House debates

Monday, 29 July 2019

Private Members' Business


12:06 pm

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) congratulates the Government on:

(a) the extensive urban and regional infrastructure investment of $100 billion announced in the 2019 Budget; and

(b) its focus on national freight challenges, congestion busting and road safety;

(2) recognises that every state of the Commonwealth is benefitting from the Government's infrastructure program; and

(3) commends the Government on providing the infrastructure that will build our future and generate growth for our economy.

Busting congestion is one of the main aims of the Morrison Liberal government, and it is particularly important for my electorate of Boothby that we bust congestion on our roads wherever we possibly can. I am incredibly proud of the work that we have underway and the work that, in some instances, is already concluding in my seat of Boothby, because this is about making people's lives easier. It's about getting people to work and to school more quickly and making it easier for everyone in my community to be where they need to be as quickly as possible.

Yesterday I was at the Oaklands crossing to celebrate the almost full completion of this fantastic congestion-busting project. This is one that I am particularly proud of because, when I became the candidate for Boothby in 2015, I managed to secure the first ever funding commitment to fix this 40-year-old problem for my community. We committed an initial $40 million to fix the Oaklands crossing, and I was very proud to be able to secure a further $55 million during my first term, which saw the project fully funded, because the state government jumped on board as well to provide some funding, as did the City of Marion, so that the, in total, $174.5 million project could be started and completed. I am still quite astounded that we managed to get the full funding and get the project fully completed within about 12 months. I want to congratulate the PTP Alliance for the incredible job they did on this project. The train has been running underneath the road for many months now, and the actual road infrastructure—Diagonal Road and Morphett Road—is in the process of being fully completed. It is a wonderful piece of road infrastructure, I must say, and it has made a huge difference to people's lives.

The Oaklands crossing sees about 41,000 vehicles cross over it now every day. That's a lot of cars. When we had the boom gates there to let the trains through especially during peak hour, the boom gates would be down for a total of two hours a day. That was two hours a day when people were stuck in traffic trying to get to work and to school. There are a number of primary schools in the area, so there were a lot of parents who were needing to get through this crossing every single day to get their kids to and from school, and they were getting stuck. Also right next to the Oaklands crossing is Westfield Marion, which is the biggest suburban shopping centre in Adelaide. It supports a huge number of jobs and is a very popular shopping destination. Before Oaklands crossing was fixed it was a lot harder for people in the community to get to Westfield Marion to do their shopping and to support local jobs.

Oaklands crossing is also right next door to the South Australian aquatics centre, which is an Olympic-standard facility. It is where we regularly hold national and international swimming meets. Before Oaklands crossing was fixed it was very difficult for people to get to the aquatics centre easily and in a timely manner. For people coming from the city there is a brand-new train station. They can get off the train in what is one of the best train stations in Adelaide and walk across to the aquatic centre.

There are so many reasons why I fought for this project to be done. I would like to pay tribute to my state colleague the member for Gibson and state minister Corey Wingard, who started the petition to fix Oaklands crossing years ago. I was really happy to get on board with Corey's petition when I became the candidate for Boothby and work hard with him to secure our initial $40 million federal funding commitment. Our colleague David Speirs has also worked very hard with us on this project, as has our new colleague Stephen Patterson, the member for Morphett, who has been more recently elected but worked very hard with us on this project when he was the mayor of Holdfast Bay.

That is just one of many fantastic infrastructure projects. Another, really important one is fixing the north-south corridor. To date, $2.7 billion has been committed to the corridor, which sees 78,000 vehicles pass down it each day. South Road, which is the main focus of the north-south corridor, runs straight through my electorate. This is not just about busting congestion for all residents of Adelaide and all South Australians who need to use the north-south corridor; it's really about busting congestion for my local residents, who have all of the traffic flowing through our electorate every single day. Again, it's about getting them to work and to school more quickly and safely.

