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National Press Club -

View in ParlView

At the National Press Club today National Press Club today the new Minister for infrastructure,
transport, Regional Development and local Government Anthony Albernese. He is also Leader of the
House of reps but today his focus is on the first of that range of responsibilities with a speech
titled "Driving greater productive and an prosperity through infrastructure un ". Ladies and
gentlemen welcome to the National Press Club and today's National Bank address. Very pleased today
to welcome Anthony Albernese who is not here nor the first time but probably the first time in this
capacity since he was sworn in only on 3 December as the Minister for infrastructure, transport,
Regional Development and local Government. As the Speaker put it the other day "Infrastructure and
a lot of other stuff". In the transport realm he has the good fortune to be the member of the
electorate next to Sydney Airport, one of his abiding joys over the years and one of the things
which will be an increasing issue of national debate over the of national debate over the next few
years is his responsibility for infrastructure under a brief from the Coalition of Australian
governments which is moving forward fairly Rapley now. Anthony has been a member of the Labor Party
since he was 16 and he has had quite a long experience of opposition and parliamentary committee
systems since he entered the Parliament in 1996. Infrastructure is Infrastructure is one of the
things he wants to talk to you most about today. Please welcome Anthony Albernese. Thank you very
much, Ken. I must say this is not my first trip to the Press Club but it is pleasing to be here as
a minister in the Rudd Labor Government. I want to acknowledge my colleagues, particularly
particularly the Parliamentary Secretary Garry Gray, Tim Turner, the Member for lie card who
achieved the amazing swing of 15 per cent at the election in November last year and Senator Ruth
Mark Webber from Western Australia. I want to begin with a quote. "Infrastructure is the basic
framework or underlying foundation of an organisation or a system."

"It's also the roads, railways, schools and other capital equipment which comprise such an
underlying system within a country or region. "

This pretty dry definition comes from the Macquarie Dictionary.

Some might argue that it's appropriate because they see infrastructure as a dry topic.

More often than not coverage of infrastructure tends to be in the economic and financial pages of
our media.

Well, it's certainly true that infrastructure is an economic issue.

Addressing infrastructure shortfalls is a key component of the Government's 5 point plan to tackle
inflation, sitting alongside our commitment to address the skills shortage following 20 separate
warnings from the Reserve Bank.

Though important to our economy, infrastructure is so much more than an economic issue.

A member of the press gallery yesterday suggested that I make the title of today's speech- Making
Infrastructure Sexy.

While I might get away with this on the day after the Press Gallery Ball, in the first sitting
weeks of Parliament over-reaching is an accusation to be avoided.

I do want to argue, however, that infrastructure is indeed central to the quality of life of each
and every Australian.

It is therefore an important component of Labor's social agenda.

It's about running water when you turn the tap on.

It's about lighting up a room when you flick a switch.

It's about being able to log on to the internet and download things in seconds, not minutes.

It's about the schools our kids go to, the hospitals that treat the sick, the transport networks we
use to get to or from work or leisure activities.

We often take infrastructure for granted until it fails us.

Inadequate infrastructure leads to problems like urban congestion.

Many working parents spend more time commuting in their cars, than at home with their children.

We know that infrastructure shortfalls are costing us 0.8 per cent of GDP or $8 billion a year in
lost production, but the real impact is the loss of quality of life for working families and the
brake it places on improvements in living standards.

Labor's Agenda

Action on infrastructure coordination is long overdue.

There is of course precedent for an opposition making commitments about greater infrastructure
coordination before coming to Office.

In 1995, when John Howard was Opposition Leader he said that he'd:

"been struck by the need to improve the coordination of infrastructure policy at the
Commonwealth-State level".

Yet upon coming to Office, the former Prime Minister did nothing more than blame the States for the
next 11 and half years and took no action to fix the problem he'd correctly identified.

We know that planning and coordination are essential to effective economic management.

Not just because the Rudd Labor Government says so.

Not even because a myriad of industry groups such as the Business Council of Australia, The
Australian Industry Group, CEDA, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Engineers Australia have
been championing such an approach for many years.

It's simply because it has been proven to work.

The last election campaign saw the Australian public draw a distinction between the visions of the
two major Parties.

Labor put forward a long term plan with a vision that extends well beyond the 3 year electoral

Not just a plan for infrastructure but one that responds to our nation's other key long term
challenges - climate change and the skills deficit.

Our infrastructure plan is consistent with our history as a nation building party.

Ben Chifley courageously started the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme,

Gough Whitlam gave us practical infrastructure solutions like building sewerage systems in our
outer suburbs, and the creation of the Department of Urban and Regional Development.

The Hawke/Keating Government introduced the 'Better Cities' program focusing on urban renewal.

The Rudd Labor Government will build on that tradition and adapt it to the needs of the new

Already we have committed to:

? rolling out a Fibre-To-The-Node broadband network as an essential component of a modern economy;

? investing in innovative solutions to secure our water supply including recycling and desalination
plants; and

? developing a National Emissions Trading Scheme, innovative renewable energy solutions and clean
coal technology.

