Bill - Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill, 2014, second reading
September 23, 2014
I am pleased to speak on the Infrastructure
Australia Amendment (Cost Benefit Analysis and Other Measures) Bill, which is
important to constituents Australia-wide who seek to progress the expansion of
infrastructure to underpin the development of Australia in the 21st century. We
all have visions—for our cities, for our communities and regions, and indeed
for Northern Australia—for developing potential, and a critical factor
underpinning the realisation of the vision is the development of good, solid, productive,
The 2014 Infrastructure
Australia amendment bill will amend the 2008 act to clarify legislative and
administrative arrangements for Infrastructure Australia—established under the
Infrastructure Australia Act 2008 and which came into effect on 9 April 2008.
The amendments will essentially clarify the role of Infrastructure Australia in
assessing projects of over $100 million. It is seeking to include a
qualification to include proposals that are seeking Commonwealth funding of $50
million dollars toward the total estimated capital expenditure, or in relation
to other proposals as determined by the minister responsible for
infrastructure. The amendment will ensure that Infrastructure Australia has the
function of evaluating cost-benefit analyses as part of its broader evaluation
function. In addition, the amendment will also include a definition for
'proposal', obviously providing clarity for all.
The government is committed
to Building Better Infrastructure—the infrastructure for the 21st century. It
is part of our economic action strategy to build a strong and prosperous
economy that will boost jobs and liveability for our children's' children. The
budget has laid out a $50 billion dollar infrastructure investment program, for
development of essential infrastructure in rural, remote, regional and urban
Australia—we need roads and bridges, rails and ports to underpin development
and growth and to realise prosperity well into the future. Transport challenges
had been looming for some time under the previous government.
Our government's policy
agenda will: target investment in productive infrastructure; seek to complete
jobs faster; partner with state governments; and leverage more private investor
funding. We are already witnessing investment in better roads and I am pleased
for my electorate of Durack to see the following infrastructure commitments:
North West Coastal Highway, Minilya to Barradale section—$174 million for
upgrades; Great Northern Highway, Waddington to Walebing section—$74.7 million
for upgrades; and the Great Northern Highway upgrade at Port Hedland—works are
completed on the $260 million section.
commitments to fund the economic artery of Australia—otherwise known as the
Great Northern Highway, which links Perth, the ports and the Pilbara—the artery
needs further attention.
MacTiernan: Who made that decision? Who funded that?
PRICE: We are continuing in that vein. It is the
lifeline to the north—to iron ore, oil and gas, tourism and proposed new
agricultural expansion. It is a lifeline to the national economy. Part of the
Great Northern Highway, the road between Kununurra and Wyndham, in its current
state represents both a productivity and a safety issue, thereby inhibiting
development notably in pastoralism, tourism and mining and resources. We know
there are many undeveloped mineral leases in the region. This poor road links
with the Wyndham port, which also has latent potential, just like the Broome
port—both of these are noted in Pivot north, the recently released
report of the joint select committee inquiry into the development of Northern
Australia. Only infrastructure planning and investment at a broad regional and
national level can underpin the prospectivity of the ports as they relate to
both regional and national economic potential.
Another example of
much-needed infrastructure investment relates to the single lane bridges that
still exist in north-west Australia, for example between Broome and Derby, again
on the Great Northern Highway—not so great in parts, you are probably thinking.
These seriously impact on development, including pastoral expansion and
agriculture, again recommendations in the Pivot North report. Only last
year I was personally impacted by the head-on collision on a single lane bridge
of two cattle trucks en route to Derby from Broome. Not only does this poor
infrastructure have an impact on development but also it is, of course, a
significant safety issue for Durack communities.
The obligation of
government is not just to fix up existing infrastructure; it is also to build
the infrastructure needed to open up new areas of potential, especially in
regional and remote Australia. By way of example, I refer to the proposed
development of the Tanami Road, a priority recommendation for upgrade in Pivot
North. This is one road that can open up areas by improving access. The
west-east link section would link the Pilbara to the southern part of Tanami
Road, creating a more direct route from Port Hedland to Alice Springs and
giving access to mineral provinces, providing impetus to the sector. It would
also support the Aboriginal communities along the road, who are often cut off
from goods and services when the road is cut due to poor weather conditions.
The Tanami Road section
from Halls Creek to Yuendumu would improve access to the Kimberley and benefit
many industries, for example, by reducing costs to primary producers and the
resources sector, creating better access to southern markets and opening a new
avenue for tourism. It would create a direct freight corridor between the
Kimberley and South Australia, shorten the journey by some 1,100 kilometres and
17 hours of travel between the south-east and the north-west, give greater
access to the national rail network through Alice Springs, and enable more
rapid resupply or reinforcement of the north-west for defence purposes, along a
secure inland route.
We need to make sure that
Infrastructure Australia is well placed to support the infrastructure agenda.
The government has already set some priorities, including assessing project
proposals that are deemed to receive government funding of $100 million or
more, undertaking an audit of nationally significant infrastructure and
developing a 15-year plan on infrastructure priorities. As a member of the
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, we are currently
undertaking an inquiry into government planning for infrastructure projects. I
look forward to seeing the results of this inquiry, which I am confident will
bring about positive changes with respect to how government plans to implement
infrastructure in Australia.
Today I have highlighted
the importance of infrastructure planning, evaluation, construction and some
identified priorities. I reiterate my support for the bill, which shall clarify
legislative and administrative arrangements for Infrastructure Australia. I
commend the bill to the House.