House debates

Monday, 22 November 2021


Infrastructure Funding

12:00 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that:

(a) over the past eight years of this Government, infrastructure funding to areas of growth has been neglected;

(b) as revealed in September's Final Budget Outcome there has been another 12 months of broken infrastructure promises from the Government, with infrastructure spending totalling $656.5 million less than was promised; and

(c) over eight long years of this Government, its infrastructure broken promises now total an incredible $7.4 billion;

(2) recognises that this lack of funding has resulted in fewer roads, fewer public transport upgrades, longer commutes, less time at home and fewer jobs for Australians who need them; and

(3) calls on the Government to provide adequate funding to infrastructure projects and build the roads and rail that Australians actually need.

I'm moving this motion today because nowhere can the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government's neglect on infrastructure funding be seen more than in the area I represent, the federal seat of Lalor. For eight long years, the people I represent have been ignored by members opposite, and our local infrastructure is struggling to keep up with population growth. But this story is not confined to Lalor and is repeated nationwide for growth areas. I'm sure there will be many other examples to come from the speakers following me today.

In the last 12 months alone, the Morrison government has failed to deliver over half a billion dollars in infrastructure funding, and, over the eight long years of this government, its broken infrastructure promises now total an incredible $7.4 billion. These broken promises result in fewer road programs, fewer public transport options and longer commutes. In Wyndham, that is not just about time on the M1; it's also about time crossing our city for school, for child care, for shopping, for sport, to visit family, to care for the elderly. Meanwhile, media reports tell us the Morrison government has been using taxpayer funds to shore up Liberal and National seats with projects that don't stack up on need or, indeed, on value for money.

Wyndham, the centre of the seat of Lalor, is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and the fastest growing region in Victoria. Wyndham's population has increased by 75,000 since 2016 and is forecast to hit 300,000 at the end of this year. While this population growth has been phenomenal to see—as someone who has lived in Werribee my entire life, I've watched it go from a country town between Melbourne and Geelong to a large city in the outer suburbs—our local infrastructure is struggling to keep up with federal funding for local projects. From what I can find, the only major road or rail infrastructure project this government has funded that will benefit my community is a $150 million upgrade for the M80—and that was when Tony Abbott was Prime Minister.

This stands in stark contrast to when Labor was last in office, when the Leader of the Opposition was Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and when over $4.1 billion was invested in major projects that benefited locals that I represent. It's because only Labor invests in the west. This is shown by the commitment to our local community from the Victorian Labor government, who are investing in better public transport options, removing level crossings and improving intersections. They invested $1.2 billion in improving local roads, and they're building the West Gate tunnel, giving people from the west alternatives to the West Gate Bridge.

As I previously explained, Wyndham's growth has been phenomenal, with an increase of around six per cent a year, year on year on year. Some forecasts suggest Wyndham will hit half a million residents in the next 20 years. Seventy per cent of this growth is happening in the suburbs of Tarneit, Truganina, Wyndham Vale and Werribee. We need to build the infrastructure now to support the new residents already living in Wyndham and those who will be joining us, and the best way to do this is for the federal government to fund the Wyndham Westlink.

There are currently three road river crossings in Wyndham. One, by the way, was closed last week due to flooding. They're all within two kilometres of one another. This project would provide a fourth, vital crossing of the Werribee River, linking Armstrong Road in Wyndham Vale and Sayers Road in Tarneit. A trip between Tarneit and Wyndham Vale on Labor's Regional Rail Link takes seven minutes, but locals have reported to me that the same trip by car can take 45 minutes in peak hour and bring thousands of cars onto the Shaws Road bridge. The Wyndham Westlink will also build an overpass over the railway at Ison Road, connecting the fast-growing Wyndham Vale, Manor Lakes and Werribee suburbs to the Princes Freeway. This will help locals living in these growth suburbs and travelling into the heart of our city to gain access to the freeway. This project is vital. It will connect our growing suburbs and ease congestion in the heart of our city.

I urge all locals who want their fair share from the Morrison government to head to my website and sign the petition. In just a few days it has had great uptake, and social media posts have shown great support and discussion amongst locals. This project is vital. It's time for the Morrison government to get on board with it. It's time for the Morrison Liberal government to stop playing politics on infrastructure funding and deliver where it's needed, not where it's politically convenient.

