House debates

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Matters of Public Importance


3:12 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I have received a letter from the honourable member for Ballarat proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The Government's failure to properly invest in infrastructure.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

3:13 pm

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

I'm very pleased to have moved this matter of public importance about the government's failure on infrastructure. The government would have you believe that it has only just come into office. That, at 18 May, somehow—it's a miracle—they're a brand new government. But this is a third-term government that has had no agenda when it comes to infrastructure. After six years, two terms, they're basically claiming that projects that Labor had funded in government were somehow miraculously their own, they're cutting projects that had been funded and there are cost blowouts and delay. At the eleventh hour they discovered infrastructure, with this claim that they've now got a $100 billion 10-year infrastructure plan. I want to unpick that a little bit.

The first thing to say is that it is not $100 billion. The $100 billion includes projects that are not agreed by states and territories, like the East West Link in Melbourne, something that the state government in Victoria has clearly stated is not a project that it will be pursuing. It includes things like the Perth Freight Link. I see that the Liberal Party in Western Australia have again decided that they're going to pursue this particular project. But, again, it is a project that the federal government is not providing enough money for. It goes to a port that has already reached capacity and is frankly not going to assist with the freight task for Western Australia. Also, it is nowhere near the amount of money that will be needed to deliver that project.

So the first thing is that it's not $100 billion at all. The next thing is that they have already underspent by $5.1 billion on projects that they promised they were going to deliver. That's $5.1 billion less than they should have actually delivered in their term in office. They are projects that should already have been well and truly underway. So this government hasn't even been able to deliver on the small amount that it did actually promise.

The next thing is that a vast majority of this money is frankly on the never-never. How much of this so-called $100 billion infrastructure fund is actually going to be delivered in this term of office? We know from Senate estimates is very little of this money is actually going to be delivered in this term. Even where it is, it's back-ended to basically the fourth year of the forward estimates, when the government is going to be out there trying to claim these projects as new and part of the 2022 election campaign.

We have lots more of these examples, and I suspect there are lots more on the other side as well. Many of our backbenchers started to ask some questions about when some of these projects would be delivered. When will this money be delivered? In the forward estimates, only 30 per cent of the infrastructure money will be flowing. That's only in the forward estimates. We asked questions about the Pacific Motorway. It is an important project, an extension to Raymond Terrace in New South Wales but only $1.6 billion of that will be available in the next four years.

We asked about work on the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds rail upgrade in Victoria. That won't actually commence until July 2024. I'm not sure if the then member for Corangamite, when she was talking about this project, put in her leaflets: 'You might get this project, but you won't get it until 2024. Don't just elect me at this election but at the one after as well.' We know what the people of Corangamite thought about that. There's still absolutely no start date for the new Bridgewater Bridge, a project that's important for the member for Lyons seat in the north of Hobart. It is an important project. When is it going to start?

We know that this government has been big on rhetoric but very, very small on delivery. Remember, this is a third-term government that has been unable to deliver on infrastructure. It's now making a big claim. Let's see what it's going to be able to deliver. We know 90 per cent of the $500 million will be available for the safety upgrades for the Princess Highway south of Nowra, in the member for Gilmore's electorate, where we had the Prime Minister talking a big game about how he would fix all of the road safety problems on a highway that has seen far too many deaths in recent years. He was going to fix that. How much of that is actually going to be available? We know a very small proportion of the money, some $50 million, will be available in these four years.

When is work going to begin on eliminating the Boundary Road level crossing in Coopers Plains, one of South-East Queensland's worst traffic black spots? When we asked questions about that last week, the minister was totally unable to say when this project would commence. We also asked questions last week about the Rockhampton Ring Road, the bypass in Rockhampton. I know the member for Oxley asked the question, but somehow or other we had the minister unable to actually talk about where the project was. He started talking about—

Photo of Shayne NeumannShayne Neumann (Blair, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel) Share this | | Hansard source

He thinks it's in Brisbane.

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

All politics is local.

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

Exactly. All politics, I guess, is local, except if you're asking questions about projects in Rockhampton. This is a government that has been big on rhetoric, but very, very small on delivery.

What else has the government done in the two weeks we've had of parliamentary sittings? The other thing it's done when it's come to funding infrastructure is, of course, abolish the Building Australia Fund. They are taking $3.9 billion out of funding for infrastructure. Why did they do that? Because they didn't like the fact that this was a bucket of money that could have been used to fund important infrastructure projects that had been recommended by Infrastructure Australia. They didn't like the fact that they had to go through a proper assessment process to determine whether these projects could get funded. So they have taken $3.9 billion out of available funding for priority projects in infrastructure, including projects in Western Sydney around the airport including road projects and securing the pipeline for fuel infrastructure to make sure we have the capacity in the future to take hundreds of trucks off the roads in Western Sydney that deliver fuel. What did they do? Once again, after four attempts to get rid of the Building Australia Fund, they decided they would abolish it. And that's what they have done. They have taken that big bucket of money away from the priority projects of Infrastructure Australia. Basically, they are undermining the Infrastructure Australia process again. This is a government that doesn't like transparency when it comes to infrastructure funding. This is a government that talks big and delivers very little.