This Government has also put housing back on the national political agenda.

Through our Housing Affordability Fund the Government will address the cost of developing new
infrastructure associated with housing development in new suburbs such as water, sewerage,
transport and parklands.

The Government's commitment to the future is an ongoing commitment to economic reform.

In a globalised economy, if you stand still the world will pass you by.

Infrastructure is a central part of our five point plan to combat inflation.

The Government has identified transport, energy, water and communications infrastructure as
priority areas.

The first step is getting the policy structure right.

And at the heart of that structure is Infrastructure Australia.

We said we'd create a Department of Infrastructure, we've done that.

We said we'd create a Federal Infrastructure Minister and on the 3rd of December I was appointed to
the role.

We said we'd create Infrastructure Australia within the Government's first 100 days - and at the
first Cabinet meeting on the 21st of January in Perth we agreed on the structure and functions of
the organisation.

The COAG Working Group on Infrastructure met for the first time on the 23rd of January.

This meeting was scheduled for 3 hours but concluded in just over 2 hours because there was
agreement around the table on the program for reform.

There is a consensus that the time for talk is over. It is now time to get on with the job.

Tomorrow I will introduce into the House of Representatives the Infrastructure Australia Bill 2008.

Soon I will be appointing the 12 members of the Infrastructure Australia Statutory Advisory

Three will be come from the Commonwealth, 3 from the States, 1 from Local Government and
importantly 5 from the private sector, including the Chair.

The direct involvement of the private sector in such a critical body represents an enormous step
forward and is a recognition that the public sector must work in partnership with the private
sector to achieve the desired long term goals.

The Infrastructure Australia Advisory Council will be assisted by the Office of Infrastructure
Coordination, which will be based in Sydney and headed by the Infrastructure Coordinator.

Infrastructure Australia will advise governments, investors, as well as the owners and users of
infrastructure on matters including:

o national infrastructure priorities;

o the policy and regulatory reforms needed to improve the efficient utilisation of national
infrastructure networks;

o options to address impediments to the development and provision of efficient national
infrastructure; and

o possible financing mechanisms.

Importantly, Infrastructure Australia will advise on ways in which barriers or disincentives to
investing in nationally significant infrastructure can be removed. This will include:

o improving the efficiency of delivery of projects;

o aligning infrastructure plans across all levels of government;

o harmonising guidelines, legislation and regulations across jurisdictions; and

o standardising formats in tender documents and contracts to facilitate consideration of
infrastructure proposals and promote best practice procurement to expedite decision-making.

Issues such as pricing and regulatory reform are critically important to further investment and is
an area where we can take early action.

Throughout this year Infrastructure Australia will conduct its national audit.

And in March 2009, Infrastructure Australia will deliver to COAG its first Infrastructure Priority

The absence of a pipeline of projects is an impediment to infrastructure investment and to
infrastructure delivery.

Situations have developed whereby you either have, at one end of the spectrum, the Cross City
Tunnel, the M7 Westlink and the Epping-Chatswood Rail line all being under construction
simultaneously in Sydney, or at the other end of the spectrum, insufficient projects to ensure
ongoing work for the construction industry.

National coordination means greater long term certainty for constructors, owners, investors; and of
course users.

And it will lead to more competitive markets, with benefits for the economy and consumers.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

One particular set of guidelines in need of an urgent overhaul and national consistency are those
that underpin the assessment of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

Therefore, today I can announce best practice, nationally consistent guidelines for PPPs will be
finalised this year.

It is an ambitious timetable that further underscores our commitment to economic reform.

This measure will assist in unlocking funds for additional infrastructure investment.

Consistent State and Commonwealth rules would save governments and businesses time and money.

I often hear about the exorbitant and sometimes prohibitive bidding costs faced by potential
investors and consortia wishing to build projects.

Leighton Holdings Executive General Manager of Operations has stated that firms currently spend up
to $30 million on bids and engage hundreds of staff to finalise complex tenders.

Not only does this lock out some smaller investors and businesses but it also places a great burden
on the public sector involved in evaluating the bids.

It's money that should be spent on improving project outcomes.

Nationally consistent, best practice PPP guidelines will make it simpler and less expensive for
local and international financiers to invest in local infrastructure.

The appropriate use of PPPs can provide significant benefits to the public sector such as access to
specialists expertise and the transfer of risk to those in a better position to manage it.

The nationally consistent guidelines will ensure that all procurement processes, including PPPs
maximise value for money, transparency, and public accountability.

In the past some PPPs have enabled too great a scope for investment advisory fees, legal fees, and
management and service fees in the structure of the project.

Better guidelines and a competitive environment are needed.

To ensure we get value for money through PPP arrangements it is vital that we develop and apply a
robust Public Sector Comparator to all potential PPP projects.

The Public Sector Comparator reflects the most efficient public sector delivery option likely to be
achieved for the relevant project and should be used as the benchmark against which PPP options are

The Public Sector Comparator must be robust and it must accurately reflect risks involved in
specific projects.

