Nov 24, 2010

Question without notice – Transport infrastructure

Mr SYMON (3:11 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. How is the Gillard Labor government delivering record investment in essential nation-building infrastructure and progressing reform in this important area?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) —I thank the member for his question and for his ongoing interest, including in the Springvale project in his electorate, which has now been completed. We are delivering $37 billion over six years in transport infrastructure—that is, double what the previous government spent in this area. Over $21 billion of this investment is going into regional Australia. We have made a tenfold increase in annual spending on rail. We have delivered a national standard gauge rail network under one track manager from Perth to Brisbane. It took 110 years but we got there directly as a result of the input through the economic stimulus plan. We are delivering 10 new urban passenger rail projects worth some $7.3 billion—that is, 10 more projects than those opposite delivered in their time in office because they did not spend one cent on urban passenger rail.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member for Herbert is warned!

Mr ALBANESE —We have more than doubled the federal roads budget to $27.7 billion over six years. We have also been engaged in reform, not just in investment. We established Infrastructure Australia to overhaul the way we plan, finance, build and use major infrastructure. We have commissioned the first national freight and national port strategies. We have delivered national laws, slashing regulators from the 24 which exist across the transport sector at the moment down to just three—single national regulators in maritime, in rail and in heavy vehicles. We have implemented new, fairer, heavy vehicle road user charges in consultation with industry and we have delivered them. The Infrastructure Working Group last week signed off on our program of completion of microeconomic reform. We have delivered strong, national PPPP guidelines. We have delivered streamlined approval processes for major projects. We have delivered best practice on project delivery. On 1 January 2011 we will deliver for the first time a national prequalification system which is about increasing competition in the sector so that drives down prices to governments and at the end of the day to consumers.

We have delivered alliance contracting reforms. The draft is currently out there. Consultation with industry will be delivered in 2011. And we have ended the exile from urban policy that occurred under the previous government. We will have strategic plans for all capital cities in place by 1 January 2012 as a condition of Commonwealth funding. So we have delivered record investment, we are delivering micro-economic reform to make sure that the productivity benefits flow through to the nation and, on top of that, we are delivering the single largest infrastructure investment, and the most important, in the National Broadband Network.