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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 1877


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10:51): It is not really the politics of hope, is it, Mr Deputy Speaker, from the member for Parramatta? It is not, 'Yes, we can'; it is, 'No, we can't.' You can understand why the last Labor governments federally and in New South Wales were so atrocious on delivering infrastructure projects for metropolitan Sydney. In my electorate we were promised up to five times over a decade that the north-west rail line would be constructed. Signs went up saying, 'Coming soon: the north-west rail line.' But over 12 years those five promises were broken. It was never started. It took the election of a Liberal state government to actually start construction of a major public transport infrastructure project in Australia. The north-west rail line is a major public transport infrastructure upgrade. Over 12 years Labor did nothing in Sydney.

We also saw under the last federal government six years where not a single dollar of infrastructure money was spent in metropolitan Sydney. Nothing was done. Of course, $100,000 was put into the New South Wales state government for a study. There was $100,000 for a study on a metro line. But when the metro line was cancelled by that state government, the Commonwealth had a windfall. The money was paid back. So the only money that was allocated by the federal government for a study had to be paid back by the state government to the Commonwealth. That is the embarrassing record of Labor in office with infrastructure in the biggest city in our country. It is the biggest driver of economic activity in our country, and there were no infrastructure projects underway under Labor.

This is an excellent motion from the member for Reid, highlighting the fact that from day one the Tony Abbott government, a Liberal government, will be very different on the delivery of infrastructure in Australia. This is not about being road technicians. I question the qualifications of the member for Parramatta to tell us about her design input into the lanes or the gradients of the tunnels. I really question her input. I know we have frustrated car executives on that side who want to run car companies. They want to run airlines. They also now want to tell us about the gradients of tunnels and about lanes. Is it only me who finds this extraordinary?

We are putting in funding from the Commonwealth—actual dollars. That is what we do at a Commonwealth level. We provide the funding. The best piece of infrastructure built by a Commonwealth government in recent memory was the M7, funded by the Commonwealth under the Howard government in partnership with the state government. It is an excellent motorway. I never get a single complaint about it. People do not mind paying the toll, member for Parramatta, because they get a great service from that toll. It is unrealistic in a modern construct to expect infrastructure to be built by government without some form of user-pays charge. It is unrealistic. It is unprofessional for members of parliament to come into this House and say, 'It is possible.' Simply put, the infrastructure backlog that exists in all of our major cities around Australia is so substantial that it is unrealistic and blatantly politically flawed to come in here and suggest that there can be no user-pays input into major infrastructure projects. There needs to be, there must be and there should be. That is the reasonable way to construct the financing of this project.

We know that with the state government there will be a reasonable toll put on this motorway. It needs to happen so we can get Sydney moving again. Given everything we know about infrastructure financing in Australia, it is fantastic that we are keeping our commitment to go through with such an important project in a major city to get Sydney moving again.

Just on the weekend, you could pick up reports which showed that our city has ground to a halt. The papers are asking, 'Why does one truck hitting a tunnel stop the whole city?' The answer is, because we have relied solely on government to fund motorways and other infrastructure projects in Sydney. Design has been missing.

Coming to office as a new government with a new start, we are starting on the front foot. We are building the most important project—that is, connecting Sydney with the west, the biggest economic driver in our city: Western Sydney and its millions of people, millions of businesses, and all of the economic drivers that will make our city prosperous. We have to get it moving with a major infrastructure project. We know this will create 10,000 jobs. Of course we can get this right. We do not have to have a debate in here about the technical grading of the tunnelling, or how many lanes it needs to be; that is the opposition looking for a cause. It is just simple negativity—relentless negativity. This is the most negative opposition I have ever seen! They are relentlessly negative about everything. But the reality is that the populations of the member for Chifley's electorate, and of the member for Kingsford Smith's electorate and of the member for Parramatta's electorate will be cheering the Abbott government on as this project is commenced and as road projects actually get underway—not studies, not money allocated in the last year of the government—

Mr Husic interjecting

Mr HAWKE: And there are lots of claims over there; they say, 'on the final year of the forward estimates we put some money in'—well, we are actually putting the money in up front and getting the real construction underway. This is a fantastic motion by the member for Reid. I absolutely commend it to the House. And I say to those members opposite: please, the politics of hope—yes we can.