I'm really pleased to report that the Darlington upgrade part of the project, which was a $496 million federal commitment, which commenced before I was elected to this place, is well and truly underway. We have cars now going through the lowered motorway, which is really exciting. What is particularly exciting about the Darlington upgrade part of the project is that the Flinders Link rail project is now well and truly underway. To my mind, this is the absolutely best example of how government infrastructure investment should work, because it is going to unlock over a billion dollars of private investment, simply because we're extending a railway line. I'm very proud to have championed this project and been involved with fighting for this project, which extends the Tonsley rail line, which finishes at Tonsley, up to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University. We're extending it about 650 metres. It's a $125 million project that is jointly funded by the Morrison and Marshall Liberal governments. It is going to give every single university student and staff member a brand-new public transport option. It will give patients at Flinders Medical Centre a brand-new public transport option. It will give staff at Flinders Medical Centre a brand-new public transport option. Both the university and the medical centre have had really big issues with parking, so this will take the pressure off parking on both sites. It will also connect both sites with the city. The train station in the city is in very close proximity to all of our brand-new medical infrastructure in Adelaide—the SAMRI, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital—and we will be contacting Flinders Medical Centre, which is now the biggest hospital in Adelaide with the city. We will connect all of those academic and medical researchers with their colleagues in the city so they can very easily walk out the door, get on the train and get into the city to meet and connect with their colleagues, which is really important.

It's also giving my local community a brand-new public transport option, so it's very exciting for my local community, as well. I know people will be very keen users of this, not just to get to work if they work in the city each day but also to get into Adelaide Oval to see our footballers and our cricket players, especially when we have international matches or a crows or a port game as well.

This project will unlock $1.5 billion of investment by Flinders University and create thousands of construction jobs, and then permanent jobs, on the site. Flinders are going to create an integrated health and education precinct. They are going to build new student accommodation, health accommodation, health research facilities and retail facilities, which is absolutely brilliant for the south and for my local community.

I'm going to run at of time unfortunately. I could talk about infrastructure all day, but I've only got another minute, so I will mention a few more congesting busting projects that the Morrison Liberal government has supported. We are going to fix the Cross Road and Fulton Road intersection, which is a $30.5 million federal investment. This is going to make life a lot easier for people who are coming from Blackwood and Belair down the hill. It is a huge bottleneck. We have Urrbrae and Unley high schools right next door. We have The University of Adelaide right next door. We are going to make this easier for everyone in that area every single day.

We are fixing the long-term problem of the Springbank, Goodwood and Daws Road intersection, which is absolutely critical for my local community as well, especially to take pressure off of nearby roads as we upgrade those roads. We are also going to invest $20 million on fixing the James Road and Old Belair Road intersection, which is particularly fraught and quite dangerous, especially for our cyclists.

I'm incredibly proud of what the Morrison government is doing to bust congestion in Australia.

Photo of Sharon BirdSharon Bird (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

12:17 pm

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) Share this | | Hansard source

Just like the government's infrastructure record, and the contribution that we have just heard now, this motion is high on rhetoric and very low on delivery. It fails to mention the government's dismal record of spending $5.1 billion less on infrastructure than it promised in its first six years. That is $5.1 billion worth of road, rail, public transport, technology, aviation and port upgrades, promised by this government, that were delayed, postponed or cancelled, and that affects all of us. It affects commuters and frustrates all car and truck drivers. These delays hamper our freight and logistics sector and it hurts our construction workforce and those who want to get a job. This government's dismal infrastructure record is $5.1 billion of delay, frustration and roadblocks.

Instead of recognising this as an issue, instead of getting to work to get these projects going, what does the government do? It congratulates itself. That's what it does in this motion before us today.

Instead of using the Building Australia Fund to deliver projects through that $3.9 billion fund, the government hasn't withdrawn anything since 2014, because they didn't like the independent, transparent strategic process required of them. After four failed attempts, in what is their first week back here in this parliament, they abolished that fund. They failed to take inspiration from success stories, like the Queensland Labor government that last week reported a near zero per cent underspend for 2018-19. Rather than congratulate this government, I congratulate the Queensland Labor government for a strong year of delivering the projects that they committed to.