What we also know is that the government has an Urban Congestion Fund. That is good to see. We ourselves, around the election, announced a number of projects around these issues; we know that they are very important to people. But if you are a council and you are thinking, 'There's an urban congestion fund. Let's go to the government and see whether we can get a roundabout or another project in our area,' the money is basically spent for the next three years. 'There is no money to allocate for the next three years'—that's what the government has been telling councils—'but there might be some available in the fourth year.' Guess what? That is right before the next federal election. So you will be able to spend it in the election year.

This is a government that always plays politics when it comes to infrastructure. What we have seen is that it is not $100 billion, including projects that are never going to be funded because there is no agreement or they put so little money into the project that it is not actually able to be delivered. We know that they have also put projects on the never-never—projects that are desperately needed today. We've got the Reserve Bank governor, state and territory governments and reputable economists across the country saying, 'Bring forward infrastructure projects today.' So what does this government do? It says: 'Maybe we'll think about it. Eventually we might do a few.' But most of the projects they have funded are well and truly on the never-never. They have also underspent—not actually delivered what they promised to deliver—when it comes to infrastructure. Of course, what they have done is with the Building Australia Fund.

We know how important infrastructure is to local economies. We know how important it is for building jobs in regional economies. We know how important infrastructure is to making sure people are able to get to work safely and for the quality of life in their communities. But what we have seen from this third-term government is that it has no agenda and has completely neglected the space for the last six years. And then before the election, at the eleventh hour, they claim they are somehow going to be spending $100 billion over the next 10 years. For every single project you have said you are going to deliver on, in every single community, we are going to hunt you down and make sure you deliver every single dollar and every project you have promised.

3:23 pm

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

I am very pleased to speak on this matter of public importance. My first point is that I don't know where the member for Ballarat has been. If she got out of Canberra and got out of her office, she would see construction going on in every major capital city right now. She will see it going on in regional centres across our country. It is not for no reason that many commentators are saying we are in an infrastructure boom right now—and that is because we have projects right across this great nation dealing with congestion, supporting the economy and addressing community safety and road safety this very second. In fact, since we came to government, 900 projects have been identified to be funded, 280 projects have already been completed and 160 major projects are underway right now across this country. There are 160 major projects underway, under construction, this very second. The bitumen has been laid, the bulldozers are going and people are working very hard. Thousands of people are being employed, which is supporting local economies right across this nation. We also have 120 projects in the planning, ready to go. Once that planning is completed the money is there and ready to go. So to suggest that we don't have infrastructure projects going on, as the member for Ballarat is suggesting to this parliament, is, frankly, absolutely wrong.

I could refer back from a financial perspective to just five years ago, when the CEO of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Brendan Lyons, said that our plan at that stage represented the largest-ever national infrastructure investment program in Australian history. That was five years ago. Do you know what the size of our infrastructure program was then? It was $50 billion. Do you know what it is five years later? It is now a $100 billion program. Five years ago we had the respected leader of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia saying that this is the biggest program he'd ever seen in Australian history. Five years later we've doubled that again to $100 billion. We have so much infrastructure going on now that some commentators are saying that we're now reaching supply complaints from the construction companies, who may not be able to take too much on. This year we are spending on infrastructure more than double what the Labor Party spent in their last year in office.

So I say to the member for Ballarat: I honestly do not know where you have been. Get out there: go to Sydney, go to Melbourne, go to Adelaide, go to Brisbane, go to Perth, go to Hobart and go to the regional centres and you will see this construction going on all the time. I want to refer specifically to two or three projects, though. I've talked about the aggregate numbers. We have doubled the funding. We have a $100 billion program. We have 160 underway and another 120 planned. Let me at least talk about two or three very large-scale projects. These are projects which in some respects should have been built a long time ago, arguably decades, but it took this government to actually get them underway.

The very first one I'll mention is the Western Sydney Airport. This is a project which has been on the books for literally decades, but within six months of our coming to office we decided that we would get on with the job of building that second airport in Western Sydney. We did the planning work. We immediately put $5.3 billion on the table to get it underway. If the member for Ballarat bothered to go out to Western Sydney she would see the landscape changing before her eyes. Already a million cubic metres of earth has been moved to flatten that enormous landscape out there. When completed it will be the largest earthmoving project in Australian history, creating 11,000 jobs in the process. That's happening right now and it didn't happen under the opposition. They had the opportunity, they talked about it and they said that they wanted it, but for six long years Labor didn't get it done, because they couldn't make the decision.

Look at the next big project: the airport rail link down in Melbourne. Again, to be honest, this rail link should have been built two or three decades ago. This is another one where the Labor Party looked at it, talked about it and said that Melbourne needs a rail link out to the airport. Did they actually do anything about it in their six long years in office? No; nothing. Again it took this government to finally put money on the table. We put $5 billion on the table and said to the state government, 'Join us, please, in delivering this vitally important project for Melbourne and finally connect up Australia's second-busiest airport to the rail network.' They're now committed. We now have a construction schedule starting in 2022 and we will see that job done.

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

Wasn't the Baillieu government going to build it, along with the Rowville-Monash rail?

