Friday, 17 November 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Senator Watt. I refer to the Albanese Labor government's commitment to end the Liberal and National parties' legacy of rorts and waste and deliver the infrastructure that Australia needs. How does the government's response to the infrastructure review deliver for my home state of Queensland?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I don't know why it is that at the mere mention of the words 'rorts' and 'waste' we hear a lot of noise coming from the National Party. There's this Pavlovian response from the National Party every time we hear about rorts and waste. Senator Green, thank you very much for your question, because it gives me an opportunity to highlight how the Albanese government is delivering for infrastructure in Queensland. Of course, yesterday the Albanese government announced our response to the independent review of the Infrastructure Investment Program. That review was a shameful indictment on the Liberals and Nationals that found $33 billion in cost blowouts, which would have stopped any new infrastructure projects until 2033, not to mention driving inflation up. Our response to the review will reform the federal government's investment to deliver an infrastructure program that is funded and can actually be delivered, including in Queensland.
And there is plenty of good news for Queensland in yesterday's announcement—all up, over $2 billion in extra funding for Queensland infrastructure, including—
Have a listen to the list! The funding includes an extra $1.7 billion towards the Logan and Gold Coast Faster Rail upgrade, an extra $70 million for the M1 Pacific Motorway, an extra $27 million for the Centenary Bridge Upgrade, an extra $46 million for the Boundary Road level crossing project, an extra $8.9 million for the Bribie Island road project and an extra $3 million for the Beenleigh Road connection.
We're also contributing additional funding towards Chambers Flat Road in Park Ridge, Charters Towers Industrial Precinct Access, Loganlea Road upgrades, Shute Harbour Road upgrades and road extensions in Hervey Bay. And, of course, where the Liberals and Nationals failed to properly fund and even start construction on the Rockhampton Ring Road, we're actually getting on with it, delivering it and funding it, with early works having started, allocating an additional $347 million towards Rocky.
You're welcome, Senator Canavan. We're happy to do what you couldn't do any day of the week.
It is clear the Albanese Labor government is focused on delivering for communities right across Queensland, while the Liberals and Nationals were only interested in press releases and colour-coded spreadsheets. How does the government's response to the infrastructure review also deliver for New South Wales?
That's another very good question, Senator Green. Again, I don't know what it is about colour-coded spreadsheets that sets the National Party off. Is there something you're ashamed of there? New South Wales is an example of how bad it can get when the coalition is in power, both federally and at a state level. Instead of nation-building infrastructure you get car parks that can't be delivered, and in the case of the great Great Western Highway, instead of coordinated and strategic infrastructure investment, we experienced the Morrison government funding two ends of a road project on the condition that the state government funded a tunnel in the middle. The only problem was that there was no money for the tunnel. So the Morrison government had two ends of a road with nothing in between.
Rob Sitch was here the other night for the ABC special, but even he would have been surprised to find a far-fetched proposal like that for an episode of Utopia. That is how the Morrison government ran. That is how the Joyce leadership of the National Party ran. We are cleaning up the waste. We are delivering extra funding for New South Wales. We are delivering more infrastructure. We are going to do what you never managed to get around to.
As we know from the infrastructure review, the economic mismanagement we saw around infrastructure from the Liberals and Nationals was astounding. They oversaw cost blowout after cost blowout and failed to act. Our response to the review provides a forward plan of projects that are properly planned, properly targeted and properly funded. They will actually happen. That means investment that will grow the economy, improve productivity and take pressure off inflation.
Earlier in the week I pointed out the disagreement that seems to exist between the Liberals and the Nationals about whether we should spend more money or less. We've had Senator Bragg and Senator Hume and others out there saying, 'We need a contractionary budget. Spend less', while we have Senator McKenzie saying, 'Spend, spend; more, more.' But what I've learned is that Senator McKenzie can't even agree with herself about her position on this, because at the same time that she's been out there calling for more infrastructure funding, just this week she actually called on the government to rein in our spending. What do you want us to cut? What do you want? Do you want more spending or less?