| May 21, 2018

Motion on Victorian infrastructure

 This bill gives me a great opportunity to speak in relation to infrastructure, certainly in Victoria, but also to the lack of spending on infrastructure in regional Victoria. This bill, this motion, has been worded so heavily towards western Melbourne. It goes to show, again, where everybody's thoughts are in relation to trying to appease the congestion associated with two of our biggest cities in Australia—having 40 per cent of this nation's population existing in Sydney and Melbourne and thinking that the answer to this congestion is to spend more money in the cities, put more lanes on the freeways and put more rail services in place as opposed to investing in the regions as a potential option for population growth.

The previous member spoke about the regional rail project in Victoria. It was a good project, but he forgot to mention that it was built by the coalition government. I know because I was in the coalition government that built it. Don't let the facts get in the way here! The fact is that we were the ones who put six different companies in charge of that project. We built the new rail systems—new rail lines at Wyndham and Tarneit. We built them. I was in the government that built them. So the conversation has to be: 'When that project was first designed by Labor, why did they just put it in the Labor based seats of Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong?' It was a project of $3.5 billion. Why would you exclude northern Victoria? Why would you exclude the Shepparton line? Why would you exclude the Latrobe Valley line? Why would you exclude Wangaratta and Wodonga?

Why would you make those lines continue, every time they hit Melbourne, to have to work their way through the metropolitan sprawl? We all understand what that means: it slows down the lines by about an additional half an hour every time.

These are simply the facts that we have now. We have a two-tier system in Victoria because the Labor Party has put direct lines from Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong straight through to Southern Cross but, if you happen to be coming in from the Latrobe Valley, you'll get stuck behind the metropolitan system. If you're coming in from the north, you'll get stuck behind the metropolitan system. That's simply the way it is.

So we see a huge difference now between the Labor Party and the coalition looking for the answers to livability of our states. Certainly, as our major capital cities of Melbourne and Sydney continue to grow, we have to look elsewhere to try to find the answers for this growth. It's very difficult trying to partner with the Victorian state Labor government at the moment when you consider that they've been in government for 15 of the last 19 years. They own the congestion problems of Melbourne. They own the lack of rail services to most parts of northern Victoria. They own that because they've been in government for 15 of the last 19 years. As we have noticed, we have now announced $5 billion to put the airport rail link in place. I understand that this can, in fact, be done for about that amount of money. Again, we have a Victorian Labor Party, who are on the go-slow with that project.

We have here the member for Gellibrand, who has put this bill forward, suggesting that somehow or other they spent and committed more money when they were in government than is currently being spent. The fact is that from 2007-08 to 2012-13, under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd six years, they spent just over $6 billion per annum in total infrastructure spend. Under this government, from 2013-14 to 2021-22, the average infrastructure spend will be over $8 billion. Since 2012-13, the Australian government has provided $24.7 billion in grants to state governments to support major infrastructure. So, every way you look at it, this government has invested in infrastructure. We need it to be done in an equitable fashion, and we need to look after regional Victoria.

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