” said [NSW Roads Minister] Duncan Gay, “and save the lives of people in NSW that have to use this highway.”

On the weekend, the Member for Wide Bay [Warren Truss] made an announcement about how they were going to take the allocated money from the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link that had been pushed back for two years because of the inaction of the Coalition State Government.  They said that that would enable them to fully duplicate the Highway and meet the target of 2016.  There is only $67.9 million available for the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link between now and 2016.  So they have pushed its completion beyond 2020, and in spite of that, they are still half a billion dollars short because of the failure of the State Government to honour the commitment they made in the 2011 election campaign.

Right now, there are over 1,800 people working up and down the Pacific Highway.  Our Economic Stimulus Plan put money into funding projects such as the Kempsey Bypass, 100 per cent funded by the Commonwealth, to make sure we could achieve full duplication as soon as possible.

Those opposite have given a ‘green light’ for the NSW Government to abandon their commitment to this highway and at the same time they have walked away from the provision of infrastructure for public transport.

Supplementary question…

JANELLE SAFFIN (PAGE MP): Minister, you raised the Parramatta to Epping rail link in your answer.  Can you please outline why it is important for the Government to also invest in public transport in our cities?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I thank the Member for her question.  We already know that the promise to fix the Pacific Highway is in tatters.  What we have also seen both with the announcement on Saturday and the train wreck of an interview yesterday morning on Australian Agenda is the Coalition maintaining their position of opposing funding for urban public transport in Australia.  In their twelve years in Government they did not contribute a cent to any public transport project in the nation.

In Sydney they only committed a total of $300 million to fund a portion of the M7 toll road in their entire twelve years in office.

We on this side of the House believe in urban public transport.  The Noarlunga to Seaford line, in which the bridge was completed last week and the Member for Kingston [Amanda Rishworth] was there to celebrate; the Regional Rail Link in Victoria; the Moreton Bay Rail Link; the Gold Coast Light Rail; the Perth City Rail Link; Melbourne Metro 1, Brisbane Inner-city Rail study and the Perth Light Rail study – all of which are important projects.  We have committed more to urban public transport since 2007 than all Federal governments combined in the previous 107 years – all Federal governments combined versus this Federal Labor government since 2007.

We understand you have got to look after people in our regions and our cities.