Monday, 21 October 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Since coming to office, the government has spent a total of $5 billion less on infrastructure than it promised, including $123 million less than it promised on black spots. Why?
As members opposite would know, the program and schedule of projects which the government pursues is one that is put together in partnership with the states and territories as we seek to implement that plan. And, indeed, even if it's with local government on projects that we pursue, our job is to ensure that we provide the allocation of the funds, set the priority projects, and sit down with the state and territory governments. Those opposite would know and particularly the Leader of the Opposition would know, from his time when he served as a minister for infrastructure, that the scheduling of projects is set out together with the states and territories, and the profile for the delivery of those projects is often revised based on the advice provided by the states and territories. That is why the changes in the schedule arrive as they have.
Now I make this point, though: under our government, this year, we will spend about $10 billion on infrastructure. That is what is budgeted to be spent in this very financial year all around the country. Now, that's almost double what we inherited from the Labor Party when we came to government. The Leader of the Opposition, who sits at the table now, had committed, from memory—and I would be happy to stand corrected on this figure—around $6 billion.
This year, we're spending $10 billion or thereabouts, just slightly less than that, and the reason we're doing that is because, two budgets ago, we decided to put in place the $75 billion pipeline of projects over 10 years. In the last budget, recognising the difficult situation that we're facing in the global economy, we increased that pipeline of investments over the next 10 years to $100 billion. We upped it, because we knew that's what the Australian economy would need, not just now, but over the next 10 years. More important than that, we have the budget discipline to back those sorts of commitments up. So the reason for any change in schedules is not a lack of fiscal capacity or discipline because of this government; any changes to scheduling is in relation to our negotiations with the states and territories.
We know that, when those opposite are in government, the reason they cut defence spending, the reason they don't list pharmaceuticals, the reason they have to strike flood levies and all of those sorts of things is that they never know how to manage money. That is why at the last election Australians knew they could trust this government to deliver—because they know they can trust us to manage money.