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Thursday, 31 May 2018
Page: 5228


Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities) (11:45): I'm pleased to have the chance to address the chamber on the extraordinary and extensive infrastructure program that the Turnbull-McCormack government has committed to, a $75 billion infrastructure program over the next 10 years. Before I turn to highlight some of the strengths of that program, it is necessary to just correct a few of the usual egregious range of completely misleading and inaccurate statements made by the shadow minister. Shiftiness seems to be a characteristic not confined to the Leader of the Opposition, I regret to say.

For example, the shadow minister said that the city deal for Geelong had been politicised because it was proposed that the date by which it would be finalised falls before the date of the Victorian election. If the Labor shadow minister has a concern about that point, I invite him to take it up with the Labor government of Victoria, because a city deal is a deal between multiple levels of government, and as it happens, in this case, the Geelong city deal involves a state government which is of one political persuasion and a federal government which is of another. But the Turnbull government is not interested in this kind of narrow, short-term political thinking. We want to deliver outcomes for the people of Australia and the people of Geelong.

An insight into the shiftiness of the shadow minister was provided by his very next point. After bagging the government for, in his view, trying to inappropriately conclude the city deal for Geelong with some alacrity, in his very next breath he complained that Victoria was being short-changed when it came to infrastructure spending. There is a yawning logical inconsistency here. Argument No. 1: you're going too quickly on Geelong—which is of course in Victoria, I highlight. Argument No. 2: you're not giving enough to Victoria. I don't have the time to point out how completely inaccurate his claims about Victorian infrastructure spending are, but when you just look at the impressive array of projects we've committed to—$5 billion for the Melbourne airport rail link and $1.75 billion for the North East Link, that vital missing link in the Melbourne motorway network—it makes the point very powerfully that this tired claim that the shadow minister trots out repeatedly is as threadbare and as inaccurate as just about everything else that he says on the topic of infrastructure policy.

Let me turn to another example: the question of what the shadow minister really thinks about equity investment in public transport. If you look at a document issued some time ago—in fact in 2009, when the Commonwealth minister for infrastructure was the very man who now occupies the position of shadow minister—it contains this interesting statement. I'm reading from a document headed 'Nation Building Plan for the Future—Building Australia Fund—investing in port and rail projects'. This is from Budget Paper No. 2, page 415, in the 2009 budget. It says:

The Government has made provision for a possible equity contribution of $365.0 million in 2009-10 in relation to the Gold Coast Light Rail project.

Well, this is confusing. This is very confusing. The shadow minister, normally expected to be a beacon and paradigm of consistency in his logic, it turns out, on this occasion, was saying one thing in government and now in opposition is saying absolutely, diametrically, completely the opposite. Can you trust a word this man says? I could talk about the Oakajee Port common user facility, where there was also a commitment for a possible equity contribution in 2009 by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government in which the present shadow minister was then the Minister for Infrastructure. What about his equity contribution to the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal in Sydney? We could go on but, sadly, time does not allow us the sufficient opportunity to fully and comprehensively detail the shadow minister's egregious and consistent inaccuracies, but it is a troubling behavioural pattern. Happily, we're ignoring that and we're getting on with delivering $75 billion of infrastructure all around the country because what we care about is delivering outcomes for Australians.