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

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

12:05 pm

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

When I first read this motion, I had to read it a couple of times. Originally, I thought the member was referring to the Queensland Labor state government. It describes them to an absolute T. We're very keen on this side of the chamber to stand by our record on delivering infrastructure. We hope that Labor will continue to take up the issue of infrastructure right up until the election so that we can spend a lot of time explaining to Australians just how much this government has delivered in new infrastructure and nation-building projects over the term.

Queenslanders, particularly in my electorate of Ryan, see the stark contrast between what the Morrison coalition government is delivering in terms of projects on the ground, money and getting them home sooner and safer and what the Queensland Labor government has failed to deliver over decades in the western suburbs of Brisbane. Since 2013-14, the coalition government has committed $175 billion in infrastructure funding across our nation. We know that maths isn't a strong point of those Labor members opposite. But I am certain they couldn't have missed an investment of that significance in our nation's infrastructure to create jobs and get people home to their families sooner and safer.

In the 2020-21 financial year, the Australian government achieved over 95 per cent of what was a historically ambitious infrastructure investment for our nation, and we did it at a time when we had incredible challenges relating not only to the natural environment of floods and bushfires but also to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowhere is it starker in contrast to the electorate of Ryan and how this government is rolling out infrastructure versus how Labor, particularly at the state level, is holding it up. It ends up falling to the federal government and other LNP administrations to do the heavy lifting.

Since the last election, in the electorate of Ryan in the western suburbs of Brisbane, I have secured for my community $230 million in infrastructure funding to upgrade local roads to get you home to your families sooner and safer. I know there is nothing more frustrating than sitting in traffic when you would rather be home with your family. It is an issue that is raised with me most consistently in the community. People want to see the infrastructure problems that we have in the western suburbs tackled after decades of neglect by the state Labor government.

Right across the electorate of Ryan, because of that $230 million commitment, we are seeing hoarding and fencing going up and construction underway. The residents in the gap are seeing the new Gresham Street bridge being built, with upgraded traffic lights, wider and safer pedestrian access and improved flood resilience. This is a connection that is used by over 2,850 vehicles a day. It was put in the too-hard basket for a long time. But, again, it's federal funding that has allowed the LNP local council to kickstart this project.

Our Black Spot Program is delivering important safety upgrades right around the electorate. The Sir Fred Schonell Drive and Coldridge Street project in St Lucia, which is a project that I announced alongside the member for Riverina, is now underway and almost complete. Of course, the notorious Indooroopilly roundabout is well underway, with demolition having occurred to the car dealership onsite, the asbestos being removed, and the contract for significant construction works to commence early in the new year. We got through all the consultation on that. We got through all the community discussions. We got through awarding contracts and going out to tender, and we're now starting construction, just a few short years after we promised the funding at the last election, despite COVID and despite everything else. The common factor in all of that is funding from the Morrison coalition government, combined with the LNP led Brisbane City Council, who are keen to take our money and put it into action to yield positive results for residents on the ground.

Contrast that with the other project that we've got in the area, which is the Kenmore roundabout. At the same time when we promised money for the Indooroopilly roundabout, we promised money for this, but it's in the hands of the state Labor government. It's been over 750 days since the Queensland state government matched our funding, and they've done nothing. It's been 190 days since they finished the community consultation, and we've heard nothing. What we really need to deliver infrastructure in the western suburbs is for Labor to get on and get with the program.

12:10 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications and Cyber Security) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lalor for moving this important motion, and I'm proud to speak in support of it. In the last days of the 2019 federal election, a desperate Prime Minister announced that a re-elected Morrison government would invest in Melbourne's west through a city deal with the region. Now, nearly 1,000 days later, with the next federal election imminent, he still hasn't delivered. This Prime Minister has an announcement for every occasion, but he always goes missing when it comes time to deliver. He's the travelling salesman Prime Minister: he pops up, makes an announcement and then moves on. He's like the bloke you meet on the beach in Bali offering to sell you a genuine Rolex and promising that he'll send the warranty in the mail.

This Prime Minister isn't a PM for all Australians. He's only interested in Australians who have something to offer him. If you live in a Liberal electorate or in a marginal seat, this Prime Minister has billions of dollars of pork-barrelling and rorts for you, but when it comes to the growth areas in electorates like mine in Melbourne's west, the Morrison government just doesn't care. Those areas don't show up in the Prime Minister for Sydney's political priorities.

