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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 645

Senator RYAN (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training) (15:10): Where to begin? In the grab bag of grievance and opportunism put forward by the opposition today in a lame attempt to perform the important role of an opposition holding the government to account, I am not sure where to pick the peak. But I will start with this, Mr Deputy President Marshall: you are a Victorian senator here, as am I. Today we saw from Senator Kim Carr an attack upon the government for actually trying to deliver one of Victoria's most critical infrastructure projects—the East West Link. This government is proud to have put forward money to make sure Victoria gets its fair share of important nation-building infrastructure. This government has ensured and will seek to continue to ensure that the economic vandalism of those opposite, who seek to tear up contracts signed by the previous Victorian government to deliver this critical road project that will stop Melbourne from coming to a standstill every time a single car breaks down on the West Gate Bridge, does not continue. This government will oppose the efforts of the Victorian government in spending a billion dollars to put 7,000 people out of work—in spending a billion dollars to invoke sovereign risk and make it so that everyone in Australia, and every state and Commonwealth government, will have a risk premium built into their contracts, all because of the actions of the Labor Party.

But that is not what the Labor Party said when this project was first brought forward. In fact, Mr Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, described the East West Link as 'crucial to jobs and economic growth.' He also said Labor would not support the tearing up of contracts, just as the then state Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews, said before the state election. But now that he has been elected, now that the former leader of the opposition has to kowtow to the militant CFMEU thugs in Victoria, what we have is a Labor Party that is determined to tear up a contract and try to pretend this will not invoke not only a cost for Victorians now but a significant cost into the future. Every government until this point has abided by the contracts that previous governments have signed. This government, when confronted with the mess of the National Broadband Network—that was not subject to a full cost-benefit analysis, that was running late, and that was tens of billions of dollars over budget—abided by the contracts and renegotiated them under those terms to deliver a faster broadband network to the majority of Australians.

Yet those opposite, kowtowing to the noisy Greens in the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney—in this case, in particular, in Melbourne—want to deny the right of a Victorian government to effectively ever sign a contract that can be trusted again. Yesterday in the newspaper the Victorian government was threatening legislation to abrogate a contract and to abrogate the terms of that contract. The previous Victorian government was faced with debacle after debacle—in particular, the desalination plant and the myki ticketing system—but that government lived by the terms of the contracts signed by the previous government. Yet this government in Victoria—the new government—supported by those opposite, comes into this place and criticises this government for delivering Victoria's fair share of infrastructure funding—$1.5 billion to build a 22-kilometre road to relieve congestion in Melbourne. Just as the creation of the Western Ring Road and the Northern Ring Road did in Melbourne in the 1990s and 2000s, this would create massive job opportunities not only in building but by actually increasing work opportunities in what are now sometimes dormitory suburbs. There is a huge logistics business that comes out of western Melbourne now because of the western ring road. There are new manufacturing industries in northern Melbourne because of access to the ring road and the airport. Yet this opposition wants to put 7,000 people out of work and support the tearing up of contracts, despite what they said previously, which is that they would not support that. And they described this project as crucial to jobs and economic growth.

When it comes to submarines, the Labor Party cries crocodile tears, because, if they cared about ASC and if they cared about jobs in Adelaide, they would have done something rather than strip capital expenditure out of the defence budget year after year after year. That saw defence expenditure fall overall to its lowest level since before World War II. The Labor Party is nothing but opportunistic. It is crying crocodile tears for the jobs of Australians.