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Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Page: 1975

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (17:08): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The purpose of the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill 2014 is to amend the Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Act 2009 and to repeal the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988, the Roads to Recovery Act 2000 and the Railway Standardization (New South Wales and Victoria) Agreement Act 1958.

This Government is committed to building the infrastructure of the 21st century - the infrastructure Australia will need to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The Government is working with state and territory governments to deliver the nationally significant infrastructure projects to grow Australia's productivity and improve living standards. We also need to work in partnership with the private sector to maximise private capital investment in infrastructure. This collaboration between the Australian Government, states and territories and the private sector will enable the successful delivery of the infrastructure Australia expects, industries need and our people deserve.

Through the Infrastructure Investment Programme, the Government has committed $35.5 billion over 6 years to road and rail projects, including:

$6.7 billion to upgrade the Bruce Highway;

$5.6 billion to finish the duplication of the Pacific Highway;

$1.5 billion to the WestConnex project in Sydney;

$1.5 billion for the East-West Link in Melbourne;

$1 billion to continue the Gateway Motorway North upgrade in Brisbane;

$700 million for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing;

$686 million to finish the Gateway WA Project in Perth;

$615 million to build the Swan Valley Bypass on the Perth to Darwin Highway;

$500 million for the upgrade of South Road in Adelaide;

$405 million for the F3 to M2 Link project in Sydney; and

$400 million to continue the Midland Highway upgrade in Tasmania.

The Government has also committed $300 million to finalise plans, engineering design and environmental assessments for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project.

Amendments to the Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Act2009 (the Act) are necessary to facilitate the Government's ambitious land transport infrastructure agenda.

The Bill will rename the Act to the National Land Transport Act 2014. The names of some of the parts of the Act will also be amended to reflect its change of name. This name change also requires consequential amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and the Telstra Corporation Act 1991.

The Bill enables the continuation of the Roads to Recovery Programme (the Programme), which provides vital funding to local governments for the maintenance of the nation's local road infrastructure beyond 30 June 2014.

This change is necessary as the Act currently specifies the Roads to Recovery funding period as ending on 30 June 2014. The Bill removes the specification of the funding period from the Act and places it in the Roads to Recovery List. This removes the need to amend the Act every time the Roads to Recovery funding period changes, and ensures that this very important programme will continue.

The Bill also inserts a power for the Minister to determine a Roads to Recovery List, which is essential for the Programme to be able to function. The Roads to Recovery List will be exempt from disallowance under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003, which will provide certainty for the local government funding recipients of the Programme.

The Bill also streamlines and enhances the operation of the Act by combining Part 3, National Projects, and Part 6, Off-Network Projects, into one Part for Investment Projects. Parts 3 and 6 contain a significant number of identical provisions. By combining the two parts into one this will removes unnecessary duplication of provisions.

The new Part 3 for Investment Projects also includes a new requirement that states and territories notify the Minister as soon as possible after the sale or disposal of land that was acquired using Australian Government funding. This will ensure a timely response to land sales or disposals from both the states and territories and the Australian Government. The proceeds of the sale or disposal can then be allocated to new infrastructure projects.

The Bill also slightly alters one of the reasons for granting states and territories an exemption from the public tender requirements in Part 3. Work that costs less than an amount prescribed by regulations can currently be exempted and this is being altered so that the amount is determined instead by legislative instrument. This alteration will reduce regulatory delays.

The Bill introduces a new type of project that can receive funding under Part 4 of the Act - Transport Development and Innovation Projects. Projects that involve research, investigations, studies or analysis of Investment or Black Spot projects, previously funded Off-Network projects, and works funded under the Roads to Recovery Programme, will be eligible for Part 4 funding. This amendment will enhance the management of projects and the Infrastructure Investment Programme. Part 4 funding will also be able to be used for analysis of projects submitted for consideration for funding as Investment or Black Spot projects, to help inform advice to Government.

The Bill also adds two new types of eligible funding recipient into the Act. Partnerships have been added as an eligible funding recipient for Parts 4 and 5 of the Act. This change will simplify funding arrangements for firms without a body corporate structure. Non-corporate Commonwealth entities whose functions include research related to land transport research operations will now be able to receive funding under Part 5 - Funding for land transport research entities.

The Government has committed to the continuation of the Black Spot Programme, which provides funding to address road sites that are high risk areas for serious crashes. Black Spot Projects are administered under Part 7 of the Act and the Bill makes a few changes to that Part as a result of the Act's name change.

The Bill makes no amendments to the National Land Transport Network, a vital component of the Infrastructure Investment Programme. This Network contains the key road and rail links connecting Australia.

The Bill also repeals three spent land transport infrastructure Acts. The Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988 was superseded by the then AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005, now the Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Act 2009. There are no outstanding claims under the Australian Land Transport Development Act andconsequently it should be repealed.

The Bill also repeals the Roads to Recovery Act 2000. The Roads to Recovery Programme commenced under this Act and in 2005 the Programme was moved into the then AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005, now the Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Act 2009. There are no outstanding claims under the Roads to Recovery Act and consequently it should be repealed.

The Bill further repeals the Railway Standardization (New South Wales and Victoria) Agreement Act 1958. This Act incorporates an agreement between the Australian Government, New South Wales and Victoria to implement gauge standardisation, with the Australian Government loaning funding to New South Wales and Victoria for that purpose. These works were completed in 1962 and the last loan repayments were received in June 2013. As the loan has been repaid the Railway Standardization New South Wales and Victoria Act can now be repealed.

The amendments to the Nation Building Program Act, and the repeal of the three spent acts, do not have any regulatory or financial impacts on businesses and the not-for-profit sector.

Australia's future growth will be significantly influenced by our capacity to deliver more appropriate, efficient and effective infrastructure. The amendments in this Bill will help to better deliver the infrastructure Australia critically needs.

I commend the Bill to the House.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Ruston ): In accordance with standing order 111, further consideration of this bill is now adjourned to 13 May 2014.