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Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Page: 4157


Mr IRONS (Swan) (16:13): I rise to speak on the member for Grayndler's MPI that there are cuts to the infrastructure budget. I'll lay it out quite simply for the member, but I do understand that his knowledge hasn't been that good with numbers—it's not his strong suit, especially since 2013. There have been no cuts in infrastructure spending. There have been no projects cancelled. Funding to the states and territories has not been reduced. Oh, that's right: no projects cancelled except for the East West Link—and who cancelled that? Funding has actually increased to record levels of investment in infrastructure. The coalition government is investing, on average, $2 billion per year more than Labor and investing in a way which delivers better value and results for taxpayers. I guess the member for Grayndler is just upset that the member for Lilley and the member for McMahon couldn't balance the budget to let him have the bigger chequebook to meet the coalition spending.

Our investments come with robust governance reforms so they deliver value for money, including ensuring independent assessment of business cases by Infrastructure Australia and working with the government's Infrastructure and Project Financing Agency to get the best return on our investments. This isn't 'back of the napkin' planning such as those opposite often used and are used to putting together, or perhaps the Ros Kelly whiteboard that she used to use in her ministerial office.

Mr Hill: Showing your age!

Mr IRONS: This is a serious, considered investment by a fiscally responsible government. I wouldn't say it's age; it's experience. If only they could just understand that good governance and fiscal responsibility require a system of checks and balances! The funding allocated in the budget each year for infrastructure projects is fully available to state, territory and local governments if agreed milestone agreements and project conditions are met. Where milestones are varied, payments are also varied. This is what fiscally responsible governments do. Those opposite, and in particular the member for Lilley, never seemed to understand that phrase 'fiscally responsible' when they sat on those benches, even though their Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, claimed to be an economically and fiscally responsible person, which he wasn't, as we saw.

Ms Henderson interjecting

Mr IRONS: 'Economic conservative', the member for Corangamite tells me. What you don't do is just allocate large sums of money for major infrastructure projects and not review or revisit that expenditure. This is prudent financial management, as the government is not paying ahead of need or ahead of the proponents meeting the milestones or just to meet the government's budget targets.

Mr Albanese: How's Gateway WA going?

Mr IRONS: I hear the member for Grayndler yelling out. I think he's yelling out about the pink batts infrastructure he was talking about. We know about the pink batts disaster. That was infrastructure spending which set over 200 houses on fire and killed four people, so that was really good—what a great legacy to have for infrastructure spending the pink batts disaster was!

The member for Grayndler might not like it, but if Labor wants to make comparisons here is one: comparing all transport infrastructure investments—this includes payments to states, financial assistance grants, financing and equity—under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government the average annual spend on infrastructure was just over $6 billion, and the average under the coalition government from 2013-14 to 2020-21 is over $8.1 billion per year. If the member for Grayndler could get his numbers right, he'd understand that $8.1 billion is a lot higher than $6 billion. The member for Grayndler might get his numbers right one day.

Unlike Labor, the coalition government has a real plan that is building a stronger economy by creating more and better paid jobs, backing small business, boosting exports, delivering reliable and affordable electricity, and building road, rail and other vital infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, those opposite are not fans, but then how could you be a fan of something that promotes aspiration and busts congestion when you have a wing of your party advocating for no new roads?

In the great state of Western Australia, the coalition government, in this budget alone, has announced $3.2 billion for an infrastructure package, the largest single infrastructure investment we have seen dedicated to keeping WA moving. This package is committed to busting congestion across Western Australia and improving safety for WA commuters and road users. Unlike those opposite, this infrastructure package is not city-centric but rather is beneficial to regional WA and people in the metro area like my constituents of Swan. This is on top of the $2.3 billion Boosting Jobs, Busting Congestion package included in last year's budget, which included vital infrastructure such as the Manning Road on-ramp, which Labor always refused to fund, and the upgrades to the Roe Highway and Kalamunda Road intersection in my electorate, which Labor again refused to fund. So I thank the member for Grayndler for bringing this MPI so I could talk about how good the coalition funding is in my electorate of Swan.