Senate debates

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Moorebank Intermodal Company

7:07 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

Under the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Moorebank Intermodal Company Statement of Corporate Intent was tabled in accordance with Commonwealth Government Business Enterprise Governance and Oversight Guidelines 2011.

Moorebank Intermodal is one of the projects that former Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, promoted in Western Sydney. This is one of a number of proper infrastructure projects that will bring benefits to Western Sydney. At the moment the coalition government is not taking the approach that they lectured everyone about prior to the election—that is, there should be cost-benefit analyses of projects. They simply want to reduce the threshold for the amount of money a project has to be worth before there has to be proper scrutiny. So they want to reduce scrutiny.

I am sure the National Party would like scrutiny of projects in rural and regional Australia. I am sure they would want to know that cost-benefit analyses of projects in rural and regional Australia were being done. I am sure that they want to know that if a project is being undertaken in rural and regional Australia, it is actually going to benefit rural and regional Australia, not the election campaign of a National Party member or one of the Liberal country members.

These are important issues when we are dealing with infrastructure and regional development—and it is an issue not only in rural and regional Australia but also in metropolitan Australia. In New South Wales we have a project called WestConnex. It has not been subjected to any detailed analysis of what the cost will be or what the benefit will be to the commuters coming from Western Sydney into the city on a daily basis. After all the hypocrisy and the arguments from the coalition about having cost-benefit analyses when Labor was in government, we find that they do not care about cost-benefit analyses when it is about trying to give a leg up to the embattled Baird government in New South Wales.

The coalition want to announce big projects in Western Sydney—despite whether they know when that project is going to start, when it is going to end and whether or not it is going to be a benefit. They want to make these announcements, because they are embattled day in, day out in ICAC. It is about making announcements and trying to get away from the scrutiny that ICAC is placing on the illegal activity of Liberal Party MPs in New South Wales. I think about nine that have gone now, and another one will be going soon, so it will be 10 by the time the latest Liberal MP comes under scrutiny in ICAC. You see the need for scrutiny, for parliamentary oversight, and for cost-benefit analyses when you are dealing with big projects either in metropolitan areas or in regional areas. It is not good enough for a Liberal MP in New South Wales to jump into the front seat of a Bentley, get a brown paper bag and then vote for and support projects in parliament. That is not how it works. There are moral issues and there are legal issues that have to be dealt with.

I noticed that Prime Minister Tony Abbott blamed legislation for the problems in New South Wales, because they cannot take money from property developers. The Prime Minister said that that is the problem. Well, Prime Minister, that is not the problem. The problem is that Liberal MP after Liberal MP in New South Wales are getting brown paper bags from property developers and are operating illegally. They are breaking the law. That is the problem in New South Wales, not the legislation. The breaching of the law by Liberal Party members is reprehensible. It should stop, and ICAC should get to the bottom of it, and we might have one or two Liberal members standing at the end of it. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.