After all it is taxpayers' money that is being spent.

Best practice is not static - much has been learnt from previous PPP experiences and our knowledge
base will continue to grow.

Maintaining best practice will be an ongoing task for Infrastructure Australia.

Financing of Infrastructure

There is no doubt that overcoming our infrastructure backlog and preparing for the future will
require substantial investment.

ABN AMRO has estimated that over the next decade, total infrastructure spending in Australia could
reach $400 billion.

The Government must consider a range of financing options if we are to adequately meet current and
future infrastructure demand.

Under the Howard Government Australia fell to 20th out of 25 OECD countries for investment in
public infrastructure as a proportion of GDP.

This failure to invest in nation building infrastructure occurred at a time of unprecedented growth
in Government revenue as a result of the mining boom.

While we support private investment in infrastructure, this does not abrogate the Government's
responsibility to fund nation building projects.

The Government sees spending on infrastructure as an investment in the nation's future prosperity -
not just a cost.

We recognise that if you fund infrastructure, it can increase economic returns to the Government
and, over the lifetime of the project, have substantial productivity benefits.

Assessment must be made on a project by project basis and consider all financing options - public
provision, private provision or a combination of both.

Above all ideology alone should not determine which option is taken up.

The extraordinary delay by the previous Government in amending Sections 51AD and Division 16D of
the Income Tax Assessment Act which were designed to encourage private investment in
infrastructure, highlighted how infrastructure financing reform was simply not one of their

Superannuation funds

One of the most significant changes to occur in Australian financial and investment markets over
recent times has been the growth of superannuation funds.

These funds now hold over $1.1 trillion in assets - around the same size as Australia's annual GDP.

Australia has the 4th largest funds management industry in the world, with fund managers seeking to
create a balanced portfolio of investments.

Using superannuation as infrastructure investment capital makes sense.

Infrastructure assets offer a long term secure investment option with a consistently good rate of
return and present as a good option for investment of superannuation capital.

Trustees of super funds do not have enough options for investment in Australian infrastructure.

Leadership in identifying projects and structuring them in an appropriate way is vital.

Super funds, in the absence of such leadership, typically invest money into Australian and
international equities and even offshore infrastructure.

The development of a pipeline of projects steadily on offer to potential investors provides a real

Put simply the nation is faced with a situation where we have a strong demand for infrastructure
development on the one hand, and a substantial supply of capital on the other.

With the right leadership we can put these together.

The Urban Challenge

It is also time the Commonwealth re-engaged in the development of our cities.

Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world - with over 64 per cent of the
population living in our capital cities.

Our cities are critical to the economy, with ABS data showing that Australia's 8 capital cities
contributed to 78 per cent of the nation's economic growth between 2001 and 2006.

So our economic prosperity will in great part depend on the ability of our cities to operate
successfully and a critical challenge for Infrastructure Australia will be the issue of urban

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates urban congestion will cost
families and businesses nearly $20 billion by 2020.

With the freight task set to double by 2020 the greatest impact will be in urban areas particularly
around ports, intermodal terminals and distribution centres.

Freight must be able to move seamlessly from the farm gate to the kitchen table and from the mines
to the ports.

Of course, a policy for moving goods will not work without a policy for moving people.

It is motorists in their cars much more than truckies in their cabs that are clogging our cities.

When it comes to transport we must look at the whole picture.

We cannot address climate change and unclog our cities without addressing the sustainability of our
urban transport networks.

Auslink has some benefits but it hasn't gone far enough.

Up until now its focus is on stand alone projects rather than looking at transport as an integrated

To achieve this perspective, we must consider a mix of policy objectives, funding, and economic and
regulatory reforms.

With this in mind, I have commissioned the National Transport Commission to development a national
policy framework and national infrastructure plan for all modes of transport - particularly roads,
rail, shipping and aviation.

This work will dovetail with the work of Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure Australia will consider the sustainability of our cities and the critical importance
of infrastructure for regional development.

In recent times, the Coalition, but particularly the National Party, has ignored the vital role of
infrastructure in regional economic development and reduced regional policy to a series of
electorally motivated short-term funding announcements.


The ability of the Government to undertake infrastructure policy reform and coordinate
infrastructure investment will determine whether Australia will have the sustained productivity
growth necessary to meet challenges such as climate change, ageing of the population, and

The Rudd Government is firmly focused on the future agenda.

National leadership means taking action to remove barriers to new infrastructure investment by:

o ending the blame game and working with all levels of government;

o reinvigorating the Commonwealth Government's commitment to COAG's competition and regulatory

o creating a favourable fiscal environment for potential investors;

o creating a policy framework that provides consistent regulation, and gets pricing and access
regimes right;

o ensuring efficient planning and coordination to create a range of investment options for
investors; and

o perhaps most importantly, looking at infrastructure investment beyond the prism of a three-year
election cycle.

The Rudd Labor Government has already shown such leadership and foresight by moving quickly to
create Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure provision is not just a cost, it's an investment.

