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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4067


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Defence, representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Senator Johnston. Can the minister advise the Senate how the budget delivers on the government's commitment to build the roads of the 21st century?

Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (14:58): I thank Senator McKenzie for the question and for her longstanding interest in infrastructure matters, particularly regional infrastructure matters. The coalition government has committed to a record $50 billion infrastructure package in the 2014-15 budget. The government investment in infrastructure across Australia will play a major role in building a strong and a prosperous economy, boosting productivity and creating thousands of new jobs. We have announced an $11.6 billion Infrastructure Growth Package, which is focused on delivering new infrastructure funding, including funding to expedite much needed projects like WestConnex, providing the infrastructure to support an airport in Western Sydney. The government's infrastructure package ensures that communities not on major highways also see the road upgrades they so desperately need by boosting funding to local roads through Roads to Recovery and the Black Spot Program and the commencement of the new Bridges Renewal Program. This is record-breaking, unprecedented infrastructure investment by an Australian government.

On top of the previous Labor government reducing infrastructure spending during their time in government, the six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments saw productivity decrease by an average 0.7 per cent per year, after increasing by a very similar amount every year under the Howard government. So, in short, under Labor we went backwards.

Senator Sterle: Crap!

The PRESIDENT: Order! You need to withdraw that.

Senator Sterle: Sorry, Mr President. I withdraw that.

Senator JOHNSTON: I am just recovering from that expletive. Labor claimed to be committed to upgrading the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway—both absolutely crucial—but demanded fifty-fifty from— (Time expired)

Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaNationals Whip in the Senate) (15:00): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate of the specific budget measures which will help to create road infrastructure to help ease congestion, boost productivity and create jobs?

Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (15:00): The infrastructure package will fund a number of key projects across Australia. We will finish the duplication of the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane by the end of the decade, with $5.6 billion of real, cold hard cash investment. We will begin construction of the East West Link in Melbourne with a $3 billion investment. We will upgrade the north-south corridor in Adelaide, for Senator Xenophon's benefit, with $994 million worth of investment. There is $400 million for the Midland Highway in Tasmania, $111.1 million for the Majura Parkway in the ACT and $100 million to upgrade a number of roads and highways in the Northern Territory. We will continue to build a number of major upgrades around Perth in my home state of Western Australia, including Gateway for $611 million, on top of the $63 million we have already provided; $589 million, on top of the— (Time expired)

Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaNationals Whip in the Senate) (15:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister explain to the Senate the benefits of the budget's Infrastructure Growth Package?

Senator JOHNSTON (Western AustraliaMinister for Defence) (15:02): We will provide an additional $11.6 billion to establish the Infrastructure Growth Package, which will fast-track investment in critical infrastructure across the country. In that package is $5 billion over five years towards the Asset Recycling Initiative, which provides incentive payments to encourage the states and the territories to sell assets and recycle the sale proceeds into new infrastructure. There is $3.7 billion for targeted infrastructure investments to deliver priority infrastructure, including work on Melbourne's East West Link and the $1.6 billion Perth freight link, which is very important to Western Australians. There is money going towards making our local roads safer, by providing an additional $350 million for Roads to Recovery and an additional $200 million for the Black Spot Program. Mr President, you can be assured that I could go on and on, but I will not.