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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19900

Mr GIBBONS (3:27 PM) —My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to his comments given to the Bendigo media on 31 October 2001 and printed on the front page of the Bendigo Advertiser on 5 July 2003 relating to funding the Calder Highway:

The government is committed to fund it in partnership with the State Government, so as the State Government commits to construction, the Commonwealth will match the funding under the program of Roads of National Importance.

Now that the Victorian government has allocated a further $70 million for the project in its last two budgets and given that Transport and Regional Services Minister Anderson ruled out funding the project on ABC radio last week, hasn't the Treasurer misled the people of Bendigo by reneging on his election campaign commitment? Mr Speaker, the Bendigo Advertiser has asked: `Was that a lie? Does the Treasurer—

The SPEAKER —The member for Bendigo will resume his seat or I will deal with him.

Mr COSTELLO (Treasurer) —The duplication—the two lanes—of the Calder Highway is being funded under the Roads of National Importance program, a program which never existed under the Labor Party. So if it had not been for this government—and I am sure the member has told the Bendigo Advertiserthis—none of that would have occurred; none of the extension would have occurred because there were no roads of national importance. I think this is very important. The Commonwealth had no such program and therefore under the Labor Party there would have been no Commonwealth contribution whatsoever in relation to that. So we have been building and extending the Calder Highway under that program—and, as I indicated, under the RONI program—fifty-fifty. That provides the funding for it.

I am aware that the member for Bendigo has called for the remaining duplication of the Calder Highway to be funded by the Commonwealth out of funds which have been allocated to the Scoresby Freeway. And the member for Bendigo nods, rather embarrassedly. He has said that there is now no need to fund the Scoresby Freeway—

Mr Gibbons —That's right.

Mr COSTELLO —He nods again and says, `That's right.' I want that to be carefully noted: he said, `That's right,' and nodded. There is no need, he says, for the Commonwealth to expend any funds—the $400 million plus—on the Scoresby Freeway. In other words, it is now federal Labor policy to take funds out of the Scoresby Freeway. What does the member for Deakin think about that? What does the member for Aston think about that? What does the member for Casey think about that?

The SPEAKER —The Treasurer will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr COSTELLO —Mr Speaker, what does the member for Dunkley think about that? If you want to talk about election commitments that have been broken, there has never been one of the dimension of Premier Bracks's in the Victorian state election. He was running around saying that Labor was committed to the Scoresby Freeway. He got himself elected and says he wants to impose tolls and completely suck out not just the state funding but the federal funding as well. We have a written agreement with the Victorian government that says Scoresby will be built—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Sydney is warned!

Mr COSTELLO —and will be built without tolls. This campaign by the member for Bendigo to short-change the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne will be repudiated. The funding of the Bendigo road will be accommodated under Roads of National Importance, a program which only this side of the parliament has put in place. I am sure that the Labor Party would acknowledge the fact that there would have been no funding if it had not been for the coalition.