May 9, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra – Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Subjects: Budget, infrastructure, Melbourne Airport Rail, Western Sydney Rail.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Last night’s Budget, when it comes to infrastructure, is simply a hoax. There is no new funding for infrastructure in last night’s Budget and the Budget papers tell the story itself on page after page. New Tasmanian infrastructure investments –  zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. Infrastructure Investment Program – zero, zero, zero, zero. Victoria – zero, zero, zero, zero, zero.

This is a Budget that delivers zero when it comes to new infrastructure. And the Budget Papers show that on page after page of Budget Paper Number 2. What we have is a commitment that if you re-elect the Turnbull Government, and then re-elect them again and then re-elect them again, you might actually see some infrastructure delivery.

We knew that Malcolm Turnbull liked taking selfies on trains. We then found out that he quite liked to announce new trains. It’s about time he built some new trains because what we are seeing from this Government is just a mirage.

Take for example the grand announcement of $5 billion for the airport rail line in Melbourne. What we know from the Budget Papers is that that is not real. It says this – page 143, Budget Paper Number 2: “Up to $5 billion for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link with specific funding arrangements including an option for equity investment to be settled at a later date.

What a farce. Not real, no actual funding, just saying at some time in the future, at a time of the future, with funding for the future, something might happen but it will happen in the form of an equity investment. That is a funding model that simply doesn’t work for public transport. Public transport needs grant funding. You can only have equity funding, that is off-budget that costs nothing in terms of the Budget, if it produces greater revenue than the ongoing cost structure of running that infrastructure, which no public transport project in Australia currently does. And what’s more, it has to produce a difference of revenue over ongoing cost which is high enough to actually pay for the capital investment of building that infrastructure. This is a farce and the sector knows it.

We saw also a big page one splash about Western Sydney Rail through Badgerys Creek Airport. What we actually have in the Budget is $50 million for a study to do the business case and not a single dollar – not one – for actual construction of that rail line. This is a Government that is all about making grand statements but not about delivering new infrastructure.