And in partnership with all levels of governments and the private sector, we have the best
opportunity to secure our nation's future.

Infrastructure provision is not just a cost, it is an investment and in partnership with with all
levels of Government and the private sector we have a tremendous opportunity to meet meet this new
challenge as part of the Rudd Government's nation-building agenda. Thank you very much. Thank you
minister. As usual a series of questions. From the financial From the financial review minister.
Two questions vaguely related. The Labor Party has said in opposition and now in Government that
infrastructure bottlenecks is one way of addressing inflation which obviously is a long-term
proposition but I wonder what your expectation is about how much infrastructure investment can
actually be facilitated by the reforms you the reforms you are talking about in your first term
ghifn that the economy is already red hot and there are not really the skills bases and Labour
force to really build much else. You talked about financing methods. The environment minister
recently announced an environmental study of the Kimberley and talked about the possibility of
looking at a multi-user hub for hub for the Kimberley gas production. Would you think that it was
appropriate for competitive reasons for the Government to actually build that hub itself rather
than get the people involved building it and therefore run ring into potential competitive problems
later on?

Thank you very much

. On the first question - it On the first question - it is clear that you need a comprehensive
approach. A strategy for infrastructure will not work unless there is always strategy for skills
development. The to go together. At the moment of course the failure of the previous Government on
skills means that costs of infrastructure development are substantially increased. are
substantially increased. But in terms of the immediate gains that can be got this term, I am very
hopeful that we can have a substantial agenda in place with runs on the board by the time of the
next election. The first thing is getting the foundations right and that is foundations right and
that is what Infrastructure Australia is doing. We have acted with considerable urgency. That is
why by the time Infrastructure Australia's board meets for the first time we will have had two COAG
infrastructure working group meetings, a report from that working group to the COAG meeting that
will be held in March, we will have had considerable work done by had considerable work done by the
national Transport Commission on a national transport policy framework. We will have also had in
place discussions at senior levels of the Government prioritiseing not what the answer are but what
the questions are for Infrastructure Australia. Hence the Hence the commitment today to this year
making progress on public-private partnership consistent guidelines. A lot of the problems with
infrastructure are not about spending money. A lot of the problem - the low-hanging fruit is about
the coordination that can be done, about getting those policy fame works right. What are are the
impediments to investment? Why is it that the changes to the income tax assessment act which were
proposed in an exposure draft, I think going back as far as 2004, perhaps even earlier, nothing
happened until the going days of the Howard Government. These are change change Tasmania are not
about our current fiscal situation that can be done. With regard to the Kimberley issue, one of the
great advantages of having a body such as Infrastructure Australia is it will be able to advice on
competitive issues, regarding these developments. At the moment developments. At the moment - at
the moment and throughout our history there has not actually been a structure in place where the
Commonwealth t state, together with the private sector could actually have that discussion, make
recommendations to Government. So I think that regarding the specific question I think that is one
of the reasons or highlights of the reasons or highlights one of the reasons you would want
Infrastructure Australia to do just that T competitive issues obviously need to be considered in
terms of the hub proposal. The hub proposal is an attempt to balance economic development with good
environmental outcomes and I think the Environment Minister u my colleague, is doing a terrific job
of that. terrific job of that. Andrew Fraser from the Canberra Times much you place gate emphasis
ton the need to tackle urban congestion and you mention the pressing fact that it is climate change
yet when you talked about developing a national policy framework the first mentioned item was
roads. Shouldn't we be looking to get cars off our roads now as both an environmental and an
environmental and an economic imperative and is not public transport provision still a lower-order

Thank you for the question, Andrew. What I spoke about was the need for an integrated France port
strategy and one that you - you should not have whether it be freight, transport of goods or
transport of people. You should not have in my should not have in my view a process that says it is
all about roads or it is all about rail. You need to have an integrated strategy that looks at
Transport as a whole. For example, I note many people from the shipping industry here today. The
issue of coast fall shipping is something that needs to be considered as well in term of considered
as well in term of our freight task. We need to look at it in an integrated fashion and certainly
one of the issues that I am foreshadowing in the Commonwealth's re-engagement in our cities is that
the Commonwealth is prepared to talk about transport network both road and rail, both road and
rail, when it comes to our cities, including public transport provision. At the moment you have
AusLink, which while many of the projects are worthwhile, to consider for example transport to
ports that stops in terms of a national involvement or national strategy when it gets to gets to
the outskirts of our cities is quite clearly inadequate, quite clearly inadequate. When I spoke
about the fact that many Australian working families are spending more time commuting in their cars
than they are at home with their kid with the consciousal kid with the consciousal social outcomes
clearly public transport provisions has to be, has to be part of the solution. The Rudd Government
is prepared to engage in a dialogue T previous Government said "That's got anything to do with us,
we don't want to talk to you about it". We want to engage in a dialogue because you need that
comprehensive transport solution if you are actually going going to be fair dinkum about achieving

