Wednesday, 24 September 2014
East West Link
That the Senate—
(i) the recent release of the G20 finance ministers report on leading practices to promote and prioritise quality investment, particularly in infrastructure,
(ii) the emphasis this report places on rigorous, transparent and consistent infrastructure project preparation,
(iii) that this reflects priorities set out in the 2013 National Infrastructure Plan, which promotes public investment in public transport, and
(iv) that this raises concern that the $3 billion in federal funding committed toward the proposed East West Link project does not uphold the principles set out in these reports; and
(b) calls on the Government to redirect the $3 billion of Commonwealth funds allocated for the proposed East West Link to public transport in Victoria.
Thank you. Labor opposes the motion. Its sentiments are worthy; however, the whole thrust of Labor's policy—and we thought of the Greens policy—around infrastructure was to leave decisions about the best solution to congestion problems to the infrastructure, transport and planning specialists. Labor has been critical of the coalition for its fixation on roads being the solution to every problem. Similarly, the view that public transport is always the answer makes another error.
The former federal Labor government allocated $3 billion to Melbourne's Metro Rail project, and we believe that that project is worthy and greatly needed with an Infrastructure Australia assessed BCR of 1.2. It is outrageous that the federal coalition has cut this project and shifted the money to the East West Link, which so far has not generated a verified BCR of greater than 0.8. This motion fails to condemn the federal coalition for already paying $1.5 billion to its mates in the shambolic Victorian coalition government two financial years before construction will commence. (Time expired)
I brought this motion to the chamber today in the context of the G20 statement on infrastructure, which set out a set of leading practices about good transport planning that the government's allocation of $3 billion to the East West Link clearly did not meet. These leading practices state that we need to have a national infrastructure plan. Because of Infrastructure Australia, in fact we do have a national infrastructure plan that very clearly states that, in urban areas, public funding should be allocated primarily towards public transport. So, in moving this motion today, we felt that it was quite appropriate, giving those leading practices, and timely to point out that here we have a national infrastructure plan, we have leading practices that have been acknowledged in the G20 meeting, and yet it is still being proposed to allocate $3 billion towards the East West Link.