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

I heard an interjection here in relation to the Rowville-Monash rail—another project which never happened under the former Labor government, which is connecting up Australia's single-largest university campus to the rail network. Fifty-five thousand people attend the Monash Clayton campus. It took the government, in our infrastructure plan, to finally put the $475 million on the table and say, 'We need to get this job done.' If the member for Ballarat wants to assist in expediting that process then I ask her to pick up the phone to the Minister for Transport in Victoria or the Premier in Victoria and say, 'Let's get cracking on this project,' because the 55,000 students who attend that campus every single day want to see that campus connected to the metropolitan rail network in Melbourne.

I'm going to go back to Sydney and talk about WestConnex. WestConnex is a $16 billion game-changing project for Sydney and particularly Western Sydney. It was only just a couple of weeks ago that we opened up the next stage of WestConnex, which was the M4 tunnel from Homebush to Haberfield. It's a 5.5-kilometre tunnel and an absolute game changer for people in Western Sydney. It means that if you're sitting in Parramatta, or further afield, today and you want to travel into the city—

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

What's the cost? Tell them how much money it will cost.

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Macarthur is warned.

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

you will now be able to avoid 22 sets of traffic lights. It will save you 20 minutes each way on that journey. I know the member for Reid is a great supporter of this particular project. If you decide to take Parramatta Road instead of taking the tunnel—and that's your choice—it is estimated that 50 per cent of the traffic will be removed from Parramatta Road as a result of this tunnel. That's the type of game-changing infrastructure that we are building, completing and opening, and we have all sorts of other projects underway.

Again, I refer back to what the Labor Party said in relation to this project. They couldn't get it done. Do you know what the now Leader of the Opposition said when he was shadow minister for transport? He said, 'If we're in government and I'm the transport minister, I won't put a cent into that project.' Do you know why he said that? He said, 'We're not going to do that because that is a road to nowhere.' That's what he said. This is a road which goes from the Sydney CBD into Western Sydney, to Parramatta, and he said that was a road to nowhere. We on this side of the House don't think Western Sydney is nowhere. The member for Reid certainly does not think that Western Sydney is nowhere. That is the type of attitude which the inner-city latte set sitting on the opposition benches have about Western Sydney. They think it's nowhere, so they wouldn't have put a cent into that project.

There are all of these great projects underway, getting going and in the planning phrase. They are game-changing projects: the Western Sydney Airport, the Melbourne Airport rail link, the Monash Rail, WestConnex—you name it. They are projects which the Labor Party could not deliver in their long six years in government but which we are getting going. And we've got more. The member for Ballarat mentioned a ripper project in Victoria, and that is the East West Link. By gosh, we want to see that project done. We've got the money on the table. The state government doesn't have to put in a cent. I know that everybody in the eastern suburbs wants that project done, as everybody in Perth wants Roe 8 and Roe 9 done. They want that road done as well. We are getting on with the job— (Time expired)

3:33 pm

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

It's always a pleasure to follow Minister Tudge! On this occasion, as on many others, I've got to give him full marks for enthusiasm, but we cannot give him a pass for content. This seems to be everything that is wrong with the government's attitude to infrastructure. It's all about rhetoric but, when you scratch the surface, the reality exposes pretty much everything they say and everything that Minister Tudge has said. One of the things I found very interesting in his contribution was his series of references to 'commentators', because it seems that his main interest in being the minister for infrastructure is being the commentator on his own performance. He really enjoys this. And that's fair enough, because there are very few experts who are going to give him or his government any credit.

So I rise to support this matter of public importance today because the Morrison government—in particular, the minister—is failing to properly invest in infrastructure. This matters. It's holding back productivity growth in our economy, especially in our cities. The minister has that responsibility in his title, yet he fails to recognise, as does the Deputy Prime Minister, that taking action to meaningfully bust congestion in our cities is the best thing we can do to boost productivity growth. But, of course, this is about more than just productivity growth, as the member for Ballarat knows and all my colleagues understand; it's about the quality of life for too many Australians.

Mr Tudge interjecting

After all the excitement you injected, Minister Tudge, I can understand that they are just taking on board what you said. The thing is, Minister, that, after you talked such a big game about infrastructure and busting congestion—busting congestion in marginal government-held seats, not in the north of Melbourne, not in the west of Melbourne and certainly not in Ballarat—during the election campaign, Australians remain concerned, and rightly so, by the government's reluctance to bring forward infrastructure investment to stimulate a sluggish economy and to bust congestion.

The minister today and in the media keeps banging on about his $100 billion figure, but funding as a percentage of GDP over the forward estimates has actually dropped. It has dropped, Minister. In fact, less than 30 per cent of the so-called $100 billion 10-year infrastructure program is budgeted for the next four years. This follows the dismal record of spending $5.1 billion or less on infrastructure than the government promised over the first six years. We are going backwards when it comes to infrastructure investment, under this minister. And today we are reminded that Australians are struggling with lengthy commute times. The government, despite its rhetoric, isn't helping. The HILDA data shows that Australians are spending on average 4.5 hours a week getting to and from work—an increase of 23 per cent since 2002. It's time for Minister Tudge to bring forward investment in infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy and actually bust congestion, rather than just talk about it in such a self-satisfied and offensive manner.