'Sydney Morning Herald'. I understand today the Federal Department of transport is meeting with
various airlines that use the Sydney Airport. My question business that. Does the minister think
there is any merit in changing the existing curfews in place existing curfews in place at Sydney

No. (laughs) The current curfew gets the balance right. There is a balance to be had between the
commercial operations of an airport and the fact that airports and other pieces of economic
infrastructure economic infrastructure exist in communities. Sydney Airport happens to exist in a
community that is the most densely populated area of Australia not just Sydney. So getting that
balance right is also, might I say in the interests of Sydney Airport, and of airlines. There are
some who argue that Sydney some who argue that Sydney Airport is something that is not necessary,
should be moved or closed. I support Sydney Airport as a critical piece of economic infrastructure
for the nation. But I also say that the owner of the airport need the bear in mind the need the
maintain public support by it by being good neighbours by being good neighbours T curfew is about
good neighbourly relations between the airport and the people who live around it and on my watch it
will stay.

Minister, Australian Associated Press. As an aside to the previous question, do you feel you have
any conflict of interest in being both an Member of Parliament for a seat that for a seat that does
have many problems with the curfew at the airport and also being Transport Minister? And if I could
now get into my question - just about roads funding...

Thank you for your question!

On roads funding during the last election there were many billions thrown around by both sides. I
wonder if you would take this opportunity today the recommit the Government the all of Government
the all of the promises it made and whether you feel there are any promises regarding roads funding
the Liberal Party made which you think could help in that capacity constraint fight?

Thank you V on the first question, um, Brisbane airport has the Prime Minister and the Treasurer
around it. Kings Treasurer around it. Kings forward Smith airport has the Environment Minister, the
Attorney-General, myself as the Transport Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the bloke who
wants to be Leader of the Opposition all as members around Sydney Airport. I could go through each
of the airports and the seats but I think you get the idea. idea. I actually think it is a great
benefit for my understanding of this portfolio the fact that I live close to not just the airport
but the Port Botany, to other pieces of economic infrastructure in dealing with our urban
challenges. I have a history going back well before I well before I was a Member of Parliament and
I served on the transport committee of the House of Representatives, I come into this portfolio
having never been the shadow minister but having focused on these issues over the 12 long dark
years of opposition. So I think it is a positive rather than a negative. I have a constructive
recommends constructive recommends ship with the owner of Sydney Airport. In spite of the
occasional issue which I am prepared as someone who is pretty straight-talking the say that they
handled the plan in terms of the plan in terms of the runway extension area which will leave a
closing of the runway approach appallingly. To announce that three days before the election is
appalling and I told then so of I would tell the owner of any airport in Australia that that was
appalling regardless of where it was and what electorate I represented. So electorate I
represented. So I've made that clear and indeed I made that clear to them not just on behalf of
myself but on behalf of the Prime Minister who I met with to discuss the issue just prior to the
meeting with Sydney Airport. With regard to our promises - we have a absolute commitment not just
the Pete our promises that we made on transport but made on transport but to meet awe our
commitments across the board. That is something that will characterise the Rudd Government, that is
part of our compact with the Australian people. You have heard nothing of core an non-core promises
like you heard from the now opposition after 1996. We went through a rigorous fiscal discipline
when making our commitments, when making our commitments, I assure you. It was very difficult to
get commitments whether it be in my old areas of infrastructure or water, or in other areas without
it going through to the extent you can in opposition, where you do not obviously have the resources
of Government, a rigorous fiscal discipline. Our promises add up. Their promises, where they
established established AusLink2 and over spent by somewhere in the order, depending on where you
add up, what you include, but let's be conservative - they over spent by at least $3 billion. So
when people look at their promises they simply could not be fulfilled, could not be fulfilled.
Whether it not be fulfilled. Whether it be in this area Whether it be in Regional Development or in
a host of other areas where they simply over-committed and you had situations whereby during the
election campaign to use an example the Transport Minister went, National Minister went, National
Party Transport Minister went to Singleton and notified the mayor, he was pretty excited, the
Transport Minister is coming, he is a Nat, there must be money in it! The minister was in Tamworth
and he drove and on the way he drove through drove through Muswellbrook, he announced the bypass
there. So little effort and care was put into that commitment that it was made in the wrong town!
It was made in the wrong town! Take the audit office report into the funding for the Australian
Railtrack corporation, what they used to do, every year in June 2004, 2004, 5, 6 is tip out a
bucket of money to them in this case over $800 million over the three years and what the audit
office found was that there was no actual plan for it. They had so much revenue coming in, this is
at a time of significant infrastructure shortages, so much revenue coming in they just needed to
shove it off the books so they gave the books so they gave it to ARTC in the order of 30 million
plus on average three years in a row in June. For one of those they then made an announcement that
this was to be for the NSW north coast. Now hat the audit office has found, the Nationals audit
office as I've renamed it today, has found, was this the Government had Government had announced
that that would be for NSW north coast rail. But audit office found that it was actually used from
Melbourne to Junee. No wonder they lost the south-east Paige, they couldn't find it! This was a
Government that made commitments spending money that simply was not there, that cannot be that
cannot be believed. Our commitment is to fulfil each and everyone of our commitments across the
spectrum of portfolios.

