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Labor's latest last minute rail promise: Albanese refuses to answer central question.

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Media Release

Authorised and printed by Brian Loughnane for the Liberal Party of Australia Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Sts BARTON ACT 2600

The Hon Joe Hockey MP Shadow Treasurer Federal Member for North Sydney

Thursday 12 August 2010


The Rudd/Gillard Labor Government has moved into spin overdrive, with Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese refusing to tell the public exactly when they dreamt up Labor’s last minute rail promise, evading the question no less than five times in a single AM interview.

Anthony Albanese today confirmed this rail promise was drawn up at the last minute on the back of a coaster, because there was no official planning or submissions.

A letter from NSW Transport Minister John Robertson dated less than a fortnight ago states:

“A Parramatta-Epping rail link is not a project in the 10-year horizon of the Metropolitan Transport Plan.”

Here’s what the public already know about the latest Labor rail link promise:

It was left out of the NSW Labor Government 10-year transport plan; It was announced 10 days before an election; The project was not officially submitted to Infrastructure Australia for proper assessment, feasibility study or scrutiny;

Claims the NSW Labor Government will fund the first 4 years of construction are dubious given it wasn’t in their 10-year transport plan: where is the State Government money coming from?;

People will have to elect Julia Gillard twice before federal money starts ; The rail line runs through Labor marginal seats, and; Labor is good at drawing lines on maps during election campaigns, but hopeless at delivering real rail lines.

Anthony Albanese refused to say when the Gillard Government decided to announce this project five times in a single interview.

Labor drew up the announcement on the back of an envelope at the last minute in a desperate attempt to win marginal seats.

Media Release

Authorised and printed by Brian Loughnane for the Liberal Party of Australia Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Sts BARTON ACT 2600


ALBANESE: The letter shows that I was meeting with the Liberal Deputy Lord Mayor of Parramatta, and he was lobbying for this project as far back as, ah, the 15th of April 2010. It also confirms that, ah, the state government remained committed to building this project, but that it required federal funding. And indeed, the letter from Minister Robertson indicates that, ah, he wants to hear about the dialogue that I’d had, not just with Parramatta Council, I might say, but with every western Sydney council. The only group that is, ah, opposed to this plan appears to be the Liberal Party.

CURTIS: But, but the letter does say the Parramatta-Epping rail link is not a project in the 10 year horizon of the metropolitan transport plan. When did it become project in the 10 year horizon? Is it a decision you only made in the last few days?

ALBANESE: That was a publicly released plan in February that had a range of projects that would move forward with funding solely from the state government, including the southwest rail link, including the western express line. What the state government said was that for other projects to proceed, they would need the support of the Commonwealth.

CURTIS: So, so when did you tell the NSW government you were going to back this project?

ALBANESE: ... have been in dialogue with the NSW government over a period of many months since they released the February transport plan. Since then, there have been two Transport Ministers, I have had discussions with Minister Robertson, Minister Campbell, his predecessor. Ah, but most importantly, ah, ongoing dialogue with Premier Keneally about the importance of this project, and consistent lobbying from western Sydney.

CURTIS: But when was the decision taken to, to decide to tip in the money into this project?

ALBANESE: Look, we make ... we make announcements when we make them.

CURTIS: But when was the decision taken?

ALBANESE: The announcement was yesterday, as you’d be aware.

CURTIS: But when was the decision taken?

ALBANESE: ... have been making ... having discussions with the state government on an ongoing basis regarding transport issues in Sydney. And we make no apologies for the fact that we are now investing in rail in every capital city of the mainland, as well as supporting rail through the rail rescue project we had in conjunction with the Tasmanian government last year.

# # #

Media Release

Authorised and printed by Brian Loughnane for the Liberal Party of Australia Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Sts BARTON ACT 2600

MTR interview over...


PRICE: So when did you decide to fund the Parramatta-Epping rail link.

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve been having discussions, as you know, Steve. The idea that, ah, this is somehow a project that’s been plucked, ah, from, from nowhere is extraordinary. People can’t have it both ways. It’s been around for a long time.

PRICE: So when did you sit down with John Robertson and say, mate, you’ve got the money.

ALBANESE: I sat down with his predecessor, David Campbell, and, ah, indeed, ah, had discussions, ah, with, ah firstly, with, ah first raised with me by Kristina’s predecessor.

PRICE: But this letter is dated the 1st of August.

ALBANESE: This is a letter to a Liberal Deputy Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Steve, I mean, let’s ...

PRICE: But, but, I mean how can John Robertson ... [cross talk] Hang, hang on ... How can John Robertson on the 1st of August not know that you’re going to fund these rail links?

ALBANESE: Mate, he, he didn’t say ... he makes no comment about that. He says, in his letter, he confirms, that the government remains committed to it. He confirms that, ah, that ah, the Parramatta-Epping rail link, ah, isn’t in the 10 year horizon, it needs the support of the Commonwealth. And it confirms ...

PRICE: But wouldn’t he have known on the 1st of August that you were going to support it?

ALBANESE: Well, whether he knew or not, he’s not about to make an announcement to the Liberal Deputy Lord Mayor of Parramatta, mate, as you know.

BOLT: Anthony, I’m just confused. It’s only about 2 days ago, I think it was, that I had a long and lovely discussion with the chairman of Infrastructure Australia, who’s, you know, your link to the business world as well, and, ah I asked him about, ah, the plans that they had and the projects they’d been ticking off, and all that. And I cannot recall him mentioning this $2.6 billion project at all. I’m just wondering, when did you go to Infrastructure Australia, and say, it’s on.

ALBANESE: Well, this is a government announcement ...

Media Release

Authorised and printed by Brian Loughnane for the Liberal Party of Australia Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Sts BARTON ACT 2600

BOLT: No, no, I know that, I know that ... I, I’ve heard you ... I just wanna know ....

ALBANESE: This isn’t an Infrastructure Australia announcement, this is a government announcement. The funding for this are not coming from the Building Australia Fund. This is a government announcement. I have certainly had discussions with, ah, Sir Rod and with the Infrastructure Australia em bureaucrats ...

BOLT: Yeah, but I heard you say that ... yesterday when you were asked repeatedly about this ... but I’m asking the same question that I don’t think we got direct answer for, uh, when did you go to Infrastructure Australia and say, it’s on, here’s the cost-benefit analysis [crosstalk]

ALBANESE: ... to Infrastructure Australia ...

BOLT: Yeah, but you say... you yesterday made a play of having talked to them.

ALBANESE: Well I have spoken to Infrastructure Australia about, ah, about this project and others.

BOLT: And they’ve not ... eh ... approved any funding for it, have they?

ALBANESE: This is a government announcement during an election campaign, like other government announcements. And in terms of where the funding is coming from, the funding for this is not coming from the Building Australia Fund, it’s coming from the Nation Building Program, ah, Mark II, which will commence in 2014. There will be an intergovernmental agreement struck between the Commonwealth and the NSW Government to deliver this project. And what we have asked is that Infrastructure Australia would oversee, ah, the work that takes place on the project just like we’ve asked Infrastructure Australia to look at private financing options for the F3 to M2 in Sydney, this probably doesn’t mean much in Melbourne. But the M5 ....

Media Contact: Lisa Chikarovski, 0428 407 475