I did find it interesting earlier listening to the minister in question time talking up the North East Link. I was glad to hear you talk about the North East Link, Minister. It's a good project that was brought forward by the Andrews state Labor government—a $16 billion project. It's a $16 billion project, Minister. But the minister said in question time that his government's commitment to it is $1.8 billion—$1.8 billion towards a $16 billion project—yet the minister was in here gloating like he was personally responsible for the project. Minister, perhaps you should thank Daniel Andrews and Minister Allan for their work and for giving you something to talk about. But it's more than that with this minister and this government. Australians are deeply frustrated by the attitude of the government and the constant short-termism in the infrastructure debate.

Our establishment of Infrastructure Australia was a structural reform which could and should have broken the cycle—the problem in the cycle between the election cycle and the infrastructure cycle—but the government have ripped up this rule book, they've ripped up this consensus, such that as many as 39 of 45 of the congestion-busting projects the minister likes to talk about, announced during the campaign, are flowing to Liberal-held marginal seats. This will only be compounded by the gutting of the Building the Australia Fund. When it comes to infrastructure, this is a government that is only concerned with short-term political advantage, not about the national interest.

So it's time for the minister to stop congratulating himself. It's time for him to get on with the job of fixing up an institutional framework, a policy framework, that can get this right. The debate about infrastructure is too important to be politicised in this manner. It's too important to be reliant on the short-term fixes and the budget trickery of this government and this minister. It's time for a government that will actually take the infrastructure needs of Australia seriously.

3:38 pm

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a great opportunity to stand at the despatch box and talk about this government's infrastructure achievements in regional Australia. The Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure rightly pointed out the infrastructure projects that are happening across our capital cities. But we must not forget the lion's share of infrastructure investment being spent in regional areas. This government is absolutely committed to the infrastructure that regional communities need.

There's $5.2 billion leaving our pockets through the Roads to Recovery Program from 2013-14 out to 2023 for local roads, appropriating directly to local government so that they can make those infrastructure priorities at their doorstep in their communities. There's an additional $804 million through the Black Spots Program, which is saving lives—an additional $110 million per year from 2021-22 delivering those much-needed safety barriers and street lighting and upgrades of sections of dangerous roads that need attention. There's an extra $2.6 billion through the Community Development Grants Program that has been rolled out from 2013-14 through to 2025-26.

Between 1 July 2013 and now, there has been no less than $16.2 billion spent on land transport infrastructure projects in New South Wales alone. To date, that has resulted in 71 projects being completed, and a further 51 are underway. So this government is getting on with the job in the state of New South Wales. In Victoria, $6.4 billion worth of projects have been completed. Of the projects the government has committed to, 50 are being completed and a further 49 are either under construction or in the planning phase. In South Australia, over the same period, there has been $3.5 billion spent on land transport infrastructure projects. There have been 11 projects completed, and 20 are underway or in planning. In Western Australia, there has been $5.3 billion spent. There have been 22 projects completed, and a further 31 are underway.

In Queensland, my home state, there has been $25.6 billion of funding spent on land transport infrastructure projects between 1 July 2013 and now. That $25.6 billion is part of our $100 billion commitment. We were at a $75 billion commitment on infrastructure. We noticed the importance of that to driving the economy, driving jobs, driving growth and getting those economic corridors right, so we increased that to $100 billion. In those outward years, Queensland's share of that is that $25.6 billion. To date, we have spent $9 billion on transport infrastructure in Queensland, with 84 projects delivered and a further 94 underway.

Our record speaks for itself. In the coming months, I look forward to opening part of one of the most significant inland road infrastructure projects in Australia's history—the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing. That is a $1.7 billion project to which we committed 80 per cent of the funding. These projects do not get off the ground unless governments are in a strong economic position and can co-fund the projects with state governments to make sure these major pieces of infrastructure are opened. There is a new stretch of road—41 kilometres—that will bypass the city of Toowoomba. That will take out of the community no fewer than 24,600 vehicle movements a day, of which 4,400 are heavy vehicles—large trucks. And I note that 80 per cent of these—3½ thousand people—are expected to divert around the Toowoomba range crossing. It will be a magnificent piece of infrastructure. It fills me with a sense of pride when we drive up to Toowoomba: you can see the viaducts, which weren't there years ago. It is going to save lives. Lives were lost on the old piece of infrastructure, which could be described as a death trap.

In Queensland this morning The Courier Mail reported that the tolls for that road had been advertised. The tolls are $2.30 for a car, $5.70 for a commercial vehicle and $22.85 for a truck. That is much less than what was anticipated by the private sector. In coming to office, we have committed that we will invest another $10 billion in infrastructure on the Bruce Highway. All this infrastructure in Queensland is being rolled out whilst this government is delivering record investment in health and record investment in education. We as a government are delivering. We can do it because we have a strong government and we have our expenditure under control. We are the government that will deliver infrastructure into the future.

3:43 pm

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on this matter of public importance, which is very close to my heart. Certainly the people of my electorate of Macarthur feel very deeply the lack of infrastructure provided by this federal government and also by the New South Wales government. I can talk very well about the Western Sydney Airport. I well remember the debates about the site of the Western Sydney Airport going back to the Fraser government in the 1970s. Many governments, of both persuasions, have over the years had a degree of responsibility for not providing the definitive site for the Western Sydney Airport.

