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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6097


Mr HALE (3:42 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. Will the minister outline the progress in installing boom gates and other safety measures at level crossings as part of the government’s economic stimulus plan?


Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Solomon for his question and I note that the government is undertaking the most sweeping investment in our history. We are spending more on rail in 12 months than those opposite spent in 12 long years. Part of the Nation Building and Jobs Program, the $42 billion economic stimulus, was $150 million over two years to install boom gates and other safety measures at 292 high-risk level crossings.

I note that those opposite object to this program, which is consistent with the fact that they voted against this program in spite of the fact that there are more than 100 accidents at these level crossings each year. How did we identify which level crossings should be fixed? We went out there and we consulted with the industry—namely, with Trevor Martyn, the Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, who has had this to say:

The upgrades are desperately needed. The government has worked closely with the trucking industry to determine the level crossings that will be upgraded. The funding is a great win for Queensland truck drivers, train drivers and everyone who uses the state’s road system.

That is what the trucking sector are saying about our program.

As a result of the analysis, we did not do what they did with the regional rorts program. We did what we are doing with the education revolution. Indeed, 167 of these level crossings are to be fixed in Liberal Party and National Party seats. Fifty-seven per cent of them are in Liberal Party and National Party seats. In spite of that, this program is so offensive that they continue to interject against it.

Of course, in spite of the fact that they interjected against it and they voted against the nation-building program legislation in the parliament here two weeks ago, members of the House of Representatives who came into this chamber and voted against black spot funding in their electorates, against roads funding in their electorates and against rail funding in their electorates should be aware that it sailed through the Senate today—no divisions, no votes, no anything. Whereas they actually had the numbers, potentially, in the Senate, where they were engaged in a blocking operation, they did not have the ticker because they know that their position simply does not add up. So now we not only have members of the opposition doing one thing in Canberra and another thing in their electorates; they are doing one thing in the House of Representatives and another thing in the Senate. They are so inconsistent when it comes to nation building.

Of course, they will turn up to announcements. Indeed, the member for Grey, a true coalition opportunist, said this on radio the other day: ‘I’ll attend the opening of any infrastructure programs.’ I am sure he will, and I will keep the member for Grey posted because we will be having infrastructure openings right around the country, whether they be in schools, on level crossings, on roads, on rail or at ports. We are committed to this program. Indeed, we have been getting on with the job. Already, by the end of this month, in Victoria 20 out of 59 level crossings will have been completed—20 level crossings made safer and jobs created while that was occurring. In Queensland eight will have been completed by the end of this month, making these level crossings even safer.

I am pleased to say that I got a bit of correspondence addressed to me just recently. Indeed, it is from the shadow minister for, amongst other things, regional development and infrastructure and transport. That is a pretty serious title. He had this to say:

I write to thank you for identifying the sites Espie Street, Larapinta Drive and Lovegrove Drive in Alice Springs to be included in the boom gates for rail crossings program. As the Northern Territory local member for Braitling, two of these three boom gates are situated within my electorate. Within the past nine months there have been numerous near misses involving train versus vehicle—


Mr Anthony Smith interjecting


Mr ALBANESE —You might want to actually listen to this:

due to the lack of lights not working properly, no boom gates or impatient drivers. This program is a great initiative to improving and preventing accidents at level crossings.


Mr Anthony Smith interjecting


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


Mr ALBANESE —It continues:

I look forward to seeing the work undertaken this financial year.

Yours sincerely

Adam Giles MLA, member for Braitling, Northern Territory.

Not only is he the member for Braitling, representing the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory and the shadow minister for regional development, infrastructure and transport, he was the Country Liberal Party candidate at the last federal election against the member for Lingiari. So at the last election he stood against this side of the House but now he is prepared to stand up with this side of the House against the opportunism that we see day after day from those opposite. Their opportunism was highlighted today by their folding like a deck of cards in the Senate on our nation-building program legislation.