They reject the advice of the Reserve Bank governor, economists and state governments to bring forward critical infrastructure investment across the country. With the Deputy Prime Minister repeating time and time again the tired line, 'We can't build it all at once,' he demeans his office and the experts who thoughtfully urged this government to fast-track investment to boost jobs and improve productivity.

The motion also fails to inform the Australian people that this government's 10 year infrastructure program does not, in fact, add up to $100 billion. It fails to mention that some of the projects do not match the priorities of state governments and even local communities, like Perth's Freight Link and Melbourne's East West Link, with money not allocated by this government—despite Labor governments in Western Australia and Victoria—on projects that are of joint priority, where planning and construction can actually commence now.

It also fails to disclose that projects like the Geelong rail, of which only $20 million is allocated in 2020 for 2021-22, and $30 million in 2022-23, are likely to require an even greater contribution than that allocated by the government. This motion fails to disclose that only $29.5 billion of this so-called $100 billion Infrastructure Investment Program is budgeted for the next four years; 70 per cent of allocated funding is on the never-never. I note that in the member for Boothby's contribution about his home state of South Australia, the signature electoral commitment by the Liberals was $1.5 billion for the North-South Corridor future priority road upgrades. But guess how much is committed in the forward estimates? How much of this $1.5 billion project do you think we're going to actually see in the next four years—even in the next three years of this government? Five hundred million? That wouldn't be bad, but no. Fifty million? No. Just $15 million of this $1.5 billion will be delivered over the next four years, in 2022-23. In contrast, Labor committed to fast-track work on the next stage of Adelaide's South Road upgrade by investing $95 million within our first few months in office.

In conclusion, it is pretty clear that the government's infrastructure program is nothing but a pipedream. Frankly, to not commence a signature congestion-busting project commitment like the North-South Corridor until after the next election says everything about the government's capacity to deliver. To continue to include projects that will not even commence because they're not supported by state governments, to not acknowledge a dismal $5.1 billion underspend, says everything about this government. All they do is congratulate themselves and deliver nothing. (Time expired)

12:22 pm

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm going to please the previous speaker, the member for Ballarat, by again congratulating us on the terrific job we're doing on infrastructure across my electorate of Forde. The reason for this is that the people of Forde rely on these key pieces of infrastructure across the city for their daily lives. They rely on the M1 and the Mount Lindesay Highway to go to school, to go to work, to see family and friends, and to run and operate their businesses. They also rely on our public transport system, but sometimes are limited by the lack of car parking at train and bus stations across the electorate of Forde.

Importantly, we recognise these challenges, which is why I'm proud to be part of a coalition government that is investing $100 billion towards extensive urban and regional infrastructure projects across Australia, and, importantly, across my electorate of Forde. I continue to remain focused on delivering road upgrades to ensure the commuters across Forde can get home sooner and safer. I'll seek to ensure that residents across Logan and the northern Gold Coast have access to the infrastructure facilities they need. In Logan, we're looking at the upgraded Mount Lindesay Highway, and the residents who rely on the M1 receiving their fair share of M1 funding from the state government.

On the Mount Lindesay Highway, we have already put $16 million towards the North McLean safety improvements, which will be completed later this year. And during the election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and I announced a further $30 million in funding to upgrade the Mount Lindesay Highway. Prioritising funding for the Mount Lindesay Highway ensures the residents in Logan's west can get home safer and sooner.

We've also committed to improving bottlenecks along the M1 and on top of the current project from the Gateway merge to Springwood, an investment of some $115 million, we're seeing an additional $1 billion in congestion-busting infrastructure committed. We'll deliver another $347.5 million to upgrade the M1 northbound from Springwood to Eight Mile Plains, but also south to Daisy Hill; as well as another $500 million for the section from Daisy Hill to the Logan motorway. This will ensure the M1 is eight lanes from Nerang to the gateway, the way it should have been built in the first place.

