Subjects: Infrastructure investment, public transport, Cross River Rail, Mackay Ring Road, Peak Downs Highway, Campbell Newman, Warren Truss.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT; SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIES: I’m very pleased to be here today with Jackie Trad, the Shadow Transport Minister for the Labor Party in Queensland. Today we’ve seen reported on the front page of The Australian newspaper, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that were released on January 14. Those statistics are a damning indictment of what the Liberal and National Parties do when they’re in government.
Here in Brisbane at the G20 the Abbott Government and Joe Hockey talked up the need for governments to invest in nation building infrastructure, to boost productivity and growth and jobs. Yet what we’ve seen is the precise opposite. What these statistics show is that since the election of the Abbott Government, if you look at the combined investments of federal and state governments dominated by the Coalition around the country, investment has fallen by 20%.
Here in Queensland, the fall is 40% since the Newman Government was elected. In Victoria over the life of the Baillieu and Napthine Governments investments fell by 41%. In NSW under the O’Farrell and Baird Governments investment fell by 30%. This is a pattern. It shows that under the Coalition you get less infrastructure investment.
We’ve got a couple of examples of it here in Queensland. Here in Queensland the Cross River Rail project that was abandoned by the Newman and Abbott Government, approved by Infrastructure Australia, regarded as the best infrastructure project to boost productivity anywhere in the nation, $715 million agreed to be allocated by both governments – they walked away from it. And they walked away from it in favour of a very inferior BaT tunnel proposal, for which no one’s seen the business case.
Further north today Warren Truss will be around Mackay announcing so-called funding for the Peak Downs Highway. The only problem with that is that it was the former Labor Government which in 2012 provided $13 million for the planning money. In the 2013 Budget we announced and included $120 million for construction to commence in 2015 – the same money Warren Truss will reannounce today.
Since they were elected the federal Coalition have gone on a magical infrastructure reannouncement tour right around the country claiming projects as new that were already under construction and where the investment was already provided in previous Budgets by the former Labor Government.
They haven’t invested, and here in Queensland, the Queensland LNP state government hasn’t invested either under Campbell Newman. What we know is that it takes Labor Governments to invest in public transport, to invest in freight rail and to invest in our road network.
JACKIE TRAD, QUEENSLAND SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND MAIN ROADS: Thank you Anthony. I’m really pleased to be here with Anthony today, someone who is passionate about infrastructure and public transport and someone who under his leadership as federal infrastructure minister, Australia moved from being ranked 20th in the OECD on infrastructure spend to first. That’s what you get from Labor – you get a legacy of public infrastructure, and you get a commitment to ensuring that our cities grow vibrantly and that people can get around.
Under the Newman LNP Government, spending on public infrastructure has fallen by 40%. That’s 40% less being spent on the important infrastructure that Queensland needs – whether it’s Cross River Rail, extending the rapid light rail down the Gold Coast, the Bruce Highway. You name it, it’s been abandoned by this government. The only infrastructure spend they’re focused on is a brand new executive tower for Campbell Newman and his ministers. That is the only infrastructure project that the LNP Government has committed to in the last 3 years.
Of course, now Campbell Newman is telling Queenslanders that the only way to invest in public infrastructure is to sell all of our profitable public assets. Campbell Newman again has said that he won’t sell assets unless he gets the right price. So all the infrastructure he’s been running around committing to over the past week or so falls over if he doesn’t get the price he wants.
Labor is calling on Campbell Newman to release all of the business case studies, all of the documentation around the sale of assets, because if the independent consultants are saying that these assets won’t attract the right price then these infrastructure projects that he’s promised over the past week are hollow and will never see the light of day.
This is too important to simply rely upon Campbell Newman’s word.
ALBANESE: A message to Warren Truss. When he’s in Mackay reannouncing the Peak Downs Highway funding he can explain to the people of Mackay, where I was yesterday, why it is that the Mackay Ring Road, where the planning money was funded, $10 million from the former federal Labor Government , and then funding for the Ring Road was put in the Budget in 2013 for construction to commence in 2014, why it is that that’s being delayed out to 2017?
They talk a lot about the Bruce Highway, and LNP members, both federal and state drive up and down and point towards the problem. What they haven’t done is invest.
The approach of cutting the Mackay Ring Road whilst reannouncing funding already there for the Peak Downs Highway just highlights how hollow the Coalition are when it comes to infrastructure investment. It’s a practical example along with the Cross River Rail cuts of why it is that infrastructure investment is falling not increasing at a time when we need that investment to secure jobs and economic growth.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.