Paul Fletcher MP

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Question time: Question from Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks

Parliamentary Speeches Friday, 25 November 2016

Mrs WICKS:

My question is to the Minister for Urban Infrastructure. Will the minister explain to the House the significance of the government's response to the Infrastructure Australia 15-year plan? How will other initiatives support the government's $50 billion Infrastructure Investment Program, and is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr FLETCHER:

I do thank the member for Robertson, who does have a strong interest in infrastructure and who is a very strong voice for her electorate. As she rightly observes, today the government responded to the 15-year plan which has been released by Infrastructure Australia, provided to the government earlier this year. We have announced a number of key initiatives as part of our response to this important plan.

The government has announced that we will be working with state governments to agree on urban rail plans for Australia's five largest cities and their surrounding regions to inform future Commonwealth investment. We have dedicated that we will be progressing the next steps for heavy vehicle user charging reform. We have announced that we will be establishing a study led by an eminent Australian into the potential benefits and impacts of road user charging for light vehicles, recognising that any change here would be a 10- to 15-year journey and would go ahead only if it met tests of fairness, better roads and vehicles able to move around more freely.

We have announced a data collection and dissemination plan for transport and a national freight and supply chain strategy. These initiatives build on the coalition's $50 billion spending program in relation to transport infrastructure. When you add in other infrastructure, including the National Broadband Network and water infrastructure, the coalition is spending $80 billion on infrastructure. That is our commitment to infrastructure—consistent spending and policy direction informed by Infrastructure Australia, the government's independent adviser on infrastructure.

I am asked if there are any alternative approaches to infrastructure policy, in contrast to the approach we have taken. There is an alternative approach that the Leader of the Opposition has that might be called his 'look away for $11 million' approach. The fact is that the industrial action, the corruption, the criminality of the CFMEU that we see on building sites all around Australia means that Australians are paying more for infrastructure than they would need to pay if the rule of law applied on building sites. For example, according to an analysis conducted by Deloittes for Master Builders Association of Victoria, an extra $621 million over four years is what has to be paid to meet the infrastructure program of the Victorian government—$621 million. That would buy a lot of schools, roads and hospitals but, I guess, for $11 million, you look away.

The Leader of the Opposition was asked about this on 7.30. Leigh Sales said to him: 'Labor continues to accept donations from the CFMEU', and he said:

You're right: I do have no tolerance for union corruption. Some of the reports which came out of the Royal Commission, where you see officials taking members' money, just makes me sick to the guts.
Sounds like Captain Renault in Casablanca: 'I'm shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here!'

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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