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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 2790


Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:33): My question is to the minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Senator Ludwig. Can the minister advise the Senate how infrastructure investments in the budget build a stronger economy?

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:34): I thank the senator for his question. It is in my new representative portfolio of infrastructure. Can I say then that the 2013-14 budget builds on federal Labor's record investment in the nation's roads, rail and urban public transportation. We have already doubled the budget for roads; we are building and upgrading over 7,500 kilometres of road. The government has increased rail spending tenfold and is building—

Honourable senators interjecting


Senator LUDWIG: It is good news. We have also committed more in public transportation infrastructure than all of our predecessors since Federation combined. In five short years, Labor has turned around declining investment in the nation's infrastructure and begun building for the future. We have replaced the neglect, buck-passing and short-termism by the Liberals and Nationals with a comprehensive national plan—unlike what the Liberals have demonstrated. That is why, in this budget, the federal Labor government is injecting a further $24 billion into our Nation Building Program. This takes our investment in the nation's road, rail and urban public transport to a record $60 billion over the 11 years to 2018-19. But the job is not finished there; there is more to be done.

This year's budget will get the missing link between the F3 and M2 in Sydney to market within months. We will assist the New South Wales government to deliver the M4 and M5 extension, in partnership with the private sector. In Brisbane, in my home city, Labor will upgrade and widen the Gateway Motorway to six lanes between Nudgee Road and the Deagon Deviation. In Melbourne, we are investing to widen the M80 to a minimum of three lanes, in both directions, and to install the latest technology for managing traffic flows along the entire corridor. In Adelaide, we will upgrade and widen South Road between Torrens Road and the River Torrens. In Perth, we will see the construction of the Swan Valley bypass, which will replace the Great Northern Highway as the main freight route for going in and out of the city from the north. (Time expired)

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:36): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister provide an outline of the government's investment in our regional roads and highways?

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:36): I thank Senator Gallacher for his interest in rural infrastructure as well. Labor's investment in Australia's vital infrastructure extends beyond the limits of the cities—where the Liberals stopped. In fact, two-thirds of our infrastructure budget will be for projects in rural and regional Australia. The 2013-14 budget builds on what is already the largest road construction project since the creation of the National Highway Network some 40 years ago. This budget locks in the funding for Labor's $4.1 billion plan for a better and safer Bruce Highway to begin; it will continue and complete a range of improvements to this vital road. It continues the substantial progress towards the full duplication of the Pacific Highway. I add that that is one of the largest and most complex road construction projects ever undertaken in this country. It delivers a dedicated package of works along the Midland Highway in Tasmania. All of this is about supporting— (Time expired)

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (14:37): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister explain how important it is for the government to invest in these infrastructure projects?

Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:37): This government has a plan for the future. Investing in roads and rail increases productivity, reduces congestion and increases time spent at home. I heard some little laughs from the opposition during the last question—very concerning from the doormats to the Liberal Party. The Liberals and Nationals only know one thing when it comes to investing in the nation's infrastructure: neglect, neglect and neglect. Quite frankly, they are not up to the job of investing in nation-building projects about relieving congestion and ensuring that we have good-quality roads and highways. After 12 years of the Howard government, a lack of investment cut almost one percentage point off annual growth and more than $2 billion was slashed from the federal roads budget atop the slashing of the $1 billion from the health budget. Australia ranked 20th out of the 25 OECD countries when it came to investing in public infrastructure— (Time expired)