Feb 10, 2015

Transcript of doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Liberal leadership crisis; Tony Abbott; broken promises on infrastructure, public transport; Malcolm Turnbull

ALBANESE: Yesterday we saw an extraordinary concession from the Prime Minister who conceded that for the first 16 months his government had been a bad government. It was incredible. He said ‘good government starts today’. It’s as if they were so pleased at graduating from Opposition that they decided to have a gap year.

Well that is not what good government is about and they need to stop politics being at the forefront of all of their decision making. And nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to infrastructure.

Infrastructure by definition is long term. It’s about making sure that we boost productivity, reduce congestion on our roads and on our rail system. And to do that you have to invest in not just roads but public transport.

So how about Tony Abbott get the message and stop this nonsense of no Commonwealth involvement in public transport. You can’t deal with urban congestion  in our cities without dealing with the question of urban public transport.

It’s not good enough to repeat this rhetoric over and over again about roads of the 21st century when actually not a single road that was commissioned by the Abbott Government has commenced. He said that there would be bulldozers on these new projects and cranes over the sky within 12 months. Well it’s now been 16 months. He’s admitted that it hasn’t been a good government, and no projects have commenced.

With regard to the absurdity of the East-West Link, he could concede that he’s made an error. He talks a lot about pressure on government finances, but he made an advance payment of $1.5 billion during the last financial year for a road, that has a business case we know now, has a benefit-cost ratio that’s out there of 0.45, or 45 cents return for every dollar that’s invested. That’s just a dud project.

He could concede that and sit down in good faith with the Victorian Government and consider projects that actually do stack up – projects like the Melbourne Metro, where he cut $3 billion of funding. He could sit down with the incoming Queensland Government and discuss funding for the Cross River Rail project that we know is vital for Queensland. These are the practical steps that the Prime Minister needs to take after yesterday’s missteps.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: He has already paid a billion and a half dollars to the Victorian Government for a project that he now knows, because the business case is out there, does not stack up. There is a finite amount of money available for infrastructure. We need to make sure that it’s spent well. He committed that all projects above $100 million would be subject to the IA process. That there’d be transparency and that money would be directed in a way that produced best value for taxpayers and best value in terms of boosting productivity growth. He should stick to his commitments that he made.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: It should be used for the right projects. Let’s be clear here. At the same time as during the last Budget they were hitting pensioners, people going to the doctor, students and others with their unfair Budget, they were putting a billion and a half dollars as an advance payment of the $3 billion into the bank account of their mate Denis Napthine’s Government in Victoria. Just sitting in a bank account. That’s what they did. That is bad policy. On infrastructure Tony Abbott was right when he committed that all projects over $100 million had to go through a transparent cost-benefit analysis. He should do that. That money should be used in an effective way to reduce urban congestion, to boost productivity. He could start by funding the M80 project, which is the outer ring road that has a very positive cost-benefit analysis that he cut funding for in last year’s budget. That’s ready to go, right now – it could be creating jobs and boosting productivity.

REPORTER: How worried are you about Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister before the end of the year and the impact on Labor’s chances of winning the election?

ALBANESE: We’ve seen Malcolm Turnbull off before. I think the idea that Malcom in his top hat is in touch with ordinary Australians is laughable. Malcolm Turnbull showed last time round that he was out of touch with ordinary Australians when his led the Liberal Party and was removed by his own Party when Tony Abbott took over.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: He was certainly not but what has occurred is that Malcolm Turnbull had previously said he didn’t want to lead a political party that didn’t take serious action on climate change. Now it’s pretty clear he’s prepared to do anything, stand for anything and say anything to lead his political party. The great dishonesty of him sitting on the frontbench pretending somehow he’s been a loyal Cabinet minister is quite absurd. You had a defacto leadership challenge yesterday from Malcolm Turnbull. He has a moral obligation to go and sit up the back.

Thank you.