The Andrews Labor government in Victoria is doing its bit to fund and deliver infrastructure for the people in Melbourne's west. I see it in my electorate every day, with $1.5 billion for the biggest investment in health infrastructure in Victoria's history, the new Footscray Hospital; the multibillion-dollar West Gate Tunnel project; and new schools being built and level crossings being removed across the electorate. When Labor was last in power federally, we worked with the Victorian government to deliver new infrastructure for Melbourne's west. The Regional Rail Link project, a $4.7 billion project, and the $11 billion Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel were transformative investments in the public transport infrastructure of Melbourne's west.

When the Morrison-Joyce government is refusing to work with the Victorian government to deliver the city deal that it promised Melbourne's west during the last federal election, media announcements from the Morrison government aren't worth the paper they are written on. My constituents can't use a media conference to get to work. They can't use a press release to get to school. They need real infrastructure. They need a PM who delivers, not just announces. Yet the Prime Minister asks my constituents who they trust to deliver for them!

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments have abandoned Melbourne's west. Under this government, we've seen manufacturing jobs in my community decimated. We lost 2½ thousand manufacturing jobs when Toyota closed manufacturing after the Abbott government dared the car industry to leave Australia. We lost 1,500 jobs at the Williamstown shipyards, which closed under this government. Earlier this year, we lost over 300 jobs when the Altona refinery closed, despite the incompetent Minister Taylor saying that he would save refinery jobs in Australia. In May, more than 150 jobs were lost at Qenos. In spite of this, underlining how arrogant and out of touch this PM is, two weeks ago, he chose the Toyota Altona site for a desperate media announcement, attempting to distance himself from his own ridiculous scare campaign on electric vehicles during the 2019 election.

Melbourne's west is sick of being taken for granted by this Prime Minister for Sydney. It won't forget how it was abandoned by this government during the pandemic and it won't forget how it was abandoned by the policies of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments for eight long years. For my constituents, 2021 was a lost year, because of this government's failures on vaccines and quarantine. The eight long years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government have been wasted years for Melbourne's west, through the neglect of this government. The people of Melbourne's west deserve a government that's on their side. They need an Albanese Labor government to deliver roads and rail investment, not just announce it. They need an Albanese Labor government to secure jobs and a future made in Australia.

Only Labor understands how vital it is to build a diverse economy and ensure that we generate secure, permanent, full-time jobs for Australians to make things here. Only Labor will provide a $15 billion national reconstruction fund to rebuild manufacturing capacity in Australia that has been lost over the last eight years, because Labor believes that the next decade should be the one where we make things at home here again, with Australian workers, Australian resources and Australian ingenuity. An Albanese Labor government will ensure that the transport infrastructure of the future will feature more Australian jobs in the supply chain. It will be an incredible opportunity to rejuvenate the manufacturing sector and the manufacturing jobs of Melbourne's west. We will create a national rail manufacturing plan to identify and optimise the opportunities to build trains here. We'll train thousands of workers by ensuring that one in 10 workers on major government projects is an apprentice, a trainee or a cadet—skills for Australian workers of the next generation—and we'll ensure that the working families in Melbourne's west have a better life by making child care cheaper, tackling wage growth and helping to close the gender pay gap. The next federal election can't come soon enough for my constituents.

12:15 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

r VASTA () (): I rise today to bust the myths of this motion and to speak on the infrastructure investment commitments our government has made and is making right across our country. Our government hears the needs of Australians, and we respond. That is why, during this year's budget, we made it clear that we were building the infrastructure our country needs for the future, with our 10-year, $110 billion investment pipeline for better roads, faster commutes and, most importantly, making sure Australians can get home sooner and more safely. We've also invested a further $1 billion in road safety upgrades to save lives and a further $1 billion in local road infrastructure projects.

In my electorate of Bonner, our government is delivering for locals. In September I went to see the upgrades to the M1 between Sports Drive and the Gateway Motorway, thanks to the $110 billion investment pipeline. This is a 3.5-kilometre upgrade which is part of the broader $750 million, eight-kilometre M1 Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill project. By alleviating congestion along critical sections of roads like this one, we're helping freight more and more between our cities and we're generating jobs across the country.

