Mar 22, 2012

Question without notice – Transport reforms

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (14:29): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister update the House on how the government is getting the job done when it comes to long-term reforms in transport and delivering record investment in infrastructure? How has the government overcome considerable challenges to do this?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:29):  I thank the member for Fremantle for her question. Indeed it is the case that, at the start of this parliamentary session, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition said that they wanted to engage in an economic debate. There is nothing more important in an economic debate than nation-building infrastructure. What we have done on the side of the chamber is engage in nation building on behalf of the Australian people in the long-term interests of our economy. We have the rolling out of a $37 billion capital works program, the doubling of the roads budget, an increase in rail investment by tenfold—the work we are doing to commit more money to urban public transport since 2007 than all governments combined, from Federation right through to 2007.

Just last week I convened the first meeting of the Urban Policy Forum, getting together about the implementation of how we build better cities, how we build productivity and how we improve liveability and sustainability in our cities. Of course, we did not have a very high bar in terms of urban public transport, given that not one cent was spent on urban public transport by the former federal government. What we have been doing is running around the country opening projects like the Ballina Bypass, the upgrades of the Hume Highway, the Pacific Highway, Port Botany rail, the Western Ring Road and the Calder Freeway.

Those works have been taking place. We have also been getting the big policy decisions done through this chamber. The safe rates legislation went through, which will deliver safety for truckies and will have an impact not just on truckies but on all who share the roads with our truck drivers. That was important legislation. The legislation supporting the Regional Infrastructure Fund has gone through, providing infrastructure important to those communities under pressure due to the mining boom and, this morning, we had the important delivery of our legislation to revitalise Australian shipping. We make no apologies for wanting to see the Australian flag on the backs of our ships, of replacing ships of shame with the Australian flag in the interests of our national economy, in the interests of our environment and in the interests of our national security. When we came to office, we were ranked 20th out of 25 OECD countries when it came to investing in public infrastructure as a proportion of national income. We have made a difference. We will continue to engage in this economic debate while those opposite in the ‘no-alition’ just say no, no, no to all of these reforms.