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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 259

Mr ROBB (3:57 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the repeated statements in the months leading into the last election that Labor had a plan for major infrastructure. Prime Minister, after well over a year in office and two so-called stimulus packages totalling $50 billion, why have there been no major new infrastructure projects announced to date?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —They really are a bunch of beauts, aren’t they? On infrastructure? In 12 years, nothing; one year, fix the lot. That is terrific. One year, fix the lot—cranes out across the country. But there are a few things that you have to go through. One is called the tendering process.

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, can I draw your attention to the obligation of speakers, be they at the dispatch box or otherwise, to not only address you through the chair but not turn their back upon you so they can perform some computed or TV trick.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr RUDD —On the question of infrastructure, let us all bring close to mind the absolute debacle in the Senate last year when those opposite sought to vote on the nation-building legislation. Do you remember that? I notice the honourable member who has just interjected, who is from the great state of Western Australia. I thought that, after 12 years of umpteen studies by those opposite about partnering with the Western Australian government on the future development of the Ord, this government, uniquely, has now said to the Liberal government of Western Australia, ‘We’re going to be partners with you in that development.’ That is why I went up to Kununurra with the Liberal Premier of Western Australia—because we are going to get on with the business of developing the great north-west, as opposed to those who twiddle their thumbs year on year on year.

Furthermore, I would say to the member for Goldstein in answer to his question: on two occasions last year we advanced two blocks of half a billion dollars to the universities of Australia to advance much-needed capital works. That work is now underway—from planning processes and the rollout of project work. We did the same in the stimulus package last year—half a billion dollars released also to the TAFE sector of the country to do the same. I would suggest to the member for Goldstein that he also pay attention to the other contents of the $4.6 billion nation-building program that we released last December, including the massive investment in the Australian rail freight corporation, and to what will happen to the Australian rail freight network across the country. These are decisions which have already been taken, and we support each one of them.

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Has the Prime Minister concluded?

Mr Pyne —I intimidated him, Mr Speaker!

The SPEAKER —Order! I think I should be charitable and let that just ride.