I'm especially proud of my ongoing partnership with the Brisbane City Council and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner. Working together for our community, we have a strong track record of upgrading local roads and building a better Brisbane. Last month the lord mayor and I visited some of the works currently underway. My electorate is home to Newnham Road and Wecker Road, whose intersection is rated by the RACQ as the fifth most dangerous in Queensland. There is great urgency within the community to fix this problem area, and I was proud to secure $12 million in funding for this project, which will be delivered by the Brisbane City Council. It will involve the construction of new turning lanes, signalised pedestrian crossings, improved footpaths and the coordination of traffic lights.

Our government, with the Brisbane City Council, is also contributing to the Brisbane Metro project. This is a major project, and one that is strongly aligned with our plan to reduce emissions. We are contributing $300 million to this vital project, with construction of a new depot facility currently underway at School Road in Rochedale in my electorate. The depot will provide storage for the new battery electric Brisbane Metro fleet, advanced charging infrastructure, maintenance and staff facilities. Brisbane Metro will have four stops in Bonner. With transport being one of the major sources of carbon emissions, this project demonstrates the importance of working with all levels of government to reduce our footprint across the country. It is fantastic to see our government leading these initiatives and forging the way for a cleaner and greener public transport system.

The last time I spoke on the Lindum crossing in this House, I was pleased to share the long-awaited upgrades that were getting underway. I've been fighting for this upgrade since 2017, when over 7,000 locals in Bonner signed my petition to fix the Lindum crossing. We were successful in 2019, with the federal government committing $85 million to this worthy project. Brisbane City Council have also come to the table, with $40 million to fix the Lindum crossing. This month we commenced the first stages of the immediate safety upgrades to the crossing, thanks to $1 million from our federal funds. These works will include the installation of new and extended median islands, as well as new on-road line markings and resurfacing. This weekend there are scheduled upgrades to the rail corridor. This first stage is critical to ensuring the crossing is safe for all our community while more extensive planning can be undertaken for the long-term grade separation of Lindum crossing. We are monitoring this vital project and we're fixing Lindum once and for all.

What is more important is working alongside Brisbane City Council, because we've also started construction on the Chelsea Road and Rickertt Road intersection upgrade and the Wakerley bikeway project in Ransome. I was very pleased to secure $6 million in funding for this vital project. Our government has also allocated $14 million towards fixing the notorious Rochedale roundabout, which will improve the intersection safety for all commuters and cater for future traffic demands in this fast-growing suburb.

I've spoken about many projects today that are underway in Bonner, and with this funding delivered by the Morrison government to benefit our local roads and address the needs of commuters our commitment to infrastructure funding could not be stronger.

12:20 pm

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lalor for bringing forward this very important motion. The member has perfectly summarised what we know all too well about this very tired Liberal government. They simply cannot be trusted to keep their promises. Over the past eight years Australians have been served a banquet of neglect from this government with course after course of empty promises and empty pledges, leaving Australians hungry and disappointed. This has been most keenly felt across infrastructure.

The Liberal government, the self-proclaimed economic managers and trusted leaders of the nation's finances, have been stinging the Australian public to the tune of $7.4 billion over their term in office so far. How do we know this? As revealed in September's final budget outcome, we now know that over the past 12 months alone this government has underspent on its own infrastructure promises to the tune of $656 million just in the past 12 months. In the eight years of scandal-ridden listless Liberal governments through six iterations of leadership and backstabbing, Australians have missed out on $7.4 billion worth of promises. That's $7.4 billion that was guaranteed by this government that Australians voted on that has not been delivered. That's money that should have gone to electorates like mine which are in dire need of infrastructure upgrades. It's more announcements, no delivery. That's the legacy of this Liberal government, particularly when it comes to Tasmania where it has a history of overpromising and underdelivering on road infrastructure.

The $25 million Urban Congestion Fund promised in 2019 is still untouched. The so-called new funding for the Bass and Midlands highways announced this year has been repackaged from previous years. Under eight years of Liberal government, the Midland Highway project still isn't finished and what they have done is completely substandard, thanks to the Liberal government in Tasmania failing to manage the project. And the $461 million Bridgewater Bridge in my electorate promised in 2018 still hasn't been built. That's part of the fantasy that is the Hobart City Deal—again: announced, not delivered.