I do think it is a very good thing that this government has finalised the site and work is underway. And I have been out to see the earthworks going ahead. But what I would say is that, unless this government provides proper public transport to the new Western Sydney Airport, it will not be a successful airport. Every infrastructure person, every town planner, every transport planner believes that the Leppington line, the link to Sydney and South Western Sydney, should open when the Western Sydney Airport opens. The corridor is already preserved yet this government, time and time again, has denied that development, which must occur if the airport is to be successful.

People of Macarthur are sick of the lack of provision for this, because this is the one line that will connect my community to the great benefits that the Western Sydney Airport could offer in terms of jobs, transport and freight and in terms of connecting to the Kingsford Smith airport and Greater Sydney. So, it has to happen. Everyone agrees that it does. But this government just denies it time and time again. Its motives for doing this are unclear to me. I suspect it's because it wants to provide infrastructure in the Liberal and conservative-held electorates to the north. But it is doing nothing for Western Sydney and South Western Sydney, and it's an absolute disgrace.

Those opposite seem to be a little bit misguided when it comes to infrastructure in Western Sydney and South Western Sydney. They're delivering the square root of absolutely bugger all yet they talk themselves up time and time again. Members would do well to note the previous Labor government's achievements in delivering infrastructure. It was the former Labor government that increased the annual investment in our nation's transport, energy, telecommunications and water infrastructure, with it having doubled from $29 billion to $57.7 billion by the end of the Rudd government.

Under this government, we've had two ministers for infrastructure—the member for Aston and the member for Riverina—who have delivered nothing. One could be forgiven for thinking that the coalition took the notion of delivering infrastructure seriously, given the portfolio is so well represented in the ministry and by the Prime Minister's friends yet in actual fact they are delivering nothing. The Prime Minister and his front bench talked a big game in infrastructure throughout the recent election campaign, but they've left us waiting, with very little information, on so many projects. They are always talking about it happening in the future, but it's not happening. Less than 30 per cent of the government's so-called $100 billion 10-year infrastructure program is budgeted for the next four years.

We also desperately need a number of infrastructure projects in my electorate, not just the rail link to Western Sydney Airport. In the last 20 years almost 40 people have been killed on Appin Road in my electorate, along with terrible motor vehicle accidents that have left many in my community grieving. Time and time again we've requested action from this government and the New South Wales Berejiklian government. What have they done? Absolutely nothing. It's shameful. They are letting the people of Macarthur and the Illawarra die on this road with their complete inaction and ignorance of the problem.

Thousands and thousands of people have moved into my electorate on the basis of rapidly developing new suburbs, whose names even I can't remember—suburb after suburb—yet there is no public transport infrastructure. It is absolutely disgraceful. Developers are ripping literally billions of dollars from the allowed new developments in my electorate. Over 30,000 new people have moved into my electorate since the 2016 election, yet there is no public transport infrastructure.

Our schools, built in the fifties and sixties, are disgraceful—please see my previous speeches about this—yet nothing is being done. The NBN is a disgrace. There are large areas that can't get coverage.

3:48 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a pleasure to rise to speak on this MPI. What's particularly clear from the minister for urban infrastructure's speech is that this government, the Morrison government, is the one that's on the side of delivering infrastructure. It's on the side of Australian families—to get them home sooner and safer. In contrast, what is clear is that the roadblock to better, less congested roads is the Labor Party. The roadblock to families getting home sooner and safer is the Labor Party.

The member for Ballarat stood up and talked about timing. I thought it was an incredible contrast, because it was just last week that I was in the electorate looking at a brand new federally funded facility that is helping to ease congestion locally. It wasn't a big project. It was one of these local urban congestion projects, with $3 million from the federal government. It has been funded, built and delivered, and has now reduced congestion for hundreds of families around the local school, from 45 minutes down to just seven minutes.

While the Morrison government is out there delivering for the families of Ryan, in contrast the Labor Party have been dragged kicking and screaming when it comes to infrastructure. When I was out there during the previous election campaign, I had no less than the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure himself and the Prime Minister himself come and drive on one of the most congested road corridors in the electorate, the Moggill Road corridor. This is a corridor that, because of the Labor state government's inaction, is now No. 1 for delay costs in the whole of Queensland. Over a million dollars is lost in delay costs per kilometre per year on that corridor. Both the minister and the Prime Minister drove that corridor, and, as a result, there is funding in the budget for two projects on that particular corridor, the Indooroopilly roundabout and the Kenmore roundabout. In contrast, it was in the last week of the election campaign that the Labor candidate decided to stick up their head and suddenly match all our promises, as if they'd suddenly just discovered that infrastructure and getting families home sooner and safer was important to local families. It is this government, the Morrison government, driving that.

