Monday, 24 November 2014
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Federal Government has provided $1.5 billion in funding for the WestConnex motorway, plus an additional $2 billion in the form a concessional loan; and that this funding was awarded despite the lack of a detailed business case, including the assumptions behind the project's cost-benefit analysis, being made available to Infrastructure Australia or the public,
(ii) the WestConnex motorway, if built, will negatively impact residents and commuters across Sydney by increasing traffic congestion and air pollution; and the main beneficiaries of the project will be private businesses who will profit from new tolls while the public wears the financial risk, and
(iii) the Federal Government has not spent a single dollar on public transport projects in Sydney; and
(b) calls on the Federal and NSW Governments to abandon their plans to construct the WestConnex motorway and commit to building public transport in Sydney to minimise congestion, improve environmental sustainability and boost productivity.
Labor stands for the best solution to infrastructure bottlenecks. Labor favours neither roads over rail nor rail over roads. Labor stands for the best solution to congestion as recommended by experts. That is why we established Infrastructure Australia. Labor allocated funds to WestConnex strictly subject to infrastructure Australia's approval of the business case and on the proviso that it be addressed to the major issue of people's access to the CBD and freight to and from Port Botany. The coalition's plan does neither, and Infrastructure Australia is still assessing the project's merit. Given that the Greens political party has backed the Infrastructure Australia model, we are surprised by this motion that seeks to supplant expert opinion and which, even if carried, will have no effect on this government. The motion also includes factual errors. The Greens political party has an unreasonable fixation against funding roads, just as the federal coalition has an unreasonable fixation against funding public transport. Labor supports the modal solution that gives community the best value.
WestConnex, if it did proceed, would add to congestion in Sydney. It was very disappointing that, when Labor was in government, under the previous minister, Mr Albanese, funding for public transport in New South Wales—in his own state—was deeply limited. The WestConnex project has had many experts give advice that this is not the solution to Sydney's transport problems. Motions are very useful for the Senate to be able to express their point of view. It was an opportunity for Labor to put on record sometimes their stated concerns about WestConnex. They cannot walk on both sides of the road on this issue. Labor, in the constituencies that would be impacted if this road went ahead, with the pollution coming from the stacks, with the congestion coming onto local streets, go into the communities and speak about their concerns. But they continue to put money— (Time expired)