Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Questions without Notice
Western Australia: Infrastructure
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Senator Johnston. Can the minister inform the Senate how the government is building the infrastructure Western Australia needs to bolster the state's productivity and its economic and employment growth into the future?
I thank the senator for his question and for his longstanding interest and commitment to the state of Western Australia. The infrastructure issues in Western Australia will soon be very clear to this chamber—that is, the coalition is committed to delivering world-class infrastructure to Western Australia without a mining tax.
The Labor Party, in government, continually claimed that the Gateway project, a billion dollar project; the Northern Highway project, $307 million, Muchea to Wubin, stage 2; the North West Coastal Highway, $150 million; and the Swan Valley Bypass, $480 million, would be fully funded. Of course, they tied all of those programs to the mining tax. What a poisoned chalice for the people of Western Australia—a tax which, in fact, raised no money. Mr President, a coalition government will deliver the Perth Airport Gateway project for the people of Hasluck and greater Perth. It will also deliver the Greater Northern Highway, stage 2; the North West Coastal Highway; the Swan Valley Bypass; and a whole host of other black-spot programs. But the important thing is that the $3.8 billion funding for those programs comes without a mining tax— (Time expired)
This tax, if not removed, continues to be a major drag, a major source of damage, to the Western Australian economy. Indeed, Western Australian taxpayers paid $627 million last year in carbon taxes. Under Labor's plan, on-road transport was going to be hit with a 6c a litre carbon tax. Of course, Senator Sterle loves that, as a former truck driver.
He loves to see remote towns, remote communities in Western Australia—literally thousands of kilometres from ports and from fuel infrastructure—paying massive amounts of carbon tax. The Australian Trucking Association estimated that a carbon tax on the trucking sector will cost $510 million in 2014-15 alone.
Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Will the minister update the Senate on recent developments of the Gateway WA project and tell the Senate what effect the repeal of the mining tax would have on this important infrastructure project as well as other projects around Western Australia?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I thank the senator for his question. In Perth, the $1 billion Gateway project will provide a critical link for Perth's freight and logistics industries—may I say, without a mining tax. This vital infrastructure will improve access to the airport, reduce congestion and cut travel time for commuters, whilst also making it easier for people-access. We know that freight and container traffic in the area will double by 2030, so we need to act now to ensure Perth has the infrastructure to cope with this increase in demand. It will also be essential for getting agricultural, mining and other resources to the port more efficiently. The coalition is strengthening Australia's economy by investing $3.8 billion into this critical piece of transport infrastructure, all without the pain and suffering and the purely Western Australian tax on mining. (Time expired)