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Thursday, 15 October 2015
Page: 7864


Senator LUDLAM (Western AustraliaCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (17:57): In the very brief time that is available to me, I want to put some thoughts on the record about how in Western Australia we experienced the former Prime Minister's commitment to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, because with one hand he took away and with the other he gave. That was the sort of person that he was. He took away $500 million that had been committed by the previous government after a seven-year campaign not just by the Greens, although we were certainly part of it, but by local government, public transport advocates like Professor Peter Newman and people right across the Perth metropolitan area who wanted the Perth light rail project. To his credit, Premier Colin Barnett put a small but very capable project team together and that project was known as MAX and was on the rails.

Former Prime Minister Abbott killed it stone dead at the point when he arrived and started to call himself the infrastructure Prime Minister. So as rapidly as he stood down the half billion dollars worth of rail funding for Perth, a thought bubble suddenly appeared for $925 million being committed to the Perth Freight Link, a road that nobody wants, that does not go anywhere and that is, in fact, being fought very successfully by a spirited and growing community campaign and now has the project approvals by the Western Australian EPA tied down in the Supreme Court on a number of grounds. More than 1,100 people have signed the Save Beeliar Wetlands pledge, a direct action pledge to stand in the way, in front of machinery, if necessary, if they try to bulldoze—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Stopping infrastructure.

Senator LUDLAM: That is correct: stopping a four-lane freeway through a wetland. It is not all bad news, despite the campaign gaining in strength. I actually think this is one area where, maybe, I am going to set my cynicism aside and suspect that perhaps the new Prime Minister does have a different view of infrastructure. The Senate inquiry into the Perth Freight Link sat last week and, to their credit, it featured Senators Back and Reynolds from the coalition—but not the Western Australian government, who could not be bothered turning up—and, along with Senator Sterle and myself, we heard evidence that the outer harbour to the southern suburbs of Perth may, in fact, be the solution we are looking for. We can get a dedicated freight solution for Perth's growing needs. I hope that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is listening to the evidence, as his senators did, so that we can actually get a genuine freight solution for Perth.

The PRESIDENT: It being 6pm, the time for the debate has expired.