WA accounts for 11 per cent of the population and 33 per cent of the Australian landmass. Our state manages the costs and the logistical challenges of remoteness on an unprecedented scale. It needs to be supported, especially in a time of sharp economic downturn, but we’ve not yet received a fair or proportionate investment from the Abbott-Turnbull government.
Mr Wilson (5:34pm) — I thank the member for Cowan for bringing this motion forward. In her first 12 months as a representative, she’s worked incredibly hard to be a responsive and strong advocate for her community. A big part of that has involved arguing for much-needed infrastructure projects in Perth’s northern suburbs. I’m proud to work with her and my other WA Labor colleagues to fight for Western Australia’s fair share of infrastructure investment, a fair share that has not been forthcoming under a coalition government that continues to take the west for granted. We need that investment because it means the ability to deliver public transport, it means shipbuilding and port facilities, and it means bridges and black spot solutions that reduce congestion and improve safety.
Smart, forward-looking investment in infrastructure is important because it lifts productivity, creates jobs and creates opportunities for small businesses and home businesses alike. But, unfortunately, this government has underinvested in national infrastructure. Not even their best year of investment can match the lowest year of investment under the former Labor government. In WA, we have had the worst of it. WA accounts for 11 per cent of the population and 33 per cent of the Australian landmass. Our state manages the costs and the logistical challenges of remoteness on an unprecedented scale. It needs to be supported, especially in a time of sharp economic downturn, but we’ve not yet received a fair or proportionate investment from the Abbott-Turnbull government. On this issue, the numbers do not lie.
In the course of the election campaign, the coalition made a set of promises across Australia about road and bridge projects. There were 78 projects; only three were in Western Australia. That’s not 10 per cent; that’s not even five per cent. From the $220 million Regional Jobs and Investment Packages—a program designed to fund projects that address areas of high unemployment—WA was the only state to miss out altogether. Ten projects were selected; none were in Western Australia. That’s not even five per cent; that’s zero per cent. When WA was named one of two naval shipbuilding hubs, I thought that would give us a chance of something like half the work and maybe half the investment—certainly, that’s what the WA Liberals would like you to think. In June, they took out a sequence of full-page ads in The West Australian about shipbuilding that said ’50 per cent’ in bold, white text on a bright-blue Liberal circle. But are we getting 50 per cent? No, not exactly. Of the $89 billion in defence shipbuilding work, WA is getting $3.5 billion. That’s not half. In fact, as you might have guessed, it’s less than 5 per cent.
You can come into this place with all the rhetorical flair that you like, with all of the spin and with all of the full-page ads in The West Australian, but no amount of bluster and no amount of advertising dollars can spin the truth into some kind of fairytale. When you look at the paltry investment by the Abbott-Turnbull government, the numbers tell the story. The numbers do not lie. In fact, the one measure in which we are overrepresented—in which we get more than our fair share in Western Australia—is in the numbers of Liberal and National party members that come to this place. That’s the evil genius of the last four years: the coalition do next to nothing for WA, all the time relying on their sense of entitlement to represent our state. That strategy does not seem to be changing. The faith by those opposite in the power of cynical advertising and playing the blame game remains as strong as ever. They’ll keep running ads in The West Australian saying ‘we’re getting 50 per cent’, they’ll keep blaming a brand new Labor government for the combined failures of the Abbott-Turnbull federal government and the Barnett state government for what they’ve not delivered over the last four years.
I knew that the member for Tangney was going to speak today. I steeled myself to hear about his brilliant plan to bring back the disastrous and the pointless Roe 8 project. I was so looking forward to his description of the fantastic negotiations by which we clawed back the $1.2 billion for a series of important projects in both of our electorates. I was thinking that he might come in to talk about some innovation funding for this time machine that he clearly wants to build so that he can go back and change recent history. They say that there are millions of alternate universes. There will not be an alternate universe in which you can find Roe 8 making any sense—but he’s welcome to keep looking.
I would much rather work collaboratively with the member for Tangney on something sensible to benefit our state and, indeed, to benefit the adjoining communities we represent. If there’s a prospect of creating a City Deal that extends south of the river, I’d be glad to work with him on achieving support from the federal government for a light-rail corridor between Fremantle and Murdoch Central that would catalyse transport-oriented development and create jobs. People in Western Australia want to see their representatives working together, and I’d be very happy to do that. But, first things first: the Abbott-Turnbull government needs to change its game, it needs to stop neglecting WA, it needs to stop the spin, it needs to stop taking the people of Western Australia for fools and it needs to stop taking our state for granted.