The federal government in Australia is delivering on its promise to improve national infrastructure, the nation’s prime minister says.
In a progress report delivered to federal parliament a year into the government's term, Tony Abbott said the government’s $50 billion capital works program was the biggest in the nation’s history and was an essential part of a plan to deliver a prosperous economy.
“At the last election, the Coalition promised to scrap the carbon tax, to stop the boats, to get the Budget under control and to build the roads of the 21st century,” Abbott told parliament.
“We are honouring all of these commitments – but my task today is to report on one of them, our infrastructure agenda.
“I said that I hope to be the Infrastructure Prime Minister – and that part of that was delivering an annual infrastructure statement to the House of Representatives.
“So today Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report progress in building the modern infrastructure that our country needs.”
In his address, Abbott pointed to a number of achievements, including having every state and territory sign on to the government’s asset recycling initiative, the anticipated commencement of Stage two of Sydney’s WestConnex program ahead of schedule, and an overhaul of the structure and governance arrangements of Infrastructure Australia.
He says the economic benefit of projects set to be delivered cannot be understated, with Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek expected to generate an additional $24 billion in gross domestic product and 60,000 employment positions in Western Sydney and the WestConnex and East West Link projects set to deliver around 10,000 and 6,000 jobs during peak construction respectively – with the former project set to shave up 40 minutes of travel times and bypass 52 sets of lights and the latter set to save up to 20 minutes on cross city trips.
In reply, however, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese hit back, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promises, neglecting public transport as opposed to roads and taking credit for projects instituted under Labour.
“Despite going to the election giving Australians the impression it would maintain Labour’s six-year focus on nation building, the government is struggling to deliver results,” Albanese said.
“It continues to present old Labor projects as though they are new. It continues to treat its election promises as though their delivery was somehow optional.”
Abbott’s comments follow the recent release on October 20 of a green paper backing further construction of dams in Australia.
Abbott said the government was determined to end the ‘dam-phobia’ which he said had largely stopped the building of new dams in recent decades, including by providing ‘some modest seed funding’.