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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21476

Mr PEARCE (2:17 PM) —My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of a recent letter from the Premier of Victoria to constituents in my electorate regarding the Victorian roads program, in particular the Scoresby Freeway? What is the minister's response to these claims? Are there any alternative policies?

Mr ANDERSON (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —I thank the member for Aston for his question. I note his very real interest in this and his commitment to those who would benefit from the delivery of the Scoresby Freeway, but I regret that there is no similar commitment from anyone in the ALP. I have to say that I am aware that the Premier of Victoria has written to 200,000 homes in Melbourne's south-west and has spent, I understand, at least $100,000 in the process.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ANDERSON —There is no doubt about it: those opposite would rather we did not explore this issue. They would love to have it covered up and spoken over. At least $100,000 was spent on the mail-out, and I will table a copy of the letter; it is not identifiable in terms of who it went to. It is an attempt to justify the backflip on Scoresby. I am glad to note that Mr Beattie—

Opposition members interjecting—Ha, ha!

Mr ANDERSON —Aah! Mr Bracks—I'm sorry—has finally given up on his attempt to rename the Scoresby after a couple of marginal seats. He has given it a proper name at last. What an extraordinary example of creative writing this is by Mr Bracks.

The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Hunter!

Mr ANDERSON —The state election was just a few months ago; it is very obvious that the backlash for breaking an election promise really is biting. Then again—

Mr ANDERSON —The Leader of the Opposition just does not want to talk about Scoresby.

Mr ANDERSON —Neither does the member for Batman. He does not want to talk about Scoresby either. Maybe the Leader of the Opposition's name ought to be all over this document. If he only knew what his position was, I am sure he would agree to put his name on the document.

Mr McGauran —It is the Bracks position.

Mr ANDERSON —It is the Bracks position. What is the Bracks position? Let us come to the Bracks position. Eleven months ago, the Victorian Labor Party promised the electors a toll-free Scoresby Freeway under the memorandum of understanding that they signed with us. That is what they promised. Just to remind those opposite—and I quote from the memorandum: `Victoria undertakes to ensure that users of the Scoresby Freeway will not be required to pay a direct toll.' So what have Labor done? They have imposed a toll on the road—the road they said would be a freeway they now say will be a tollway. The fact remains that the government is committed to a freeway. We are committed to building this road with no tolls.

Mr Bracks claimed in his letter that the Scoresby Freeway could not be completed until 2020. That is what he said: `We could not complete it until 2020.' I have to say that that is news. If that was the case, why did they not tell the people of Victoria during the last election—just 11 months ago? Why did they not tell the people of Victoria that they would not be able to complete it until 2020 without a toll? Mr Bracks also says in his letter that we on this side of politics have not explained how or if we will fund the Scoresby Freeway. That is what he has told Victorians. The fact is that we are committed to our funding of $445 million under the MOU. That money is sitting there, waiting to be given to Victoria the minute they agree to a memorandum of understanding that they signed just 11 months ago.

Even after the Labor government had let the budget for this project blow out, we remained committed. We are still committed. But at no stage, I note, did they talk to us about additional funding, yet now they cry poor over federal road funding for Victoria.

Mr ANDERSON —`Mmm' says the Leader of the Opposition. That letter claims that they get just 15 per cent of federal government funding. I had a look at this. Do you know what percentage of federal road funding was allocated to Victoria last year? It is three per cent of Australia's land mass. Mr Bracks claims we commit 15 per cent. Do you know what it was last year? It was 24 per cent. Then you come to RONIs—Roads of National Importance. What are RONIs? They are roads that we help state governments to build so that we can accelerate them for the benefit of the Australian public. We have committed around $2 billion since 1996. Do you know what Victoria's share of the RONIs program has been? It is 38 per cent.

Government members interjecting

Mr ANDERSON —I hear somebody say `take it away'. We do not want to take it away; we want to spend it. We actually want to build the Scoresby Freeway. Here is another amazing figure. Do you know what percentage of the forward allocations the forward works program for Victoria is over the next four years? It is 37 per cent. Yet Premier Bracks still claims that we hate Victoria so much that we will not look after them.

Here is a challenge for the Leader of the Opposition—three questions. Firstly, does he support tolls being put on the Scoresby?

Honourable members interjecting

Mr ANDERSON —He does. Secondly, does he think it all right to break a commitment which was signed off in an MOU? Thirdly, whose side is he on—the people of Victoria's or the Premier of Victoria's?