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Where is the urgent infrastructure legislation?



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Thu, 23rd October 2008 WHERE IS THE URGENT INFRASTRUCTURE LEGISLATION?

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and COAG and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Emissions Trading Design

Three weeks ago, in response to the global financial crisis, Mr Rudd said that he wanted ‘to get cracking to bring major infrastructure projects online earlier than would otherwise would have been the case’ and that his challenge to the Opposition was to ‘support this legislation through the Parliament because we want to get on with the business of nation building.’

And then two weeks ago Mr Rudd and Mr Albanese went on to say they would ‘accelerate the implementation of the Government’s three nation building funds’ and that ‘to fast-track these projects, the Government will be seeking referral of the legislation for the Nation Building Funds to a Senate Committee this week.’

“The Prime Minister said this was one of the five parts of his response to the global financial crisis,” said the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP.

“Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Albanese, called on the Coalition to support his legislation and get out of the way.

“However, three weeks after first being raised, and despite being on today’s House of Representatives Daily program, there is no legislation to discuss; much less support.

“These bills haven’t even been introduced into Parliament let alone referred to a Senate committee.

"The Legislation now won't be introduced until November 10, at the very earliest, and the Prime Minister has already flagged he wants to put it to a Senate Committee - yet they have said they want it in place by the end of the year.

“It is exactly the sort of haste and bungling that the Coalition has been concerned about. It is a shambles.

“How on earth are we meant to believe that this will be a well thought-out, transparent process when they can’t even produce legislation to allow detailed assessment; let alone inform the House why it has been delayed.

“The Coalition will examine the government’s legislation for various infrastructure funds with a view to making sure they work.

“Notwithstanding the verballing by the Government, the Coalition has never said that we will block any infrastructure legislation.

“However, we have said that the Coalition will take ‘a very hard nosed’ approach to evaluating the Building Australia Fund and other infrastructure legislation to satisfy ourselves that the hard earned surplus is spent wisely and in the best possible way

for the Australian community, and not used as a slush fund to bail out incompetent Labor States.

“First and foremost, this must mean transparency in the workings and analysis undertaken in regard to all competing projects.

“This means full disclosure of the results of the cost benefit analysis for projects recommended and for those rejected, including all data, assumptions and models used. It also means transparency of PPP contracts.

“The Coalition is a strong believer in infrastructure. We have a strong record of investing $38 billion in infrastructure through Auslink 1 and Auslink 2 alone.

"The Government is all over the place when responding to this global financial crisis - confusion and delays over infrastructure spending are yet further examples.