If this government actually cared about Tasmanian roads they'd be offering support for the Tasman Highway on the east coast and to fix Arthur Highway like Labor did at the last election. But they won't, and the reason is simple: the Liberal government does not care about infrastructure in Tasmania. They will fudge the numbers. They will rort and pork-barrel and repackage old promises, but when push comes to shove we know they are just not up to the job. They have spectacularly failed to deliver their promises.

We can just go to the bushfire disaster fund, a $4 billion fund that the Prime Minister announced nearly two years ago—not touched. We can go to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, a $5 billion fund. Hardly any of that money's been touched at all. In fact, reports show $334,000 in separations and redundancies and that eight of the fund's 28 staff are paid more than $230,000—plenty of money for the back end of the administration, but no money for infrastructure.

Australians deserve a government that is true to its word. Instead, we've got a PM who can't be trusted, who can't be believed; a PM who announces but doesn't deliver, who takes credit but never takes responsibility. We need a government that is committed to building back stronger, and we need a Prime Minister with the resolve and the passion to make it a reality. An Anthony Albanese Labor government will restore public faith in leadership and in politics by doing just that: delivering on Labor promises like our housing future fund to deliver 20,000 homes to those in need, like our Australian skills guarantee to ensure one in 10 workers on major government projects are cadets, apprentices or trainees and like our plan to rewire the nation and upgrade the Liberal's mangled NBN so that Australians everywhere can access the internet. Labor's vision is for a future made in Australia and infrastructure for all Australians.

12:25 pm

Photo of Angie BellAngie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Lalor for bringing this motion forward because I love talking about what we've done to deliver for infrastructure across our great nation. It is our government that has delivered critical infrastructure across urban and rural communities throughout Australia and that continues to invest in the future of our country. Since 2013-14 we've committed a total of $175 billion in infrastructure, with over 700 projects delivered or under construction, and investment across our infrastructure pipeline has averaged over $8 billion a year since 2013-14, a significant investment in infrastructure across Australia. The government has spent over $12 billion on land transport infrastructure investment in the 2020-21 financial year alone. In 2021 the government achieved over 95 per cent of this historic and ambitious infrastructure investment. The Morrison government has delivered a $126.6 million funding boost for stage 3 of the Gold Coast light rail, the project which is bringing the government's total investment for stage 3 to $395.6 million and is boosting local jobs, investment and transport connections across my electorate of Moncrieff, with six kilometres from Broadbeach to Burleigh. It is the federal government that is funding the majority of that project.

Ten years ago jumping on a tram on the Smith Street motorway at Griffith University, my own alma mater, and hopping off in the heart of Surfers Paradise was simply a pipedream, but today the Morrison government has made it fact. It's made it happen; it's made the impossible possible. The light rail will benefit many generations to come and those tourists who will soon be back on the Gold Coast—I won't go into that argument here in the Federation Chamber now but I'll save that for later in the day. I want to stick to infrastructure, not the failings of the Queensland government. This is an extraordinary achievement in a year with a challenging delivery environment, including natural disasters such as floods and bushfires, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. This represents the biggest spend on land transport infrastructure investment in Australia's history and is over $2 billion more than the previous high, set by the LNP of course in 2016-17, of $9.3 billion.

It's our government, the Morrison government, that will continue to invest $110 billion over the next decade in the land transport infrastructure investment pipeline. Expenditure this year is forecast to be even higher, at more than $14 billion. These investments form part of the government's economic recovery plan and will secure Australia's world-leading economic recovery by delivering nation-building infrastructure projects, meeting our challenge of increased road usage on our highways and getting Australians home sooner and safer. As the former Deputy Prime Minister used to say, instead of sitting in the traffic looking at the bumpers in front of you, you'll get home safely to play with your family after work. Kids will get home from school, and you'll be there sooner and safer thanks to our government.