Next question from brat Watts. 'Daily Telegraph'. There has been a lot of the usual less about
Sydney Airport t planned east-west runway closure has drawn a lot of criticism criticism from
business groups and people using the airport. Can you allay concerns to say this closure will not
affect people living in the area that could face up to 17 hours of overhead floigts and the
Canberra airport t bottlenecks, massive flight delays. Are you going to look at this issue on your

I will make will make further announcements down the track about aviation but with regard to in
general the specifics I've said before I am pretty state-talking. I intend to be just that. What I
will not do is do what some groups do around Sydney Airport which is say, close the airport, we
will not open one - they one - they are against opening it anywhere else either. I am not sure how
people get into Sydney except by parachute, I am not sure how they get out! They are the people who
have put forward this agenda. But I am terms of there is a catch 22 situation with this east-west
runway extension. The fact is it has to happen because it has to happen because international civil
aviation guidelines have changed, they have required for a longer run-off area at each runway. This
is beyond our control. This is about safety. We will not compromise safety. Whatsoever! That has to
to be first consideration of any Transport Minister. Five of the six runways at Sydney Airport have
been Airport have been completed. The most difficult one has been left and left and left and the
announcement was made koipsly on November 27 through days after the election that that would take
place. That will result in some disruption so no I will not give an assurance. You cannot do a
major work such as that without having as that without having some disruption T question is how do
we minimise the disruption and we are committed to minimising the disruption as far as the Federal
Government is concerned. That means minimising the time in which the works take place, minimising
the impact both on commuters but also on resident in resident in terms of the noise-sharing plans
that are there. But Sydney airport announced on Friday that they will Smith a major development
plan. I would encourage them to get on with submitting the major development plan which will then
go out for 60 days of input and I will certainly and with and with my department, we have engaged
independent engineering advice to make sure that everything is done which minimises the disruption
caused by this extension. But to not - to say no as some would like me to do in a populist fashion,
just say "Oh well, don't extend the runway because if you do that then there will you do that then
there will be disruption of race dents". Well, if that happens, if the runways not extended then it
chooses permanently. So the work needs to be done, I is a catch 22. It is no good just saying no on
this. That is something that I am confident that the community will understand and respect that,
the Government is doing everything it can and I everything it can and I expect Sydney Airport to do
everything they can the minimise the disruption that will occur.

Clinton portus from the Courier-Mail. You talked about public private partner ships, especially
roads, a pretty straight question - can people look forward to more also and what will wrote you do
to try to cap them so we are not pay incorporated incorporated 10, $15 to go on a road? The price
of crude oil last night broke through $10 a bar yes. As Transport Minister how can you go on
allowing a 10 per cent GDP on all motorists as the price of fuel keeps going up. There is any
limit? If it hits $1.70 will the Government still take out 17 cents a litre?

take out 17 cents a litre?

Thanks! Public private partnerships do not necessarily just lead to tolls. PPPs can be a whole
range of act testament is the. Indeed, some of the most successful PPPs - and I draw your attention
towards education and the builting of schools in NSW - what that has meant is that it has meant is
that it is the private sector that have taken responsibility for building these schools and
importantly as part of to arrange amounts that are put in place, maintaininging the schools. That
means that the school community can get on with its core business. Its core business is improving
the educational capacity of its kids, its students. It has been has been an extremely successful
project. So there are a variation of outcomes that can come from PPPs. With regard to taxation
matters, as you would expect, I refer you to the Treasurer.

I've got I've got two questions too and the common thread between them...

Everyone gets two questions!

Well, because u is such a big portfolio, infrastructure! They both relate to balances that were
picked up by the Whitlam Government then dropped by its success your and have not been taken up
since T first is about transparency and a tradition was started in the Whitlam Government that
projects should be coulded by the bureau of transport economics as it was then and those costings
made public. In the interests of having informed public debate. I notice there was fog said about
that in your speech today. I wonder has Labor got any plans to increase transparency in this way?
And the second question relates to your earlier comments about urban public transport was that we
had a program in the Whitlam Government to give grants to the States for urban public transport
works. Could you see the dialogue you envisage with the States on cities leading to a new program
of Commonwealth grants for Commonwealth grants for urban public transport?

Thank you, Tim.

