May 14, 2013

Question without notice – Public transport

Mr GIBBONS (Bendigo) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government. Why has the government invested in public transport? How are these investments improving productivity, sustainability and liveability for all Australians, and what other approaches are there?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (14:43): I thank the member for Bendigo for his question. It is indeed the case that this government has an orderly plan for investment in the nation’s infrastructure. That is why we established Infrastructure Australia to give us advice based upon cost-benefit analysis about projects, regardless of the mode. That is why it is important that we have invested, not just doubling the roads budget, but we have committed more to urban public transport than all governments combined from Federation right through to 2007. That includes, of course, in the honourable member’s electorate, the Regional Rail Link, which will benefit Melbourne, but will also benefit Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong. It is the largest single investment in urban public transport in Australia’s history by any federal government.

We have not just done that. Of course, we have also had the Noarlunga to Seaford extension in Adelaide that will open later this year. We have also had the Gold Coast Rapid Transit line that is going gangbusters on the Gold Coast and will be finished by 2014. We have got the Perth Citylink project, in Perth, sinking the existing rail line through the CBD and uniting the CBD with Northbridge, transforming the city of Perth with federal investment. In Brisbane, to the north, we have the Moreton Bay regional rail link, which is also underway. We also have projects of separating freight from passenger lines that are leading to a better urban public transport system in Sydney: the Southern Sydney Freight Line, which I opened earlier this year, and the Northern Sydney Freight Line, making a big difference, where construction will start at Strathfield in coming months. Also, in Adelaide, we have the Goodwood and Torrens junctions grade separation. In addition to that, we have had money for planning: planning of the Melbourne Metro, planning of the Brisbane Cross River Rail project—important investments—as well as, in Perth, the light rail project. It is important that this occur and it has been received well by those Australians who are stuck in traffic gridlock, who know that we need to invest in urban public transport.

What those opposite have had to say is that we need to stick to their knitting, that we need to abandon any investment in urban public transport whatsoever. It has been ruled out by the Leader of the Opposition—and not just that. He went on Melbourne radio and said the only urban rail project that he can recall that the Commonwealth has substantially funded is the Moreton Link in Brisbane. It was on radio in Melbourne, where 2½ thousand people are at work today on the Regional Rail Link, 2½ thousand jobs ensuring growth into the future—and he was not even aware of it.