It's no better illustrated than in Queensland, where the Labor state government is the absolute handbrake on infrastructure. They have the lowest infrastructure spending, well below the decade-long average. But even when they don't have to put in any money, like with Brisbane Metro, a fully funded project by the Brisbane City Council with $300 million on the table from this Morrison government, they still can't get out of the way. If the member for Ballarat would like to hunt somebody down, it should be Mark Bailey, because after more than 270 meetings with the Brisbane City Council, who are trying to get on with delivering this project so that people can get home to their families sooner and safer on public transport when it's fully funded, Labor Minister Bailey still can't make the decision to get out of the way and let us spend this money on important infrastructure. Perhaps our best chance is to find a good investment property for the Deputy Premier to purchase on the route; that might finally kickstart it. It's clear that the only plan Labor had in Queensland to fund infrastructure was to await an inevitable Shorten government, which would then invest in their pet project, Cross River Rail. Instead, they're left holding the bag.

On top of that is the fact that these projects are possible because we know how to manage the economy. We know how to manage money in the Morrison government. That's how we can continue to make investments in local infrastructure projects. We're getting on with the job of funding local infrastructure projects in the Ryan electorate, like the Indooroopilly roundabout, with $25 million to get that project out of the too-hard basket and get it going. The federal government can really add value to reducing urban congestion by getting some of these projects out of the too-hard basket and getting them going. We're able to get the project underway at the Indooroopilly roundabout because we've got a strong partnership with the LNP-held Brisbane City Council. In contrast, the other local project we've got in the Ryan electorate is the Kenmore roundabout. There is $12.5 million on the table from this federal government. We're waiting for the Labor state minister, Minister Bailey, to get out of the way, come to the table and help us get that project under way.

3:53 pm

Photo of Kate ThwaitesKate Thwaites (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's so important that I rise to talk about this issue today, because our national economy is clearly showing signs of slowing down. The warning signs are clear. Wages are stagnant. Median household income is going backwards. Living standards are declining. There are increasing levels of insecure work, underemployment and youth unemployment. Yet listening to this government today you'd think there was no problem at all. I remind those on the other side that they're the third-term government, they have two ministers for infrastructure and they need to get their act together.

They need to get their act together because the people in my electorate of Jagajaga are worried about the future, worried about their wages, worried about their jobs and worried that, no matter how hard they work, they just can't seem to get ahead. I certainly heard that loud and clear as the Labor candidate for Jagajaga, and now as the federal member.

The people of Jagajaga noticed during the election campaign that the Liberal Party did not make a single commitment in Jagajaga.

Photo of Patrick GormanPatrick Gorman (Perth, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Not one!

Photo of Kate ThwaitesKate Thwaites (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Not one that would boost local infrastructure, increase our transport options or create any jobs at all. They certainly noticed that Victoria has seen barely any of the national infrastructure spend from the federal government for the past six years. Funnily enough, the current minister for infrastructure is Victorian; you'd think that would count for something. Clearly not!

Victoria will only receive 17 per cent of the federal infrastructure budget in 2019-20, despite being home to 25 per cent of Australians. This is outrageous! As we've heard from my Victorian colleagues today, Victorians are lucky that we have a Victorian Labor government that has invested so heavily in roads, rail and removing level crossings. The minister was just crowing about the North East Link. The people of Jagajaga know that this project will be delivered thanks to the Andrews Labor government. North East Link, the removal of the level crossing at Lower Plenty Road in Rosanna, the Melbourne Metro project, the Hurstbridge line duplication and the historic Suburban Rail Loop project are all huge examples of what is happening under the Victorian Labor government. We are not seeing anything like this level of investment from Canberra—and I will let the minister know that it's Rosanna Road, not Rosanna Drive!

Of course, the chorus of those now calling for urgent action is not reserved to the Labor benches. The Reserve Bank, economists and state governments—even state coalition treasurers—have implored the government to urgently lift infrastructure to give our economy the shot in the arm it badly needs. We do need to fast-track infrastructure projects now to stimulate this sluggish economy, to create jobs and to reduce our commute times.

They've talked a big game on infrastructure, but many major projects are still off on the never-never. And in Victoria they continue to include the East West Link project, which the Victorian government and the community have not supported at two consecutive state elections, as evidence of action. Less than 30 per cent of the government's so-called $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure program is budgeted for the next four years. It doesn't add up; it's a con. They include projects like the East West Link, and it will not proceed. In their six years in government they've spent less on infrastructure than they promised. Projects have been announced but delayed, postponed or cancelled.

Of course, the data released today in the HILDA survey confirms just how poorly they are failing when it comes to busting congestion. We see now that Australians are spending on average 4½ hours a week getting to and from work. That's a rise of 23 per cent since 2002. That's parents who are sitting in traffic rather than spending time with their children. Too many Australians are facing longer commutes, with one in six Australians now travelling more than two hours each day, up from one in eight in 2002.

So today I call on the government to bring forward funding for infrastructure projects in Victoria to stimulate the economy, to improve safety and to boost productivity. If the government were serious about big congestion-busting projects it would get on with work in Victoria. The people of Jagajaga are sick of the spin. They see through the con. They know they're sitting in traffic for too long. They want to be home with their children, not stuck on the road. They want action; they want real improvements in their lives and they see through this government that is failing to deliver for them.

I call on the government to put in the proper level of spending to deliver for the people of Jagajaga, for the people of Melbourne—our fastest-growing city—and for Victoria.