This government also invests $50 million towards upgrades to exits 41, at Yatala, and 49, at Pimpama. We do this because we know the small businesses in the Yatala area rely on the M1 to run their businesses and the residents in Pimpama rely on exit 49 for their daily commute. It is for that reason that I'm proud to be delivering on these congestion-busting road upgrades, which will ensure the residents of Forde are home sooner and safer. I note that, in reference to the member for Ballarat's contribution about the Queensland state government, we have put this $50 million on the table for exits 41 and 49, but the state government are yet to match it, and it will not be until 2021-22 at a minimum.

We are also committed to improving the safety of our local roads, which is why the federal government has already delivered $3.4 million to Logan City Council through our Roads to Recovery Program to support the maintenance of local roads. I remain committed to delivering upgrades to local roads, including $1.4 million toward the gel Jellicoe Street-Station Road intersection in Loganlea in conjunction with Logan City Council, $5 million towards up dating Beaudesert Beenleigh Road between Milne Street and Tallagandra Street, $11.5 million for the Chambers Flat Road upgrade between Park Ridge Road and Derby Road and $2.4 million towards upgrading High Road and Easterly Street, a major bottleneck during school pickup times in Waterford.

Our urban infrastructure initiative will deliver $4 billion over 10 years to reduce congestion in urban areas, and this includes the $500 million Commuter Car Park Fund. In my electorate of Forde, $45 million will go towards new commuter car parks at Loganlea, Beenleigh and Coomera train stations. Residents have been telling me how difficult it is to get car parks at those stations and, therefore, to use public transport. This shows that the coalition government is committed to delivering infrastructure right across my electorate and across the country.

12:27 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

Three terms in, the coalition government can't lock at infrastructure through the prism of the national interest. Everything they say and everything they do about infrastructure is about the cheapest of politics. In fact, we have seen a little bit of that in the contributions of the two Opposition Whips today. The member for Boothby had 10 minutes but didn't articulate any vision of the role that infrastructure will really play in boosting productivity and liveability. It was a very narrow focus on issues affecting her electorate. Of course, that's important, but that's not the sole way in which this government or any decent national government should look at infrastructure. Similarly, it was very interesting to hear about the boosts that his marginal electorate has got courtesy of this government, but that doesn't tell us—well, in fact, it does tell us quite a bit about this government's attitude to nation-building infrastructure and its lack of any vision for boosting productivity and liveability, particularly in our big cities.

We on this side of the House know and have known for some time that the infrastructure cycle has to be separated from the electoral cycle, not driven by it, which is, in fact, the approach of members opposite. We saw that last week in the gutting of the Building Australia Fund, which could and should be a drive for doing just that: getting projects running that have been properly assessed which serve the national interest, not simply the passing concern of members of this government.

I do acknowledge, though, that there has been some progress in the three terms of this government from Tony Abbott, the former member for Warringah, who famously refused to fund urban public transport. Now, over the last six years, some very bad things have been done which have damaged Australians and damaged the Australian economy, but I think this refusal to fund projects like the Cross River Rail and Melbourne Metro have damaged productivity in Australia more than anything else and have set us back so far. I am pleased that the government under Prime Minister Morrison has moved away from this, but I remain disappointed that so much of this movement has been at a rhetorical level, as my friend the member for Ballarat made clear in her contribution.

As in so many other areas, when it comes to infrastructure, the rhetoric of this government is unmasked by the reality. Take again the $100 billion claim that the members opposite like spruiking. For one, it isn't $100 billion, and in any event all of this investment is way out into the never-never, way beyond the forward estimates such that it's impossible to make any meaningful assessment of what it means or what it might mean for Australia's productivity or for our communities, be they in the cities or the regions.

Again, if we look at our record in government compared to the current government, we saw great progress under Minister Albanese, lifting infrastructure investment, particularly public infrastructure investment, right up the rankings and transforming peoples' quality of life, transforming the sustainability of our communities and boosting our economy, whereas we slide backwards with the underinvestment and politicised neglect of this government. Now, more than almost any time in our recent history since the GFC, we need productive infrastructure investment. It's not us that is saying it; it's the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and pretty much every reputable economist. Now is the time to be investing in projects which are ready to go, based on proper assessments and based on cooperative arrangements. These are the things the government isn't interested in. They talk about congestion-busting and, as you would be well aware, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, congestion happens in Melbourne too. Congestion even happens in Melbourne's north and west, where there has been a paltry investment by this government.

