Op-Ed: Australia Is Investing In The Cities Of The Future At Record Levels
07 February 2017
Infrastructure investment is vital to Australia's prosperity, and the Turnbull Government is investing in a wide range of projects all across Australia, so that people can move about our cities and regional areas more quickly and efficiently, freight can get to market, and our cities and urban areas remain among the most liveable in the world.
After all the talk from the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government about infrastructure and 'shovel-ready projects', the Coalition is spending more on infrastructure than Labor did. If you compare support for state infrastructure across the four-year forward estimates period of Labor's past three budgets and the Coalition's first three budgets, the average under the Coalition was $27.9 billion -- a 54 percent increase on Labor.
This reflects a commitment carefully and deliberately made by the Coalition.
In the May 2014 budget, the Treasurer announced "a package of measures that will significantly increase investment in infrastructure", stating that the package would "take the Government's total investment to $50 billion by the end of the decade."
We are committed to a $50 billion infrastructure investment over the period from the first year of the Coalition Government, 2013-14, to the last year of the decade, 2019-20 -- and we are on track to meet this target.
Labor's Anthony Albanese is desperate to distract from these hard numbers, claiming that the Turnbull Government was misleading Australians about our level of investment in infrastructure. But the person doing misleading was Albanese. He quotes a figure of $34 billion -- taken from an answer to a question on notice at a recent Senate estimates hearing. But this figure is for spending in the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19.
Albanese simply ignores the money spent in 2013-14 and the money budgeted to be spent in 2019-20.
He often claims that since coming to power in 2013, the Coalition has not commenced any new infrastructure projects. In a 2015 speech, for example, he criticised us for projects such as NorthConnex in Sydney and Northlink in Perth, arguing that we were simply continuing projects Labor had initiated.
In the same speech he criticised us for having cancelled other projects that he claimed -- wrongly -- that Labor had "allocated" funding to. The so-called "allocation" of $3 billion to Melbourne Metro was on the never-never -- announced in 2013 with the funding not to commence for six years.
Certainly we are continuing to support a wide range of important projects which commenced prior to 2013, such as NorthConnex and WestConnex in Sydney and Northlink WA in Perth.
The Coalition's commitment to the transformational WestConnex project in Sydney -- $1.5 billion in grant funding and $2 billion in concessional loans -- dwarfs the funding Labor said it would provide.
His claim of 'no new projects' is nonsense. Since coming to government in 2013 the Coalition has committed to a wide range of new projects.
There is the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, a 41 kilometre new road with $1.137 billion of federal funding.
There is Adelaide's Northern Connector, a 15 kilometre motorway project with $788 million of federal funding.
There is the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, including widening the Northern Road for its full length and building a new M12 Motorway to connect the new Western Sydney Airport to the M7 and Sydney's Motorway network.
There is the Perth Freight Link project, with nearly $1.2 billion committed, and the Perth Airport Forrestfield rail line with $490 million committed. The Forrestfield project contradicts another claim that Albanese regularly makes: that the Coalition is only spending on road and not rail.
Quite apart from Forrestfield, there is the $43 million commitment to connect Flinders University Medical Centre to the Adelaide rail network; $1.7 billion for the transformational Sydney Metro rail project running from Rouse Hill in the northwest to Bankstown in the southwest; $95 million for Gold Coast Light Rail; $67 million for Canberra Light Rail; and $894 million for the Inland Rail.
The Opposition can continue to make factually incorrect and misleading claims about infrastructure spending -- the Turnbull Government will get on with the job of funding and building infrastructure at record levels.
Originally published on Huffington Post Australia at http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/paul-fletcher/australia-is-investing-in-the-cities-of-the-future-at-record-lev/?utm_hp_ref=au-politics