Subjects: Infrastructure cuts; Monash Freeway; Managed Motorways; cities policy; Angas Taylor; ICAC; smart infrastructure
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here in Berwick with Simon Curtis, who is the Labor Candidate for the seat of La Trobe. And it’s great to be back here in La Trobe where we announced when in government that we would upgrade the Monash Freeway with $69 million between Warrigal Road and Clyde Road for the implementation of smart infrastructure.
This had been examined by Infrastructure Australia and was a part of the Managed Motorways Program. It would produce a benefit of more than $5 for every dollar that was invested and together with the $400 million upgrade of the Monash that has been announced by the Victorian Government would make a major difference to productivity.
We have when it comes to infrastructure and a massive deficit in Victoria from the Commonwealth Government. Victoria has one in four Australians but receives just 9 per cent of the federal infrastructure budget. And that of course is a small infrastructure Budget because it has fallen by 20 per cent since the change of government in 2013.
We actually need a local member here in La Trobe who will stand up for the interests of this community. And the Monash Freeway only received funding from the Commonwealth Government when we were in office. Prior to that, of course, the Commonwealth had no responsibility and didn’t commit any investment and since the change in government they cut that $69 million that was committed in the 2014 Budget. We need to make sure that we build better roads, better public transport and better, more productive, sustainable and liveable cities and it is only federal Labor that is committed to that. And I might ask Simon to say a few words.
SIMON CURTIS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LA TROBE: Well firstly I’d like to thank Anthony for coming out here today and just showing our support in Federal Labor for road projects and infrastructure projects and especially right here in Berwick. We know how much this project means to the people of Berwick and the people that live right throughout La Trobe and so I thank Anthony for coming here today and just confirming Labor’s position and confirming the position of the Liberal Government which is to over their time back in office of taking that money out of the Monash Freeway and putting it on to other projects.
REPORTER: Is the project fully funded already?
ALBANESE: It will be fully funded by us. We had the money in the Budget and it was taken out of the Budget by the Liberal Government as a conscious decision. And I notice that the Federal Member for La Trobe for the Liberal Party refused to say anything at the time of that cut. And of course when it comes to cities, this is a government that is distracted.
We have a new Prime Minister who says that he cares about cities, but the fact is we haven’t seen any investment in cities. We have a Prime Minister who likes to ride on trams but won’t fund trams or trains here in Melbourne or indeed throughout Victoria.
And we have now a downgraded Parliamentary Secretary for Cities, Angus Taylor, who is distracted by the fact that he has been caught up in the scandal regarding the donations to the Liberal Party.
Angus Taylor was mentioned in the ICAC hearings as part of the NSW Liberal Finance Committee has obviously been more concerned about those distractions than with actually delivering a policy change. And it’s very possible that now there is a cloud over the second person appointed for cities by Malcolm Turnbull after the first person of course, Minister Briggs, had to stand aside.
ALBANESE: We are absolutely committed to this project and more. We want to get advice from Infrastructure Australia about further commitments that we would make in terms of road and rail funding. But the problem is that this government actually took money away from projects that had been recommended by Infrastructure Australia.
They took money away from the Monash Freeway here through the Managed Motorways Program. They took money away from the M80 ring road project here in Melbourne and they took money away from the Melbourne Metro, all three of which had been approved by Infrastructure Australia, would have provided a massive boost to the Victorian economy. And that’s why we need to listen to Infrastructure Australia. This specific project: $5.20 of benefit for every single dollar that would have been invested.
REPORTER: How much time do you think this will save commuters?
CURTIS: I don’t l know precisely how long it will save. I mean the Managed Motorways is all about adapting to the circumstances of the time so different times of day will result in different times for journeys.
ALBANESE: The big benefit here is during peak hour – being able to make sure that the motorway benefits from the infrastructure which is there. This is about being smart with our infrastructure.
At the Sydney Institute just two weeks ago we announced that for every Infrastructure Australia submission, state governments or private sector proponents would have to include in it how smart infrastructure was a part of the project so that the public get the best out of every single taxpayer dollar.
That’s why this project made sense, that’s why this project was recommended by Infrastructure Australia and that’s why it is so short sighted that the Liberal Party cut this funding. We have had three years of lost opportunity when it comes to infrastructure. Three years of cutbacks. Three years of not investing in the productivity boosting infrastructure that we need.
That 20 per cent decline in infrastructure investment from the public sector from September 2013 through to the current time based upon the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. Now that means, that means that we need to do much better.
Here in Victoria in particular, the fact that Victorians are receiving 9 per cent of the infrastructure budget and that Victorian Liberal Party members are not only saying that that’s OK; they are applauding it.
That says a lot about them and says why we need local members that will actually stand up for their electorate. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.