The member for Boothby is from South Australia. I did note that, in the lead-up to the last election, 17 of the 18 road projects committed to by the government were in coalition seats. In Adelaide, the picture was starker—seven of eight were in the electorates of Sturt and Boothby. This is a government which is only concerned to boost congestion when they think it will boost their electoral prospects and that simply is not good enough. It is not good enough for Australians, it is not good enough for my constituents or yours, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, and it's not good enough for any vision of how our economy should function. I could go on about the difference between my electorate and that of the member for Boothby in terms of investment but perhaps I've already made the point.

What I do want to say in the time available to me is that busting congestion is a critical piece of our productivity puzzle. It should deserve better treatment than that which it is being given by this government. We need a national urban policy framework within which to situate it. We need infrastructure to be supported based on need, based on business cases, not on political convenience. We need a government that is not simply interested in looking in the mirror and liking what it sees. We need a government that is prepared to always act in the national interest when it comes to infrastructure.

12:32 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm delighted to speak on all topics, but it's infrastructure which I'm excited about. I'm sorry that the member for Scullin is hurrying back to his office to hear this speech on his television because I'll address some of his unkind comments as we go. We do know that this government has the economy right and that's where it starts—AAA credit rating, back in surplus, faster growth than any of the OECD bar the United States. The importance of an economy, as the Prime Minister often reminds us, is it is the enabler, the means by which we can provide vital public services and also build infrastructure, and a $100 billion infrastructure package is what this government is looking at.

The previous speaker, the member for Scullin, obviously is not aware that the government actually has put in the one portfolio responsibility for population growth, cities and urban infrastructure—a clear indication that this government gets it when it comes to where the pressure comes from on infrastructure, particularly in our major cities and our major regions. The challenge for all of us who serve the people in this place is to try to ensure that infrastructure keeps ahead of, if not at least catches up with, the population curve. You can only do that if you've got the money to do it. You can only do that with a strong economy, which is why we are so unashamedly proud of our performance when it comes to delivering a strong economy. The stronger the economy is, the more infrastructure you can build.

Unfortunately, the member for Scullin also mentioned the Cross River Rail project in Brisbane, almost as an example, he was saying, where the government has not looked at business cases. To the contrary, that business case was given to Infrastructure Australia by the Queensland Labor government. Infrastructure Australia agreed that it looked like a good project but said that it wasn't needed now. It had some question marks around the timing—there was more scale required coming into that rail system in Brisbane before its time was there. Still to this day, despite years gone by, Infrastructure Australia is waiting for the Queensland Labor government to resubmit a business case. Yet you have Labor Party members in this House coming into this chamber suggesting the government isn't looking at business cases. Well, there is a business case for rail in South East Queensland and that is the Beerburrum to Nambour business case—$780 million. For the first time in our history a federal government has committed funds for that stretch of rail. $390 million—50 per cent of that $780 million spent—was committed by the coalition government. That was a project prioritised by Infrastructure Australia that had a business case submitted by the state government and accepted, and for the first time we fund 50 per cent. Has it started, though? No, it hasn't. Why? Because we still wait for the state Labor government in Queensland to start doing some work. Traditionally they pay 100 per cent. Now they pay 50 per cent. That's a 50 per cent discount, and they still will not start work.

We had $10 billion on the Bruce Highway throughout Queensland. That's not just about transport. It's not just about flood mitigation. It's not just about congestion. It's not just about safety measures. It is about getting people home. It's about you and I and other people in this House getting home safely to our families; spending less time in traffic and more with our loved ones. It's about ensuring that our small and medium businesses are more productive and their costs are kept low. These are the outcomes around the social fabric of our communities, around the strength and productivity of our economy, that good infrastructure investment delivers. I'm very proud to be part of a government that is delivering aptly in that regard.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.