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senate vote 2014-07-17#16

Edited by system

on 2014-10-07 16:22:21

Title

Description

  • The majority voted against an [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 amendment] introduced by Greens Senator [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate Scott Ludlam], which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "''Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads.''"
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".(Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 here]. ) Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was unsuccessful.
  • ''Background to the bills''
  • The [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5255%22 Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014] and the related [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5256%22 Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014] were introduced to create the Asset Recycling Fund ('ARF').
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.(Read the Deputy Prime Minister [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives Warren Truss]'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm here]. ) Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.(See the [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090 bills digest] for more information. )
  • The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG Council of Australian Governments] voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.(Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].)
  • The majority voted against an [amendment](http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1) introduced by Greens Senator [Scott Ludlam](http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate), which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "_Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads._"
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".(Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [here](http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1). ) Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was unsuccessful.
  • _Background to the bills_
  • The [Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014](http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5255%22) and the related [Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014](http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5256%22) were introduced to create the Asset Recycling Fund ('ARF').
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.(Read the Deputy Prime Minister [Warren Truss](http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives)'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [here](http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm). ) Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.(See the [bills digest](http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090) for more information. )
  • The [Council of Australian Governments](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG) voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.(Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [here](http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964).)
senate vote 2014-07-17#16

Edited by system

on 2014-10-07 16:17:01

Title

Description

  • The majority voted against an [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 amendment] introduced by Greens Senator [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate Scott Ludlam], which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "''Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads.''"
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".[1] Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was unsuccessful.
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".(Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 here]. ) Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was unsuccessful.
  • ''Background to the bills''
  • The [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5255%22 Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014] and the related [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5256%22 Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014] were introduced to create the Asset Recycling Fund ('ARF').
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.[2] Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.[3]
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.(Read the Deputy Prime Minister [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives Warren Truss]'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm here]. ) Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.(See the [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090 bills digest] for more information. )
  • The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG Council of Australian Governments] voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.[4]
  • The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG Council of Australian Governments] voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.(Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].)
  • ''References''
  • * [1] Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 here].
  • * [2] Read the Deputy Prime Minister [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives Warren Truss]'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm here].
  • * [3] See the [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090 bills digest] for more information.
  • * [4] Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].
senate vote 2014-07-17#16

Edited by MA

on 2014-07-25 09:42:49

Title

  • Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014 and Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014 - In Committee - Toll roads
  • Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014 and Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014 In Committee Toll roads

Description

  • The majority voted against an [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 amendment] introduced by Greens Senator [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate Scott Ludlam], which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "''Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads.''"
  • The majority voted against an [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 amendment] introduced by Greens Senator [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate Scott Ludlam], which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "''Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads.''"
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".[1]
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".[1] Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was unsuccessful.
  • ''Background to the bills''
  • The [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5255%22 Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014] and the related [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5256%22 Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014] were introduced to create the Asset Recycling Fund ('ARF').
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.[2] Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.[3]
  • The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG Council of Australian Governments] voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.[4]
  • ''References''
  • * [1] Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 here].
  • * [2] Read the Deputy Prime Minister [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives Warren Truss]'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm here].
  • * [3] See the [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090 bills digest] for more information.
  • * [4] Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].
  • * [4] Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].
senate vote 2014-07-17#16

Edited by MA

on 2014-07-25 09:40:19

Title

  • Bills — Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014, Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014; in Committee
  • Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014 and Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014 - In Committee - Toll roads