3:58 pm

Photo of Fiona MartinFiona Martin (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The opposition today is making the completely false claim that the coalition government has underdelivered on infrastructure. But it cannot be ignored that this year's April budget brought total infrastructure expenditure by the coalition government up to $100 billion over 10 years. The coalition government is investing in infrastructure, from small black spots to major motorways and from soccer goals to sporting amenity upgrades on projects in regional areas and in urban electorates such as my own in the inner west of Sydney. Only recently, I joined the Deputy Prime Minister and the New South Wales Premier to open a core piece of infrastructure in my electorate: the first stage of WestConnex. This piece of infrastructure was possible only because of the coalition government's commitment of $1.5 billion and providing a concessional loan of $2 billion. This infrastructure will be getting residents of Reid home sooner and safer, residents of the broader Sydney area home to their families and, significantly, will be providing a new connection between Sydney's eastern CBD and the emerging western CBD. The later stages of WestConnex will link Sydney's western suburbs to Sydney Airport as well as diverting trucks off the very busy Parramatta Road.

In the 2019-20 budget we're providing $2.2 billion over 10 years for a local and state government road safety package. This includes a major boost to the Black Spot Program, which targets safety issues on urban and regional roads, and additional funding to the Roads to Recovery Program, which supports vital road maintenance to local governments. Though some of these projects seem quite small on paper, a new roundabout or road surfacing can have a huge impact on a local community.

In my electorate of Reid it's the back roads used by commuters that see the greatest benefit from these programs. Earlier this year the Morrison government committed $50 million from the $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund towards improvements to Homebush Bay Drive. This will improve safety and traffic flow on an arterial roadway that carries traffic from north of the Parramatta River to South Sydney. The Urban Congestion Fund will also deliver upgrades to the very busy King Georges Road in the electorate of Banks and $50 million for key commuter carparks across Sydney.

The Western Sydney Airport will open up new opportunities for businesses, for jobs and for trade. That reflects a $5.3 billion investment by the Morrison government, creating 50,000 jobs. Careful fiscal management has allowed the coalition to invest millions of dollars into Reid's local sporting infrastructure via the Community Development Program, including improvements to facilities at Strathfield Park, to netball facilities at Cintra Park, to rugby facilities at Goddard Park and to AFL facilities at Timbrell Park, all in my electorate. As a mother and a psychologist I know how important sport is to a child's development, not just social and emotional but physical as well. This investment in local sporting infrastructure will allow more children to get involved in team sports.

We also have the Stronger Communities Program with round 5 opening up next week. This program is hugely popular in Reid because it allows even our smallest community groups to improve their infrastructure and build their capacity to offer support and programs to our local community groups such as the Embroiderers Guild New South Wales and Eurella Community Services as well as Scouts groups, sporting groups, Lions groups and Rotary clubs, who all benefit from this funding.

Nationally over 7,700 programs have been funded since the establishment of the Stronger Communities Program. I can't wait to work with community groups and not-for-profit organisations in Reid on the next round in the coming weeks. Grants from the Stronger Communities Programs, the $22.65 million Communities Environment Program and the $30.2 million Local Schools Community Fund provide tangible local examples of infrastructure grants that have been announced by the Morrison government and that will deliver real benefits to my electorate of Reid and to all electorates across Australia. It's clear that the coalition government is delivering record spending on infrastructure as a result of a strong economy, careful fiscal management— (Time expired)

4:03 pm

Photo of Anika WellsAnika Wells (Lilley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Deputy Speaker Hogan, I think you've been a consistent and supportive presence at each of my speeches in the chamber so far. Thank you for your ongoing support. When I read in business arising in the Federation Chamber yesterday of a motion by the member for Boothby congratulating the government on all of its work on infrastructure funding in the May 2019 budget, I was compelled to run to the Federation Chamber and speak on that very point. You were there, Mr Deputy Speaker. Then today, seeing that the matter of public importance was on, again, the issue of infrastructure and what this government has and has not done, I felt compelled to sprint in my heels to the chamber to speak on this matter. In question time today, the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure spent a fair bit of time lavishly congratulating himself and his peers on their work planning infrastructure, particularly in our cities. I think he spoke at length about congestion busting. But I find that difficult to swallow when today is also the day that we have learned that commuting times are getting worse for everyone in all capital cities across the country, and I know that is true for my constituents in Lilley on Brisbane's north side.

Despite the government lavishing praise upon themselves around congestion busting, we on this side of the chamber are superior at chop busting, so that is what we will have to do in the matter of public importance today. As I did last night in the Federation Chamber, today I will speak in this chamber about how lacking the government's infrastructure plans are on Brisbane's north side, and I will show up anywhere, anytime to debate this issue. But, sadly, I will not be showing up quickly if I have to rely upon the major arterial roads on Brisbane's north side that have been neglected by the government, who have now had six years to get on with work and are entering their third term with nothing new to say for the people of Lilley.