On the first question of transparency, I very much see transparency as one of the core functions of
Infrastructure Australia. When you look at the legislation that will go to the Parliament tomorrow
you will find a number of things. One is that I One is that I can ask as the Minister for
Infrastructure Australia to conduct certain studies. What I can't do is ask for an outcome. There
is a very explicit, very explicit statement in the legislation making clear that that is out of
bounds. Very important. The second thing we have done is build in we have done is build in
transparency into the legislation. Infrastructure Australia will produce annual reports at a - that
are tabled in the Parliament, in the Parliament. They will be available. In terms of the
deliberations which occur with Infrastructure Australia. One of the things we have done in moving
to a statutory advisory statutory advisory council is ensure that people can actually have a debate
and input that will include serious players from industry. That is why it is a statutory advisory
council rather than another structure which we considered. How do you get people to put forward
advice dealing with advice dealing with the potential that there is for conflict of interest and
pee Kuni interests to be declared? The legislation does also require members of the Infrastructure
Australia body to exclude themselves if they have a direct interest in term of any project. I think
we have the balance right. In terms of transparency, transparency, I think that is very - a very
critical role and I did state in terms of the functions of Infrastructure Australia that have been
agreed it is a critical function in assessing what the best financing options are. I think one of
the concerns that has been raised in the past about particular projects that have been done is that
people have found out is that people have found out later on too much details about the financial
arrangements. If you are going to have confidence in the system, I think you have got to be
up-front about these issues. There is of course the catch yacht that from time the time there are
commercial in confidence decisions and I do not want to give an impression to be pulled up later on
that you said everything would said everything would be out in the open. If there are some
commercial in confidence decisions from time to time obviously there are legal But this is a
transparent Government. We have had this policy out for two years where I've where I've been
sitting around booed rooms and sitting with partners in the labour movement, addressing conference
essay round the nation about our Infrastructure Australia agenda, today. We have got better because
of the fact that we spent two years crossing Ts and doting Is means that when I first met with the
secretary of with the secretary of my department who is here today, the first thing I raised with
him was "Righto, we have this Infrastructure Australia agenda, that is our No.1 priority. We have
committed to 100 days, now how do we make it happen? " And we have! From in terms of that base I
think it has been particularly important and the whole the whole process has been very transparent.
With regard to urban public transport I certainly indicate that I think you need a nationally
integrated transport strategy that. Does not mean that we are going to have buses or trains with
the Commonwealth logo on them. It does not men that at all. What it does mean is that the
Commonwealth needs needs to engage with the States, with the private sector in how we address the
challenges of urban congestion and part of that, part of that is about roads, part of that is about
public transport and at the moment part of the problem is this silo approach to things. Can you you
cannot consider in eye view road funding without considering the other transport linkages that are
there as well. Therefore it seems to me to be just commonsense, just commonsense, that through
Infrastructure Australia, through the national Transport Commission Transport Commission review
there be progress made on these issues. So I am not over-commiting to what we are doing and I do
not want to give the impression that there is about to be a bucket-load of thanny giving to this
task but what it needs is Commonwealth engagement in an integrated national transport strategy. and
she spent much of her life trying to avoid being typecast in that role. When she did break the
mould, she says it was like being let out of prison. Her successful career has tracked the fortunes
of musical theatre in Australia. This week's Talking Head is Marina Prior. THEME MUSIC Marina,
lovely to meet you.

You, too.

Thanks for coming on Talking Heads.


What's it like, as a young woman, being cast in the role of a princess?

It's great, when you're a young woman. And you generally play the good girl, if you're the soprano,
because you have a sweet, high voice, so it lends itself to sweet characters.

Or... this is characters in the mould of, uh... romantic heroines.

That's right, absolutely. And that's wonderful when you're at a certain stage in your life, um...
it's very gratifying and fantastic, but there comes a time - or there came a time - for me, where I
really felt like I had more... ..more scope to offer.

You had to explore more.

I did.

Is... is that, then, risky behaviour for a singer to do that - you know, to become the vamp having
been the princess?

Ah, well... when I did my first vamp role, which was in 'Guys and Dolls', I was asked to play the
lovely young Salvation Army heroine, and I actually put my hand up, and said, "Can I play the
naughty girl?" Um, and I had to audition to prove that I could actually do it. And I had a lot of
friends and colleagues that were telling me it was career suicide to actually... to do that.

Why - 'cause it would shatter people's illusions of what you are?

Yeah, and I think what people forget is that when you're on stage playing princesses, you are also
in character, and neither one is actually me.

Let's take a look at where it all began for you. SOFT MERRY MUSIC

Busking wasn't quite as high tech, in my day. We didn't have microphones, or amplifiers, or
anything like that, and you certainly had to sing very loud when the trams went past, so this is
where I got my start. When I was 18 years old, I used to busk here in the Bourke Street mall. I
made pretty good money, too, actually. I used to sing, dance, and as soon as I dropped my energy,
the crowd went away, so I learned, in a very raw way, how to entertain people.


Honestly, from the moment I could speak, I sang. I... some of my earliest memories are just sitting
by myself in a corner - sounds bizarre - with my hands in my ears, so I could hear my voice, sort
of, in my own head, singing Seekers' songs. I was born in New Guinea, and my mum and dad were in
the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Port Moresby - believe it or not. So I grew up with a lot
of music playing, and a lot of singing - just casual singing - in the house. It was just a natural
extension of who I was. I wasn't brought up in a religious household, at all, but I loved it. Even
as a tiny kid, I just really related to the gospel message. I actually made a decision to be a
Christian, myself. It gives me a foundation to, kind of, base my life from. Yeah, I would always
say, "I'm not religious, I'm... I have deep faith." I was very blessed to go to Syndal South
Primary School, just a normal little State primary school, but there was a fantastic music teacher
there called Jeff Core, and he was really creative and really pro-active in uh... making music fun
and exciting. We recorded a single, and I played the electric guitar on it, in 'Seasons in the

SONG: # We had joy We had fun # We had seasons in the sun. #

I went to Korowa Secondary School in Melbourne, that actually had a private music school within it,
and I learned singing there with Merlyn Quaife.


