Announcement of Infrastructure Australia Priority List 2019

Julieanne Alroe: … introduce the Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Michael McCormack. Please join me in welcoming him.

[Applause]

Michael McCormack: Thank you so much Julieanne for that kind introduction and that very moving speech and it is a moving speech because we want to get Australians moving. We want to get them moving sooner to their destinations and we want to get them moving safer to their destinations.

It's great to be here. I can see a number of my Parliamentary colleagues and Ministerial colleagues.

But I do want to say that when you talk of collaboration Julieanne, I do work in collaboration with Alan (Alan Tudge – Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population) very, very well, and as a regional Member - and I know Scott Buchholz (Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport) is also a regional Member - we work with our urban colleagues, our metropolitan colleagues very well to bring about better outcomes for Australians.

I'd also like to acknowledge Steven Kennedy, the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, who is tasked with the big responsibility of first of all working with me, and second, making sure that we deliver the sorts of projects that Australians need, want, expect and deserve. It's really great to have Anna Chau, acting CEO of Infrastructure Australia here. This body of work would not have been possible without her work. So to Anna, thank you very much. I'd actually like to put our hands together for the acting CEO and at the same welcoming the incoming CEO Romilly Madew. I know Romilly is going to make such a difference for such an important organisation because what Infrastructure Australia does, it puts the - as your Chair has just told us - it puts the transparency, the accountability around the infrastructure projects that take priority. What it also does is that it really puts the rigour into the process. And 121 projects sets the challenge for the Government. It sets the opportunity for us as well, because we will take on board this body of work. It will help us form a framework as we prepare for the upcoming budget and hopefully future budgets because we want to build our future.

We want to build a better Australia. I’m so pleased that you mentioned remote housing, because in the Closing the Gap speeches this morning remote housing and the lack thereof, or the poor quality thereof, was certainly a feature of those speeches in the House of Representatives this morning.

We need to do better. And we can only do better when we have Infrastructure Australia working with so many, indeed all of you in this room, to bring about this priority lists, to bring about these 121 projects. As we deliver these projects and they go off previous priority list or indeed the current priority list, they are replaced with other projects of national significance. There are many, many projects of national significance that are there now which will come on in the future and which we need to really seriously look at.

Once upon a time there was a ‘build it and they will come’ sort of attitude. There were also the political ramifications and implications and benefits of spending money on infrastructure. But the fact remains that we need rigour and accountability around what we're doing, how we doing it and where we're delivering it. This priority list gives us that rigour; it gives us the incentive; it gives us the encouragement; and it gives us the challenge and the opportunity to put into place the sorts of projects that Australians need to build our future.

I very much look forward to working with IA, working with the Department, the fantastic Department - I will say that, they are a fantastic Department to work with - as well as everybody in this room. I see Ken Morrison here from the Property Council – it’s fantastic to have you here too, because I know that whether it's in all of the parameters, whether it's road, rail, health, education, housing, whatever the case might be, we need to build a better future. That’s what we're doing and taking on board - as you quite correctly point out Julieanne - advances in technology. Because some of the things that are happening in the technology space at the moment really challenge us to be our best selves and we need to look ahead.

I'll just tell you two quick stories before I go and that was when I was launching a new duplicated road in a capital city in Australia and I had a reporter really questioning me about why this road was necessary right now. Surely, she said, there are other priorities and this project won't be needed for at least five years - and I said: no, no, this project is necessary now because we're planning ahead for the future. And any fan of Yes, Minister and Utopia as I admit I am, all too often they see what really goes on sometimes in the halls of this place, in the corridors of this place and indeed in the meeting rooms in this place, but we are - we're really taking the challenge up to build the roads, to build the infrastructure of the future now and that's so important.

We need to plan ahead. All too often Governments in the past - of all persuasions - probably didn't do as much planning as they should have and it's really great that IA is doing the work that they need to put the rigor around what we also need to do.

I had a meeting this morning with a local government from south west Brisbane and she spoke about the need to get congestion-busting projects in place and also again she emphasised the need to plan, the need to prioritise for the future and the need to put things in place not because they're needed now but because they're probably going to be needed in 2024, 2025 and beyond - that five year, that 10 year, that 20 year vision, because Australia is growing. Our regional cities are growing. They're not growing as fast as our urban areas but we've obviously also got real pressures in our major capitals that need addressing. This priority list helps us to do just that, whether it's remote, rural, regional Australia or indeed in our metropolitan areas.

Thank you Julianne for all of that Infrastructure Australia has done. Thank you Anna. I’m looking forward to working with you very closely Romilly. Thank you to the whole IA team who've contributed to this and with that I officially launch the Priority List for 2019. Thank you very much.