House of Representatives Speech- Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill 2009

The Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill 2009 demonstrates the decisive response of the Rudd Labor government to the global financial crisis. Because of that global financial crisis, the global economy is in recession. It will contract by 1.5 per cent in 2009. And Australia is in recession. Our economy will contract by one-half of one per cent in 2009-10. These are the most serious global economic circumstances which Australia has been confronted with for more than 75 years. The Rudd government is acting now to boost demand, to support jobs through this recession and to build the foundations for our future prosperity through investment in critical national infrastructure, which is what this legislation is directed to.

The Nation Building Program (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill 2009 demonstrates the decisive response of the Rudd Labor government to the global financial crisis. Because of that global financial crisis, the global economy is in recession. It will contract by 1.5 per cent in 2009. And Australia is in recession. Our economy will contract by one-half of one per cent in 2009-10. These are the most serious global economic circumstances which Australia has been confronted with for more than 75 years. The Rudd government is acting now to boost demand, to support jobs through this recession and to build the foundations for our future prosperity through investment in critical national infrastructure, which is what this legislation is directed to.

This government understands the need to lift Australia’s prosperity and productive capacity through building the economy and building infrastructure for the economy. It is worth noting what the OECD economic outlook: interim report released in March 2009 had to say about the Australian government’s response. It noted that the composition of Australia’s fiscal response to the economic crisis has been heavily tilted in favour of investment spending—spending on infrastructure—to a much greater degree than in any other OECD economy.

Under this budget, the government is going to deliver further infrastructure spending, some of which is dealt with in this legislation. The purpose of this infrastructure spending is to protect jobs now and to build the economy for the future. Specifically, there is to be a large investment in metropolitan rail networks—some $4.6 billion for more efficient metropolitan rail networks that will deliver significant economic and social benefits through less road congestion, lower greenhouse gas emissions and faster travel times for commuters. There is $3.4 billion for the network 1 road freight corridor linking Melbourne and Cairns and $389 million for port infrastructure, which will improve access to global markets for our export industries.

All of the projects that this legislation is directed to will, at a national level, reduce economic inefficiencies caused by the failure of the former government to invest adequately in the infrastructure platforms that our country needs to build future prosperity. It was ironic to listen to the contributions made to this debate by the member for Berowra and some of those opposite. We learned from reports at the weekend that the Liberals and Nationals are voting against this legislation. From those reports they are demonstrating their hypocrisy and indeed more of the dishonest scare campaign that the coalition is intent on waging. Those opposite want to go on talking about debt. They want to go on talking about deficit. And they want to go on opposing the legislation that is being introduced in this House by the government to deal with the economic circumstances that Australia is facing. But, when they go back to their electorates, they want to speak in favour of particular projects and pretend that they are supportive of particular infrastructure projects.

To refer specifically to my electorate, this legislation enables the funding for black spot eradication to deal with dangerous intersections. The specific black spot funding that has been recently announced for my electorate is the upgrading of the existing roundabout at the intersection of Heatherton Road and Lightwood Road in Noble Park, to prevent queuing across the railway tracks, and a further project of upgrading street lights and creating a fully controlled right turn, with a right-turn lane, at the intersection of Athol Road and Corrigan Road in Noble Park. But it seems that those opposite are not interested in the doubling of black spot funding that has occurred under this government. Nor are they interested in legislation of this kind, which is directed at improving national infrastructure. Specifically in my electorate again, this legislation provides the funds for the development of the Dandenong intermodal terminal, which is a far-sighted project that is designed to improve the transport of freight across Melbourne and to create a particular hub in South Dandenong, in my electorate.

The coalition is opposed to this legislation, to other nation-building legislation, to infrastructure funding in general and to the schools program which has been rolled out by this government over the last few months. Again, in my electorate, that is going to see some 47 schools being directly improved and brought into the 21st century. We are doing so not only to improve the facilities at schools but to boost local jobs. The opposition, by opposing legislation, is showing that its real commitment is simply to what is appropriately described as economic vandalism. I repeat: we are seeing a dishonest scare campaign in which those opposite do not wish to engage with the real economic difficulties that are being faced by this country, and indeed by the world. I commend this bill to the House.