I want to talk about the Coomera Connector stage 1, the upgrade of the M1, which is currently appalling. The M1 will be receiving $750 million in federal government assistance to build that connector to make sure that Gold Coasters get back to Moncrieff sooner and safer. It's currently in the planning with development phase activities having been approved, and an enabling works contract was awarded just this month, November 2021. The Morrison government is committed to delivering a future driven infrastructure plan to cope with Australia's growing population, and nowhere is it growing more than on the Gold Coast. We've had 100,000 southerners move up to the Gold Coast for the beautiful weather, the beautiful water and the beautiful sunshine—

An opposition member: And you.

Thank you. I'll take that interjection from those opposite. They have moved up to Queensland for all of the reasons I just outlined. We need to make sure that we deliver the infrastructure that we need for a growing city, and that's what the federal government has been focused on.

Some other upgrades include the Bruce Highway, Cooroy to Curra, section D. As a Queensland MP, I'm excited that Queenslanders will reap the benefit of that. There's also the upgrade between Daisy Hill and the Logan Motorway. For those who are driving from Brisbane to my electorate of Moncrieff, it's the federal government who are paying for that upgrade, near IKEA at Logan, to make sure you get home sooner and safer.

12:30 pm

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's that time of year again, isn't it? Isn't it terrific? During the last couple of weeks we've seen that we're at that point in the cycle. The Prime Minister's out and about. He's got his little fluoro vests on. He gets the yellow one, the orange one, the little hard hat. Sometimes you even get treated to the silly goggles. He pops up at building sites and construction sites. In fact, they don't actually have to be construction sites. You just need a bit of big, heavy machinery so it looks like you might be doing something. He trots around the country. He's announcing things again. Photo ops—that's what he's chasing. It's even caused a number of hashtags to trend on Twitter: #ScottieFromMarketing, #ScottieFromPhotoOps, and a few others that are not parliamentary, so we won't be mentioning them.

I'm mindful, as always, of the standing orders, and I'm not allowed to call the Prime Minister a liar here in the parliament. It sounds like 'flyer', so I'll choose my words carefully. It would be hard to pick the biggest untruth out of this government's promises. But, if we're going for a medal, infrastructure might not win the gold medal, but it's certainly a medal contender. They're in their ninth year. Every year you get the same rubbish spin, budget after budget. Their budgets are full of untruths about infrastructure. We get the big announcements every budget: 'We're going to spend five trillion, bazillion, gazillion, jillion, gajillion dollars on infrastructure! It's going to be terrific.' Then you get the questions in question time. Up they pop, the National Party ministers—because, really, the Prime Minister sees infrastructure as a plaything for the National Party—announcing things. But, when the cameras are away, when people aren't looking, what happens? Not much.

After eight years, in their ninth year, $7.4 billion of the infrastructure they announced was not delivered on time. That means fewer roads, fewer public transport upgrades, longer commutes and productivity impacts that impact the real economy of the country. That's because the government announce stuff, but they don't build it. Last financial year—a $656 million underspend.

When called out the Prime Minister does two things. He denies it. He pretends it's not true. He just keeps saying the same old stuff—never mind those pesky things called budget papers, where they publish the numbers and you can get them out, line them up and add them up with a calculator and work out what they've actually done. Never let the facts get in the way of the Prime Minister's spin. He also blames someone else. He famously blamed international students, remember? If you couldn't get a spot on the freeway or get a seat on the train, it wasn't because the government over there failed to invest in the infrastructure that Australians needed; it was somehow because of the international students—the same students that he told the universities to go and recruit after he cut $2.2 billion from their funding. But then apparently they got too many. The other thing he does is he always blames state governments. When caught out down in Frankston recently, 'Why haven't you built the rail line you promised?' he said, 'It's the state government's fault.' 'But you promised it.' 'No, it's the state government's fault.' It's only Labor state governments, of course. But Australians suffer the consequences, and it has real economic impacts.

The only thing worse than underspends and doing nothing is when they actually do things. They see infrastructure as an opportunity to rort and pork-barrel. 'How good's infrastructure! Billions of dollars of taxpayer money we can shovel off to Liberal party marginal seats.' The Urban Congestion Fund—they announced $4.8 billion three years ago. They've only spent $550 million. It's another mirage of an announcement. But, goodness me, they've rorted it. Eighty-three per cent went to Liberal Party seats or target seats. The Commuter Car Park Fund—87 per cent went to coalition or target seats. Not one of the 47 projects was listed or recommended by the department, and the project selection process only involved canvassing Liberal MPs and candidates. Rort, rort, rort. I presume it's unparliamentary to snort like a pig to make the point about pork-barrelling, so I won't do that either. Ten commuter carparks were not even attached to a train station, such is their marginal-seat-pork-barrelling brilliance.