Who then happened to be head of music at Melbourne University. And I did a Bachelor of Music
Education, and by then, I was really serious about studying music, and I had decided I think I was
going to be an opera singer. In 1983, I was finishing second year at uni, and we saw a full-page ad
looking for chorus members of 'The Pirates of Penzance'. I've never done a real audition, and I've
never stood on a real stage. There must have been something, because I ended up getting the lead
role, and basically, kind of, just ran away, and joined the circus, from that moment on. 'Pirates'
had been a fairytale experience, and it was a happy show. And then I did 'Camelot' opposite Richard

SONG: # You could drive A person crazy... #

It was a really harrowing experience.

I am not allowed to drink.

I think people used to always say, "Never work with Yul Brynner or Richard Harris." It really
pushed me to my limit, at a really young age. I had to find out where my mettle was, and how far I
was prepared to let somebody intimidate me, and it was a great experience, for me, because to this
day, no-one intimidates me.

So, Marina, what did Richard Harris get up to, on that opening night?

Well, one particular, uh... night, we were touring with the show, and we were doing an opening
night in front of the critics, and the A-list, and all that sort of thing, and there comes a point
in the show where he asks me, as King Arthur - er, or I ask King Arthur if I can go to the joust.
And Guinevere, my character, has to go to the joust, because otherwise, she doesn't meet Lancelot,
and basically, the show is over, like, in the first 20 minutes. And just on a whim, he said no, and
so it, kind of, floored me, and you've got to remember this is my second show. And the first show
that I did - 'Pirates of Penzance' - I had two lines, so this is my first acting role, and I'm up
against the formidable, brilliant force that is Richard Harris, and I remember... just being agog.
I don't know... what I said.

How did you get out of jail?

I-I just sort of stammered, and blustered, and said, "B-B-But you have to let me, you have to."
And, uh... he toyed with me with this terrible, kind of, sadistic glint in his eye, for... It felt
like about two hours, but it was probably about 20 seconds or so.

Why did he do it?

Well, look, who knows? A perverse, sort of, satisfaction, I think, of control or... I don't know. I
have to say, too, that Richard taught me a great deal about acting and performing, and once he
stopped tormenting me, he was actually very nice.

What did you learn?

I learned about stillness on stage. I learned about projecting, um... right out to the back wall on
stage. I learned lots of skills from him, 'cause he... he was the absolute, consummate actor.

One thing which always fascinates me about performances - those... the need to actually reproduce
excellent performances night after night after night.


Is that... Are you still taking things from the Bourke Street mall to...?

Ah, yeah...

Performances every night.

It's that same discipline, and not allowing yourself to drop your energy. You can't phone it in.
You can't do less than 250% each performance. And I think most performers would feel that. They
just can't - it's not in them to do that.

So what convinced you to go for that audition for 'Pirates'?

One, I've just had this romantic dream of doing a real audition for a real director, and a real
producer, but also, I wanted to stand on a real stage, like the Princess Theatre in Melbourne. I've
never actually stood... I've stood on school stages, and the stage at university and stuff, but...
and the mall in Bourke Street, but I've never actually walked on stage in a real theatre.

And what were your emotions in doing that?

I was just... I thought it was the most beautiful place. It was sacred. I loved it - it was musty
and dusty. And there really were little light globes all around the mirrors in the dressing rooms,
which I thought was just amazing. I had this real, sort of, romantic sense of what it was to be
back stage in the theatre. I just loved the sights and the smells. And I still - to this day, when
I'm standing in the wings - I drink it in, I just drink in the atmosphere. There's nothing like the
feeling of being backstage in a theatre, when you're just about to walk on stage. It's just...

Sounds quite intoxicating.

It is - it's a bit of a drug, it's wonderful, but I am one of those people, however, that when I
walk out the stage door, and get in my car, and drive home, I just drop it, and I'm in another
realm. I'm in, sort of, mum mode. It's really, kind of, like having a split personality.

Well, soon enough, 'Camelot', and then 'Cats' came along for you. Let's take a look.

SONG: # Love me All alone in the... #

So after 'Camelot', I went on to do 'Cats', and 'Cats' was really the beginning of the blockbuster
musicals. There was another show in town that was a big hit at the time, called 'Me and My Girl',
and there was this gorgeous dancer, Peter Lowrey, who was the assistant to the choreographer, and a
friend introduced us. We just, sort of, locked eyes, and that was it. It was a very exciting era.

(Sings) # The phantom of the opera Is there