Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Will the Deputy Prime Minister outline how the government's commitment to building the infrastructure of the 21st century will help to strengthen the economy?
I thank the member for Capricornia for her question. The coalition government really remain committed to building the infrastructure of the 21st century and we are getting on with the job. We have committed $50 billion towards road and rail projects right across the nation. That is at least $16.4 billion more than Labor were prepared to commit—$16.4 billion more than the opposition were prepared to commit. Our plan is seeing already significant development in every state, in the cities and in the country, building the infrastructure our country will need for the future, because we have always believed that building new and improved infrastructure boosts our economy.
Of course, today we have learnt that the International Monetary Fund agrees with us—that we have got it right. It even argues that building new roads and railway lines can actually end up reducing debt overall, and that is particularly important in Australia, where we have to pay more than $1 billion every month just on interest on the debt that Labor left behind. So, in a country that is deeply indebted because of the spending policies of our predecessors, it is good to have initiatives underway they can make a real difference to the quality of our nation's infrastructure but also put downward pressure on our debt. That is why the job of building infrastructure for Australians is so important.
Labor, in its last year in office, actually spent less on infrastructure—on roads and rail—than the Howard government did in its last year in office, six years earlier. Labor was great at spending the savings of the previous government, but, when they were all gone, it lost interest in infrastructure and the expenditure drifted away. We as a government are delivering on our commitment to deliver the infrastructure of the 21st century.
Mr Perrett interjecting—
There are at least 58 projects currently underway and another 69 in detailed planning stages. We are getting on with the job of building the roads and railway lines that this country will need for the 21st century. And the IMF agrees with us: it is a good strategy to deal with the future of our nation.