Labor will invest in infrastructure, not cut, Albanese claims

By: Jason Whittaker


Labor will invest in nation-building infrastructure projects, the new federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister has declared, rejecting Coalition claims the

Labor will invest in nation-building infrastructure projects, the new federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister has declared, rejecting Coalition claims the Government will take an axe to transport budgets.

Speaking at the National Press Club today, Anthony Albanese outlined Labor's plans for better coordinated infrastructure spending and construction through Infrastructure Australia.

The Minister will introduce legislation to create the new body tomorrow.

Albanese says Infrastructure Australia — consisting of federal, state and local government representatives along with the private sector — will work on a national audit of infrastructure this year before delivering its first priorities list by March next year.

The Minister says the absence of a "pipeline of projects" has been an impediment to infrastructure investment and delivery.

"National coordination means greater long-term certainty for constructors, owners, investors and of course users," he told the National Press Club. "And it will lead to more competitive markets, with benefits for the economy and consumers."

Albanese's claim that fixing infrastructure bottlenecks is "not about spending money" was seized on by shadow transport minister Warren Truss, who says the Minister has begun the "softening up process" for major budget cuts to transport.

"You simply cannot build the nation’s priority road, rail, port and airport projects without spending very big dollars," Truss says.

"Well-targeted and responsible expenditure will reap big economic, environmental and social dividends in the future."

Truss dismisses Infrastructure Australia as "yet another Rudd talkfest".

He also claims Labor has already axed, slashed or deferred several infrastructure projects since winning office, including the F3 to Branxton Link Road in Sydney and upgrades to the Bruce Highway in Queensland.

But a spokesperson for Albanese says these projects were Coalition election promises and not AusLink funded projects.

The Government has already announced reforms to public-private partnership investment. Albanese says surplus super funds should also be used to fund infrastructure projects.

"Put simply the nation is faced with a situation where we have a strong demand for infrastructure development on the one hand, and a substantial supply of capital on the other. With the right leadership we can put these together," he says.

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