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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9107


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister update the House on the government's record investments in nation-building infrastructure? How are these helping to rebuild the Bruce Highway, and are there any recent observations that confirm the benefit of these investments?

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:40): I thank the member for Capricornia for her question. Of course, this federal Labor government has continued to roll out its record Nation Building Program, doubling the roads budget, increasing the rail budget tenfold and committing more to urban public transport than all governments combined since Federation. In addition to that, we are committed to spreading the benefits of the mining boom. That is why we have established the $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund.

I am asked about the Bruce Highway, which has benefited from both our Nation Building Program and the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Mr Truss interjecting

Mr ALBANESE: Recently, as the Leader of the Nationals interjected, he embarked on the equivalent of National Lampoon's Vacation. He went up the North Coast, up the Bruce Highway. As he went up the Bruce Highway, all loaded up in the car were the member for Gippsland and other people over there, who were not sure what seat they were from. Some of that mob over there were loaded into the car, some on the roof, some strapped in, going to look at the work that is taking place on the Bruce Highway.

As the Leader of the National Party left his seat going up north, he would have hit the Cooroy to Curra section—the section which he had previously said had the worst road in Australia. He had said that and he should have known. At the time he said that, he was not only the local member; he was the transport minister, and he had done nothing about it. But at the end of last year he would have seen the work underway that will be completed and opened. When he hit the member for Capricornia's seat he would have seen the work that is taking place on the Yeppen Lagoon Bridge and the Yeppen roundabout—$40 million coming from the Regional Infrastructure Fund that he would abolish.

If they had got their timing right, they could have been with me and the member for Herbert when we opened the $110 million Douglas Arterial. He could have asked the member for Herbert what he thought, because the member for Herbert said:

I'll give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.

That is what the member for Herbert had to say.

Throughout his journey he could have seen the work that is underway, including under the $210 million from the Regional Infrastructure Fund. We have spent $2.8 billion over six years; he spent $1.3 billion over 12 long years. So it is no wonder that, as they got to Cairns—as they got to Walley World—their final destination, he got asked, 'What are you committing?' The LNP members spent a whole week strapped in this car and on the roof. When they got to the end, they proposed not one cent of additional funding—not one single cent of additional funding from those opposite.

Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:43): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, you have talked about building infrastructure in my home state of Queensland. Why is it important for us to have bipartisan support for this infrastructure, and is the minister aware of any risks to this support?

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:44): I can assist the member for Capricornia with her very good question because we have committed some $8.7 billion for Queensland as part of the Nation Building Program. In addition to that, we have made commitments from the Regional Infrastructure Fund—$430 million in Queensland alone so far—which those opposite have promised to get rid of in order to give Gina and Clive a tax cut.

That is their position. So I was particularly disturbed this morning with the member for Dawson, who had this to say about the Peak Downs Highway in his electorate—

Mr Christensen interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Dawson is warned.

Mr ALBANESE: and the $120 million commitment. He said, 'It's something I want to look at, you know, down the track if the Liberal-National coalition get into government.' So there it is. They want to cut school funding for those wealthy public schools around the country! The Leader of the Opposition has made that clear. And they want to cut funding through the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Indeed, that stands in stark contrast with the Leader of the National Party, who has said at other times that mining companies are not putting enough back into the local communities. The Gateway WA project, the Gladstone port access road, the Blacksoil Interchange, and the Townsville Ring Road are all under threat if you get rid of the Regional Infrastructure Fund, because you have got to say where the money is coming from.

Mr Pyne: That's a bit of an own goal.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Sturt has just committed an own goal and he will remove himself from the chamber under standing order 94(a). Persistent interjection will not be tolerated.

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.