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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 5436

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (6:36 PM) —I wish to take the opportunity to outline the key measures in the budget for the Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government portfolio. Upon coming to office we had to deal with a significant infrastructure deficit. Under the previous government, we saw public investment in infrastructure fall by 20 per cent as a share of national income. We know that the former government, over the first eight years after it came into office in 1996, slashed $2 billion from the federal roads budget, and rail fared little better. This budget continues our record investment in the nation’s infrastructure and in our productive and export capacity.

This year, construction work begins on some $20 billion worth of major road and rail projects. This budget also makes provision for the delivery of vital infrastructure reform, such as the establishment of national transport regulators. The highlights in the budget include: $1 billion for interstate rail, bringing our total investment in rail to $9 billion; $70.7 million to get the Moorebank intermodal terminal shovel-ready; $89.9 million over four years for almost 100 extra CASA frontline staff; $200 million for aviation security, including next-generation body scanners, funding for regional airport security and explosives detection dogs; $6 billion for the Regional Infrastructure Fund to invest our resource profits in capacity-building infrastructure and improve our potential to grow in the future; a record $2 billion in 2010-11 for local government; and some $8.5 million for long-term planning of Sydney’s aviation capacity.

In terms of rail, road and port infrastructure, we have committed now through the Nation Building Program some $37 billion over six years. This is a major investment. Projects which will commence construction in 2010 include the Hunter Expressway, the Pacific Highway’s Kempsey bypass and Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade, the Cardwell range realignment in North Queensland at the Bruce Highway, the Kings Road interchange at the Calder Freeway, duplication of the Princes Highway from Waurn Ponds to Winchelsea, Dampier Highway duplication stages 2 to 6, the Great Eastern Highway and Roe Highway interchange, and the Hume Highway Holbrook bypass—we brought forward funding in this budget for this to make sure that the full duplication can be completed by the year 2012. Rail projects include: the Wimmera intermodal terminal at Dooen, the main north-south rail capacity improvements, stage 2 of the Port Botany rail line upgrade between Enfield and Port Botany, the Kewdale intermodal rail developments, the Gawler rail line modernisation and the upgrade of the Hobart to Western Junction rail line project. They are all due to commence this year.

There is a total of $312 million for aviation security and safety—importantly, in legislation before this parliament right now, legislation which must be carried in the next fortnight by both houses. There is $89.9 million over four years for almost 100 extra CASA front-line staff—

Mr Briggs interjecting

Mr ALBANESE —I would have thought that this was not the day to make jokes about airline safety. Funding is by an increase in aviation fuel excise from approximately 2.9c to 3.6c per litre, a smaller increase than if CPI were maintained. The Howard government raised the fuel excise 11 times, to keep pace with inflation, in order to fund safety and regulatory activity. All of this funding is going back into extra front-line staff in aviation security for CASA, and I would hope that it has the support of every member of this parliament.

There is $14.5 million to continue the Indonesian transport safety program. This program was begun by the former government. It is an excellent program. It is an important part of our engagement with our region, and we have determined to continue it. The implementation of national regulators, another important program, is a reform which will boost national income by up to $2.4 billion a year. Can I conclude by saying that we have funding for regional and local community infrastructure in addition to the work that we have done already. (Time expired)