Allow me to take you on a little mental holiday to the majestic tropical north, to Brisbane's north side. I want to speak on two particular projects. The first is at the particular request of the member for Petrie, who asked that I discuss the Gateway Upgrade North project, or the GUN project as we like to call it. I am nothing if not an accommodating and good neighbour, so let us touch on that now. This is a project that was announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan in his last budget, in May 2013. It was recently opened in the months approaching the federal election. So, after being promised by the last Labor government as one of the last major infrastructure projects promised on Brisbane's north side, it was recently opened. I was very happy to note that, and I am glad that the member for Petrie also acknowledges the work of my predecessor, a lion of the Labor movement, Wayne Swan, and his commitment to big nation-building infrastructure projects on Brisbane's north side.

The second project I want to bring up today—and I'm very glad the member for Petrie is here to hear it—is Linkfield Road, which is at centre stage of the government's kabuki theatre with respect to their infrastructure plans for the north side. Linkfield Road is a dangerous choke point and congestion site on Brisbane's north side. It's about two kays beyond the Lilley boundary. If you choose to leave the boundaries of Lilley, you'll be the poorer for it, but if you do you can proceed two kays along Depot Road and approach Telegraph Road, and you'll hit the Linkfield Road intersection. We all agree that this is an important congestion and choke point that needs work. That's why both our side and the government pledged $100 million to fix this intersection.

But, while this was discussed at length during the election campaign, something that did not appear on the LNP election material was the timing of the funding of the $100 million commitment. Something you did not see on the LNP election material was that not a single dollar would arrive for this much-needed, agreed-upon project until the 2026 federal budget. Let me tell you about a couple of other things that will happen by 2026. A child born this year will be in the under-eight soccer team by the time they get to use Linkfield Road to get to their soccer fields. Newlyweds married during the election campaign will be beginning to feel the seven-year itch by the time dollars are laid at Linkfield Road. Children who are starting in grade 1 at Aspley State School, which is probably the nearest school to Linkfield Road, will be in high school; they will be at Aspley State High School. We will have had two Olympics and two Commonwealth Games by the time we hit 2026. (Time expired)

4:08 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's great to talk about infrastructure when we've been through this amazing period of infrastructure being rolled out by the Liberals and Nationals in a coalition government since 2013. In fact, $32.8 billion has rolled down from Canberra out into regional Australia, and that is roads, bridges, water infrastructure, Roads to Recovery, the Black Spot Program and councils. In particular, in the Lyne electorate we have had an infrastructure bonanza.

Before the election was called, I had the pleasure of announcing over $8.5 million from the federal coalition's community development grants fund for public infrastructure that will trigger the development of a $455 million construction project: a master plan aged-care living complex, to kick it all off, on the banks of the Manning River in Taree. At the moment we've got the Forster Civic Precinct build, courtesy of a $6 million grant from the coalition government, which is leading to a massive public works and then a seniors-living complex on the banks of the waterways of Forster—real game changing commitments.

We have the major Pacific Highway upgrade, all the way up between Newcastle and the Queensland border, and that continues apace. There has been over $1 billion worth of work delivered in the time I've been in this parliament on the Pacific Highway upgrade in the Lyne electorate. We have also got other social infrastructure rolling out: new MRI licences for health facilities and funds towards radiotherapy services. We have got amazing expansion of aged-care facilities. Whether in Wauchope, the Manning Valley, the Tea Gardens Precinct or the Lorn-Largs-Bolwarra complex, it goes apace because we have social and physical infrastructure.

I might add that we've had 30 bridges funded and mostly completed in the Lyne electorate, courtesy of our Bridges Renewal Program. In the run-up to the last election I announced $8.6 million for the Brig O'Johnston Bridge replacement, near Clarence Town. That will be a real game changer and lead to the development of a whole new suburban region on the banks of the Williams River in Clarence Town. We have also got $5 million from the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program going into the Bucketts Way upgrade. We announced another $20 million from the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative for the Bucketts Way upgrade. The list goes on. We have got infrastructure in roads and bridges going ahead in leaps and bounds across the Lyne electorate.

Across broader areas, my area and the whole of the North Coast is serviced by the M1 Pacific Motorway. It was really pleasing to see $1.6 billion announced for a 16-kilometre section going from Black Hill, across the Hunter River, over to Raymond Terrace. Those on the other side are criticising it because it's not happening for a couple of years. That is because we don't actually build all these infrastructure projects; we partner with local and state governments. State governments have got to get on board with this. You see the debacle in Victoria, where the Victorian Labor government is blocking all the infrastructure build. You've got the same thing happening in Queensland—again, a Labor government. We are building this massive inland rail—$9 billion worth of work. Where is the hold-up? It's not at the New South Wales or the Victorian end of the build; it's in Queensland. You've got the Second Range Crossing being delivered in Queensland. Around the country there is so much happening.

In the water infrastructure space, we have just passed the Future Drought Fund. We've got over $3.3 billion in funding already being used for a national water infrastructure program and a loan facility, to give extra money to state governments and other private builders of water supplies. Councils have also benefited from extra funds from the Roads to Recovery Program and the Black Spot Program. When you add the sum total of all these extra builds across regional Australia, they are making amazing changes to road safety and to transport, allowing bigger freight and more efficient freight to happen, letting tourism get into the regions, and it's a whole lot safer. (Time expired)

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The discussion has concluded.