Subjects: Victorian infrastructure funding; Budget 2017
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for joining us. I’m here today with Michael Danby, the Member for Melbourne Ports who along with other Victorians is frustrated and angry that Victoria is not getting its fair share of the federal infrastructure budget. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city and yet Victoria is receiving some 7.7 per cent of federal infrastructure funds despite being home to one in every four Australians. In next Tuesday’s Budget, this has to stop. Projects like the Melbourne Metro, which is vital, behind us are critical along with road projects to deal with urban congestion here in Melbourne.
It’s also vital that we deal with regional Victoria and its interests and the Victorian Government have a plan for Regional Rail which would have a positive impact on those people living in regional Victoria. Victoria is entitled to $1.45 billion of federal funding under the government’s own asset recycling plan. And yet, the Turnbull Government is holding back on that money. That means fewer jobs. Less economic activity and more congestion for Victorians. Victoria deserves its fair share in the Budget and that means a massive injection is required into Victorian infrastructure in next Tuesday night’s Budget.
MICHAEL DANBY, MEMBER FOR MELBOURNE PORTS: Thanks Anthony. We’re standing here on the main interchange train and tram stop that will be built by the Victorian Andrews Government. Public transport has never been more needed in Victoria with 37 per cent of new immigrants coming to Victoria and to Melbourne. The decision over the last years of the Abbott and Turnbull Governments to deprive Victoria of transport infrastructure is really starting to bite. It’s very good that the Andrews Government has been able to build all of these level crossings and free up roads and rail from the sale of the Victorian ports, the asset recycling, but we need more support from the federal government.
The fact that we’ve got so many people in this city and coming into this city means that we need at least our fair share of transport infrastructure. It’s not good enough, just as Bill Shorten says having seven per cent of transport infrastructure coming to Victoria from the federal government when we have 25 per cent of the population. Melbourne is growing all the time. As Anthony’s said when he’s been down here a number of times, this is not just the first time we’ve been here. We’ve been here again and again and again to emphasise to Victorians that we need a fair share of federal transport infrastructure.
REPORTER: Your advertising campaign, how’s that been received, have you got any response at all?
DANBY: You can see the reaction is it that both federal and state Liberals are retreating under the pressure. Matthew Guy, the state opposition leader conceded in the Herald Sun yesterday that Victoria is not getting its fair share of federal transport infrastructure. That’s extraordinary, for a Victorian Liberal leader to criticise his federal leader a few days before the Budget. In today’s Sydney Morning Herald there’s an extraordinary article where it says Malcolm doesn’t understand marvellous Melbourne and has some anonymous Liberal federal member criticising him because he thinks that Malcolm thinks the tram network goes out to Corangamite.
ALBANESE: Malcolm Turnbull does visit Melbourne. When he visits, he takes selfies on trains and on trams. What Victorians want is for him to fund trains and trams, not take selfies on them. The fact is that Malcolm Turnbull shows how out of touch he is. He’s out of touch with his own federal members. He’s out of touch with his own state party. He’s out of touch with the previous record of what Federal Labor did. The Regional Rail Link. The support for the M80 road project. The Managed Motorways program. The work around Geelong including the Geelong Ring Road. The roads up to Ballarat and to Bendigo that were improved. Princes Highway West and East. The completion of the Hume Highway. The rail freight network here in Victoria. We put substantial funds into Victorian infrastructure.
When Labor was in government, Victoria got its fair share and they were due to get more because in the 2013 Budget there was additional funding for the Melbourne Metro, for the next stage of the M80 upgrade, for the Managed Motorways program, that were all cut in Mr Abbott’s 2014 Budget. But since then we’ve seen further cuts including a cut to Infrastructure Australia funding that has been imposed in last year’s budget by the Turnbull Government. So it’s very clear that Victorians aren’t getting a fair shake from this government. Malcolm Turnbull is welcome to travel on public transport in Melbourne anytime he likes and he’s welcome to take selfies. But what he should do is actually fund them.
REPORTER: Is it right for the Premier to have announced this money in the Budget for Regional Rail revival when it’s not necessarily guaranteed?
ALBANESE: It’s absolutely right of Premier Andrews because the Victorian Government is entitled to funding under the Coalition Government’s own program. Now, let’s be clear about where this asset recycling money came from. It came from a transfer from the Building Australia Fund that was established by the former Labor Government for projects that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia.
So that’s where the money was taken from in the 2014 Budget, put in this asset recycling scheme. New South Wales has received money from it, the ACT has received money from it, why is it that Victoria, which complied with the rules that were established by the Coalition Government is being denied this funding?
So it is appropriate that Victorians understand exactly what it means if the Turnbull Government fails to honour its own policy when it comes to the asset recycling fund by funding regional rail here in Victoria.
REPORTER: You’re both optimistic but the Premier’s made some comments about the “Prime Minister of Sydney”. Will that help encourage the funding for Victoria in this Budget?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s pretty clear that Malcolm Turnbull is out of touch with everyone except for maybe the people in his small enclave of Sydney, in the electorate of Wentworth. What’s very clear is that Malcolm Turnbull when he came to office said that he didn’t agree with Tony Abbott’s position which cut funding for the Melbourne Metro, cut funding for the public transport projects in Perth, the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.
He came to office and ripped that money out including $3 billion that was in the budget for the Melbourne Metro. Now, Malcolm Turnbull came to office, rolled Tony Abbott and said that he had a different policy. But we’re not seeing a different policy actually being put into practice. The only difference on public transport is that Tony Abbott didn’t take selfies on it. He didn’t fund it and nor has Malcolm Turnbull.
DANBY: Albo comes down from Sydney. He’s from Sydney. He’s a national politician. That’s the basic agreement that we all have underlying federation. That everyone gets an equitable distribution of money and I’m very pleased the way you’ve been fierce arguing for Victoria.
We don’t want a silly rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney. All we want is our fair share of infrastructure money because we’re a big city and as all of us know, we’re growing like anything. As the immigration statistics say. Thirty-seven per cent of all new arrivals are coming to Victoria.
ALBANESE: Sydney is a great city. It deserves infrastructure. Melbourne is a great city. It deserves infrastructure. It’s about time the Prime Minister understood that he has a national responsibility. That means not making funding decisions based upon what way people vote in state elections.
What that means is actually funding projects like the Melbourne Metro here in Melbourne, or Regional Rail here in Victoria that has been proposed by the Andrews Government, or for that matter the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.
What we need to do is to stop this nonsense that has occurred since the 2014 Budget of penalising people for having the temerity to elect state Labor governments, because it’s having an impact on urban congestion here in what is the fastest growing city in Australia, the great city of Melbourne. Thanks.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.
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