Thursday, 14 May 2009
Questions without Notice
Nation Building and Jobs Plan
Paterson’s curse is a purple flower. I did not know you were a shrinking violet, but I withdraw—unreservedly. If you want to actually look at what those opposite did, you can go to the ‘Nationals audit office’ report. The Nationals audit office is back. The Nationals audit office report on the delivery of projects on the AusLink national network makes terrific reading when it comes to their failure to deliver on their promises in the Hunter. It outlines how, in September 2005 in the AusLink agreement put up by the former government, the Howard government included funding for the project of some $382 million. It also outlines how the former government knew that in May 2005 the appropriate authorities had estimated the cost to be twice that: $765 million. What happened was that, as part of AusLink, they allocated $382 million and it just stayed there. It got reallocated and spent in other areas, not in the Hunter. They delivered nothing; through AusLink nothing was delivered. The majority of the money was set aside and allocated to other projects.
But, of course, because they did nothing—with what was happening to the global economy with increased costs for steel and concrete and with the growth and boom in our region—costs went up. In July 2007 there was a new estimate, all outlined in this report. The RTA revised the cost estimate of the project to $1.2 billion in 2007 dollars, an out-turn cost of between $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion. In Tuesday night’s budget, we allocated $1.65 billion—$1.45 billion from the Commonwealth and $200 million from New South Wales. The coalition knew about the revised cost. They knew about it, but in the heat of the 2007 election that counted for nothing. In November 2007, the then Prime Minister flew in to Williamtown air base and made a promise of $780 million for a project that they had been advised—