Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Moorebank Intermodal Company

5:49 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This statement of corporate intent is an interesting document. The Moorebank Intermodal Company is a significant infrastructure development in the area of Western Sydney near the very significant base of the Australian Army.

The idea of the intermodal is to bring together different forms of, particularly, freight transport—rail, road and access to the ports. There has been quite a deal of comment on the Moorebank Intermodal over the years of the Labor government. There was at times a thought, and it is a thought that I subscribe to I might say: why was the government getting involved in this transport hub when right next door private industry were at one stage proposing to do the same thing?

I must confess that in the last few months I have not quite followed the Moorebank Intermodal progress as much as I did sometime last year, and perhaps things have moved on. But I would urge the current government to have another look at that whole Moorebank proposal. There was a private group involved in a similar type of activity, and it seemed to me at the time—and we canvassed this through estimates on many an occasion—that the private group could have done what the government ended up doing through this Moorebank Intermodal Company. It may be too late. I speak, obviously, not as an expert on this but simply as one who had a view and wondered why it was that a government was getting involved in a private activity that private enterprise was wanting to do at the same time. Because it was a Labor government in charge, and I suspect because of their broad socialist view that governments do things better than others, that is why this proposal went ahead.

I do think there is an opportunity for the new government to have a look at the Moorebank Intermodal. I am not suggesting for a moment that the board and directors of the company are anything but very proficient. I am sure they are carrying out their terms of reference—if you might call it that—very well, but I think there is an opportunity for another look at the whole proposal. The shareholder ministers in the company are the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. I would urge those ministers to have a look to see if it is not too late to incorporate this proposal with what I think is still—I am not absolutely certain but I think is still—the proposal of private industries in the immediate vicinity to do much the same thing. I think it would be a bad use of scarce assets if we had a government and a private industry sort of competing in the same sort of general operation. Someone who knows a lot more about this than me may well challenge some of my detail, and I would accept that easily. But as a broad general principle it is an area where perhaps the government does not need to be involved, taxpayers' dollars do not need to be spent and there may be a better way of doing what was intended by this Moorebank Intermodal proposal.

Question agreed to.