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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6025


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (21:49): I will speak briefly to the budget proposals. This year's infrastructure budget is about setting Australia up to compete and prosper in the 21st century. It is a forward-looking budget. It delivers the next critical stages of work to duplicate the Pacific Highway, with an additional $1 billion in extra investment, subject to some matched funding for a proportion of that with $750 million from the incoming New South Wales government. It funds reforms to make Australia a modern, seamless economy, including moving from 23 national regulators down to three, with an estimated benefit for the productive side of the economy of some $30 billion over 20 years. It delivers the national urban policy. It extends the smart infrastructure agenda that the National Broadband Network will enable. It continues nation building, particularly in regional Australia, providing funding of $395 million for our first Regional Infrastructure Fund projects and $300 million for early works on the inland rail, with $30 million coming online in 2013-14. It reinstates Bruce Highway projects now that flood reconstruction is underway.

In total, Labor's investment in regional infrastructure is some $22 billion. The budget also reforms Infrastructure Australia and provides a 40 per cent increase in its funding. It improves the operation of the infrastructure market. It delivers critical private financing reforms to attract up to $25 billion of superannuation and private investment into public infrastructure and it provides certainty for aviation infrastructure and services for remote Australia.

In total, the 2011 budget provides some $950 million in new and accelerated investment for the Nation Building Program on top of the $395 million for Regional Infrastructure Fund projects. This is a budget that is fiscally responsible. We are able to invest for the future because Labor acted decisively during the global recession. As the world shed 30 million jobs, 740,000 more Australians went to work. This is a budget of which I am particularly proud. It was a fiscally responsible budget, but we were still able to pursue the government's nation-building agenda, including indeed bringing forward funding, for example, for the Moreton Bay rail link of some $100 million—a major benefit indeed.

So this is a good budget for the government. We have had a comprehensive approach. The budget builds on the work that has been done by Infrastructure Australia. I note that the incoming New South Wales government has paid a very high compliment to this government's agenda by creating Infrastructure New South Wales, not quite on the model we have—ours is much more independent and at arm's length from government—but, nonetheless, if imitation is the greatest form of flattery then it is a recognition of the work this government has been doing.

In addition, Infrastructure Australia will establish a new infrastructure financing group, chaired by Jim Murphy of the Commonwealth Treasury. The deputy chair will be Ross Rolfe, and the group will include other senior private sector members. I spoke earlier today at the CEO forum, made up of the CEOs of all the major international companies present in Australia, and this government's agenda has been extremely well received. I commend the appropriations to the chamber.