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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 2412


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (16:27): I rise to speak today because I think this is an incredibly important issue about the future of our infrastructure right through this country. I am very, very concerned that this government is taking us back to the future when it comes to infrastructure planning. Indeed, we see the assistant minister and the minister going back to the dark old days in which a National Party member or maybe a Liberal Party member came knocking on the door and then money was poured out with no consideration of what the long-term impact of that might be and no consideration of long-term coordination.

When we came to government, we put together Infrastructure Australia to ensure that there was a long-term vision for this country. One of the fundamental things that we did—one of the fundamental things that people were saying—was invest in public rail, because what public rail does in our major cities is get cars off the road. If we can invest in better public transport, not only can we reduce carbon emissions but we can help people get to work on time. We can help people in outer metropolitan areas get around our big states.

I was very, very pleased when Infrastructure Australia gave the green light to the Seaford Rail Extension in my electorate. This was an incredibly important rail line, and it will be open very shortly, with the first electrified trains in Adelaide running from Seaford, reducing travelling time to about 43 minutes, which is significant. You cannot drive to the city on the roads. Of course, our vision for public transport was integrated with our road transport network as well as our investment in freight trains.

We had a plan—a big plan that continued working. One of the more recent parts of this plan was the Tonsley park-and-ride. It is just outside my electorate but it would have been very beneficial. Infrastructure Australia recommended it. Agreements between the state and federal governments were made. It provided not only an important park-and-ride and duplication of that electrified rail line but also jobs. Jobs on the Seaford rail extension were coming to an end and, with this agreement between the federal and state governments, we could continue that effort in public infrastructure and make sure that jobs were kept on. So that was about efficiency, effectiveness and looking at public rail as a whole.

Unfortunately, the government—when they were in opposition—decided before the election to can the project. They decided to stop those people who were digging on the rail track at the time. They decided to can those jobs and say, 'It's all over.' Those opposite pulled the money immediately from this project. It was appalling. Then there was a glimmer of hope for this important public rail. I understand that the Premier sat down with the Prime Minister and discussed this issue. It was agreed that this important project would go ahead.

It is really important to have an independent Infrastructure Australia process to ensure that there is a plan. This process also enables some coordination of workers on the ground. Unfortunately, that coordination did not continue when the now assistant minister got onto radio. That is never a good thing for the assistant minister. While the agreement between the Premier of South Australia and the Prime Minister was that this project would go ahead, unfortunately we had some confusion from the assistant minister. This is the transcript about the Tonsley rail. It says:

Tom Koutsantonis: If that's all true could you ask Mr Briggs why the Prime Minister is honouring his commitment to upgrade the Tonsley rail line? It's not [indistinct] rail…

Jamie Briggs: It's freight.

Tom Koutsantonis: No it's passenger, it's passenger service…

Jamie Briggs: It's freight…

Tom Koutsantonis: No it's not freight…

I have not quoted the whole transcript; it continues on. You can see from that that there is an incredible lack of coordination and that there is confusion. Unfortunately, since that interview, when the assistant minister realised that it was passenger rail, the project has been canned. So it was going to be canned, then the Prime Minister said it was back on. Then, unfortunately, the assistant minister got on radio, made a mistake, and it was canned again.

This is similar to what happened with the issue of school reform. I think there is a clear pattern coming out from the government. This project has been in limbo— (Time expired)