But nowhere suffers more than Victoria. The Prime Minister hates Victoria. He never misses a chance to bag us. He took our vaccines in the pandemic. He abandoned our businesses. He discriminated against us. And now it's infrastructure. Every capital city in Australia has a City Deal, except Victoria. Melbourne has no City Deal. Every other capital city does. Before the last election though, he was down in south-east Melbourne like a serial pest promising things, sucking up to people, 'You'll have a City Deal!' What's happened in the 2½ years since? Nothing. He hasn't been seen since. That means 1½ million to two million people in south-east Melbourne suffer longer commutes, our employment centres are not getting the road upgrades they need, there's no planning for the future south-east Melbourne airport and agricultural industries are not getting recycled water. This guy is a scammer!

12:35 pm

Photo of John AlexanderJohn Alexander (Bennelong, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you to the member for Lalor for bringing this motion to the chamber. We're colleagues on the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, and I know we share a real interest in this area. The member would know from the hearings she has attended with me that I have serious concerns about how infrastructure is funded and planned. We missed the opportunity to look at it long term and to provide certainty to industry and the community. More regrettably, we allow speculators and camp followers to make away with millions of dollars in uplift that should, by rights, belong to the taxpayer who funded the infrastructure that gave them this uplift.

There were many concerns that I had in 2010 and, as I look to leave this place, these concerns, unfortunately, remain. So while I have concerns that we are not reaching our full potential in providing as much transformational infrastructure as we should, I can't agree entirely with the idea that infrastructure has been neglected. The numbers are pretty staggering. Since 2013-14, we have committed a total of $175 billion in infrastructure across our nation, with over 700 projects delivered or under construction. Investment across our infrastructure pipeline has averaged over $8 billion per year since 2013-14. The Australian government have spent over $12 billion on land transport infrastructure investment in the 2020-21 financial year. We are investing $110 billion over 10 years into the land transport infrastructure investment pipeline. The expenditure this year is forecast to be even higher, at more than $14 billion. Together, these investments form part of the Australian government's economic recovery plan and will secure Australia's world-leading economic recovery by delivering nation-building infrastructure projects, meeting our national freight challenge, and getting Australians home sooner and safer.

Areas of growth need jobs to make them sustainable, and infrastructure provision is a great way to create these jobs, as well as improving liveability and viability of growth areas. The new and additional funding in the 2021-22 budget for projects and initiatives will support over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of these projects. This, in turn, builds on around 100,000 jobs supported through our existing pipeline of projects under construction. So it is clear that this government is investing in growth areas. Indeed, with an election coming up, the season for local infrastructure approaches. In Bennelong, we know all about the cost of unfulfilled election promises, as the proposed Epping to Parramatta train line promised, and apparently funded, by Labor back in 2010 never saw the light of day. With the excellent Sydney Metro now flying through Epping station, the opportunity missed by Labor a decade ago is an opportunity that now will be lost forever, unfortunately.

But, if anything, this is an example of a larger problem. As are the issues that have led to the member for Lalor bringing this motion forward today. On the larger issue, both parties are equally culpable. A lack of vision exists. The attractiveness of a big cash splash at every election contest belies the truth that infrastructure spending needs to last longer than three years and needs constant support between the excited peaks of election mania. Good infrastructure is planned, created and expanded over many years and decades, across parliaments and changes in government. It must be bipartisan; otherwise it will not survive. Unfortunately, the arguments about who has built what and who has not built what demonstrate that infrastructure is being used—by both sides—only as a tool for campaigning, not as a tool for improving our suburbs and making our cities and regions more livable, let alone as a national plan of settlement.

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built it wasn't quickly announced to make the best media release. The plans weren't rushed out to ensure that it could be used as part of an election; no, it was planned, tested and invested in soundly. Nearly 100 years on, we're still using it and benefiting from the way it has fundamentally shaped our city. That is what good infrastructure does. We currently have three-year plans, but we need to have 50- and 100-year plans if we want to ensure we have infrastructure that will stand the test of time, not just the test of the ballot box.

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

There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.