May 11, 2011

Questions without notice- 2011-12 Federal Budget & the Pacific Highway

Ms SAFFIN (Member of Page) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Minister, how will the budget help drive reform and investment in the area of transport infrastructure and particularly for the Pacific Highway?

Mr ALBANESE – I thank the member for Page for her question and her ongoing commitment to infrastructure on the Pacific Highway. Like the member for Richmond and the member for Lyne, she has campaigned long and hard to make sure that we deal with this most vital of roads that has been identified by Infrastructure Australia as an absolute priority.

Last night’s budget provided additional funding of $1.02 billion for the Pacific Highway, bringing the federal government contribution to $4.1 billion over seven years. That compares with our predecessors who contributed $1.3 billion over 12 years of neglect. Indeed, if the former government had contributed at the same time rate as this Labor government, the Pacific Highway would now be fully duplicated, finished, done and dusted.

You would expect, as the member for Lyne and the member for Richmond and the member for Page and others have welcomed this announcement, that across the board this would get support. But, of course, we have an opposition that cannot read the budget papers and simply does not understand infrastructure. The member for Cowper has actually been out there saying that this is just a reallocation of funds, that there is nothing new there. The budget papers make it clear that of the $1.02 billion $270 million is a reallocation agreed between the government and the O’Farrell government and $750 million of that is absolutely new money. It is adding up to an additional 1.02 billion, and the clown over there, the shadow minister, just says, “Oh, it’s not. Forget about what the budget papers say”.

It is now since 2009 that I had a question on infrastructure from the shadow minister opposite. So you have the local member for Cowper and when he goes and has a look at the work taking place—today more than a thousand workers are in place working from Woolgoolga to Sapphire—and what is happening on the Kempsey bypass, well, maybe it’s a mirage! Well, I tell you what: the incoming NSW Government have built a viewing platform at the Kempsey bypass so they can look at our dollars at work, so they can look at our jobs taking place.

The Shadow Treasurer has gone further. The Shadow Treasurer has said that this is just for planning and he cannot understand why it is just for planning. It is not. What it will do is enable construction to be brought forward including on the Frederickton to Eungai section, which is where the Clybucca bus crash happened all those decades ago. Two decades ago it happened, but it has taken this government to provide the funds. We provided $58 million for planning in 2009. Now we have provided an extra billion dollars to make sure that construction can be brought forward.

This is a government that believes in nation building. This is a government that is delivering.