Subjects: Victoria dudded on national infrastructure investment; Regional Rail Link; asset recycling.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am pleased to be here this morning with my Parliamentary colleague Jacinta Allan, the Victorian Minister, and what I am here for is to say that once again Victoria has been dudded by the Federal Budget last Tuesday night. Victorians have one in four of the Australian population and yet they are not even getting one in ten of national infrastructure dollars. Last Tuesday night we saw insult on top of the previous insults that have come from Canberra towards Victoria. Victoria is entitled to $1.45 billion of the Government’s Asset Recycling Funds. It’s the Federal Government’s own policy. They handed over that money to NSW, they handed it over to the ACT, and yet Victoria was once again short-changed.
In addition to that Victoria had its budget cut across the board when it comes to infrastructure. Some $150 million is being spent less this year than what the Coalition Government under Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison said they would spend last year. That declines from some $740 million that they committed this year – we know they only got $590 million. But it gets worse each and every year. By 2020-21 Victoria will receive just $280.7 million from the Commonwealth Government for nation building infrastructure. And we saw those cuts across the board – cuts to the Black Spots Program, cuts to the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, cuts to the Bridges Program.
All this Government has been prepared to do is put back some money in recent years that they themselves had previously cut – funds for projects like the M80 that they cut in 2014, put money back in 2016 and somehow pretended that it was new money.
The Regional Rail Package, put together by Jacinta and the Victorian Government, is a credible package. It’s one that will benefit people in regional Australia, including in Darren Chester, the Infrastructure Ministers’, own electorate of Gippsland, and it is quite extraordinary that Victorian Government has been dudded again. But of course they are not just dudding the Victorian Government, they are dudding each and every Victorian – punishing them for not electing a Coalition State Government, punishing them because Malcolm Turnbull has a Sydney-centric view of the world. It’s based upon the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I say that as a proud Sydneysider.
When we were in Government, we funded Victorian infrastructure – the M80 and other road projects but most significantly the Regional Rail Link – the largest ever public investment from the Commonwealth in a public transport project. We are very proud of that record. It’s about time that the Federal Government got with the program and actually funded infrastructure instead of what we saw last week, which was a $1.7 billion cut in infrastructure investment nationally just this year.
JACINTA ALLAN, VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT: It is good to join the Federal Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese here this afternoon at Southern Cross Station and of course Southern Cross Station is the heart of the regional network with every regional train running in and out of this station. And what we are wanting to do in Victoria is to build a stronger, better regional public transport system and we are simply asking for the funds that we are entitled to through the Asset Recycling Initiative. We are simply asking for these funds to come to Victoria because this is not Malcolm Turnbull’s money. It’s not anyone else’s money but Victorians’ money and we are simply asking for the funds that Victoria is entitled to. And I’m so pleased that Anthony Albanese and the Federal Labor Opposition are taking up the case for Victoria because we need those voices in Canberra. We need those voices in Canberra reminding this Sydney-centric, Sydney-focused Liberal Federal Government that we continuing to be dudded. We do have 25 per cent of the population here. We are getting far short of our share of funding in infrastructure and even worse, were are having money that is entitled to Victoria taken off us at the same time.
Anthony symbolises a strong contrast to Malcolm Turnbull and his team and he spoke of the Regional Rail Link. That is a fantastic project that is delivering real results. Anthony was the minister when that money was first allocated back in 2009. This is a project that opened in 2015 and we have seen a boom in terms of the number of people using our regional public transport services. The Andrews Labor Government wants to build on that. We want to go into the next stage of a regional rail revival, building on the traditions of Labor Governments in the past. It is only Labor Governments that invest in regional rail and we will join with our Federal colleagues to fight for each and every dollar, each and every dollar that firstly we are entitled to under the Asset Recycling Initiative and then secondly, each and every dollar that we are entitled to as part of a fair share of funding that should come to Victoria.
ALBANESE: Well what Malcolm Turnbull has done is reallocate some $30 million for the study into the link to Tullamarine, but at the same time of course he has given nothing whatsoever to the Melbourne Metro project which was essential as a pre-condition for having the Airport Rail Link and at the same time he is ripping out almost half a billion dollars that should have been allocated under the Asset Recycling Scheme. And the thing about asset recycling is that is under the Government’s own logic it is money being handed back to the states as a result of a revenue increase to the Federal Government as a result of assets changing hands from government ownership to private ownership. So what that means is that they are actually making a profit of almost half a billion dollars from the sale of the ports here by the Victorian Government. It is an outrageous positon that Malcolm Turnbull and his Government have.