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Doug Cameron</p>
  • <p>I seek leave to have amendment (9) on sheet 7486 and amendment (12) on sheet 7486 joined for this amendment.</p>
  • <p>The CHAIRMAN: To be honest, it would be easier for me to leave it the way it is, because both of those amendments are being sought to be amended and it would be neater if we could do them in separate batches. But I am in the hands of the committee.</p>
  • The majority voted against an [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 amendment] introduced by Greens Senator [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Scott_Ludlam&mpc=Senate&house=senate Scott Ludlam], which means that it was unsuccessful. This amendment would have added the following provision: "''Financial assistance granted as mentioned in this Part must not be expended on toll roads.''"
  • Senator Ludlam explained that this would prevent the Asset Recycling Fund from effectively "subsidising private profit in toll roads".[1]
  • ''Background to the bills''
  • The [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5255%22 Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014] and the related [http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5256%22 Asset Recycling Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014] were introduced to create the Asset Recycling Fund ('ARF').
  • The ARF is the fund from which grants to states and territories will be sourced under the Asset Recycling Initiative ('ARI'), which was developed to assist states to privatise assets and to speed up the construction of transport infrastructure in capital cities.[2] Under the ARI, states and territories will be encouraged to sell assets, including transport infrastructure, and use the proceeds to fund new public infrastructure. By way of encouragement, the Commonwealth will provide a financial contribution of 15 per cent of the asset value of the sale that is used to fund the new infrastructure.[3]
  • The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COAG Council of Australian Governments] voted in favour of the ARI on 2 May 2014.[4]
  • ''References''
  • * [1] Read Senator Ludlam's full explanation [http://www.openaustralia.org/senate/?gid=2014-07-17.191.1 here].
  • * [2] Read the Deputy Prime Minister [http://publicwhip-rails.openaustraliafoundation.org.au/mp.php?mpn=Warren_Truss&mpc=Wide%20Bay&house=representatives Warren Truss]'s comments on the initiative on ABC's PM program [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4000807.htm here].
  • * [3] See the [http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1314a/14bd090 bills digest] for more information.
  • * [4] Read more about COAG's decision to agree with the ARI on ABC News [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-02/coag-agrees-to-hockeys-asset-sale-plans/5424964 here].
  • <p class="speaker">David Leyonhjelm</p>
  • <p>Both of those are subject to amendments by me and I would be happy for them to be considered together, because the amendments relate essentially to the same thing.</p>
  • <p>The CHAIRMAN: As long as we get leave for you to move your amendments to the amendments together as well. Is leave granted?</p>
  • <p>Leave granted.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Doug Cameron</p>
  • <p>In relation to the Asset Recycling Fund Bill 2014, I move opposition amendments (9) and (12) on sheet 7486 together:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(9) Clause 19, page 18 (lines 7 to 16), omit the clause, substitute:</p>
  • <p class="italic">19 Recommendations about grants payments</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) The Finance Minister must not make a direction under subsection 18(1) in relation to a grant for an infrastructure project unless the Infrastructure Minister has recommended that a direction be made.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) The Infrastructure Minister must not make a recommendation under subsection (1) in relation to a grant for an infrastructure project if:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) capital expenditure on the project is $100 million or more; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) Infrastructure Australia has not done both of the following:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(i) given the Minister an evaluation of the project (see subsection (3));</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(ii) advised that there are likely to be productivity gains from the project.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(3) Infrastructure Australia's evaluation of an infrastructure project mentioned in subsection (2) must:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) contain a cost benefit analysis of the project, including an estimate of the productivity gains from the project; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) set out any other matter that Infrastructure Australia considers relevant to the project.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(4) The Infrastructure Minister must not make a recommendation under subsection (1) in relation to a grant for an infrastructure project if:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) the grant is for expenditure incurred under the National Partnership Agreement on Asset Recycling; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) the grant does not relate to a transaction that the Treasurer has approved by legislative instrument.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(5) An approval under paragraph (4)(b) must specify the State-owned assets, or the parts of State-owned assets, to the sale of which the transaction relates.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(12) Clause 25, page 21 (lines 4 to 7), omit the clause, substitute:</p>
  • <p class="italic">25 Recommendations about payments</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) The Finance Minister must not make a direction under subsection 24(1) for the purposes of making infrastructure payments for an infrastructure project unless the Infrastructure Minister has recommended that a direction be made.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) The Infrastructure Minister must not make a recommendation under subsection (1) in relation to infrastructure payments for an infrastructure project if:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) capital expenditure on the project is $100 million or more; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) Infrastructure Australia has not done both of the following:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(i) given the Minister an evaluation of the project (see subsection (3)); and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;(ii) advised that there are likely to be productivity gains from the project.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(3) Infrastructure Australia's evaluation of an infrastructure project mentioned in subsection (2) must:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) contain a cost benefit analysis of the project, including an estimate of the productivity gains from the project; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) set out any other matter that Infrastructure Australia considers relevant to the project.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(4) The Infrastructure Minister must not make a recommendation under subsection (1) in relation to infrastructure payments for an infrastructure project if:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a) the payments are for expenditure incurred under the National Partnership Agreement on Asset Recycling; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b) the payments do not relate to a transaction that the Treasurer has approved by legislative instrument.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(5) An approval under paragraph (4)(b) must specify the State-owned assets, or the parts of State-owned assets, to the sale of which the transaction relates.</p>
  • <p>Amendment (9) and amendment (12) are critical amendments that place proper processes around approvals given to projects by the infrastructure minister. These are preconditions to grants or payments from the Asset Recycling Fund, including under the Asset Recycling Initiative. That initiative proposes a Commonwealth contribution to a state or territory totalling 15 per cent of the reinvested proceeds from a privatisation. The bill provides no criteria for deciding how scarce Commonwealth funds will be prioritised to competing projects. Labor's amendment proposes to fix that. As the Parliamentary Library has noted in its <i>Bills Digest</i>, the strong selection criteria that Labor applied under the Building Australia Fund has not been replicated in this bill. As this bill proposes to empty out the BAF, these amendments will retain independent and transparent approval processes around project selection by requiring Infrastructure Australia to green-light projects of over $100 million in value. Good governance follows the money.</p>
  • <p>These amendments are also consistent with the Treasurer's intent to recycle privatisation proceeds into productivity-enhancing infrastructure. They are consistent with Labor's amendments to the Infrastructure Australia Amendment Bill and those we have moved for the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill. These amendments are also consistent with the broad call for independence and transparency of project advice from important stakeholders, such as the Business Council of Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Urban Development Institute, the Bus Industry Confederation, and the Tourism and Transport Forum. These amendments align with the Productivity Commission's recent finding in its interim report on funding of public infrastructure.</p>
  • <p>This is one of the Productivity Commission's findings I agree with. It says:</p>
  • <p class="italic">The overriding message of this draft report is the need for a comprehensive overhaul of processes in the assessment and development of public infrastructure projects.</p>
  • <p>In the case of either a grant, item (3), or a payment, item (6), to a state, territory or other entity in respect of a project greater than $100 million in value, the infrastructure minister must first have received an evaluation of the project from Infrastructure Australia and advice from it that the project is likely to produce productivity gains. IA's evaluation must include a cost-benefit analysis of that project.</p>
  • <p>Additionally, for a project involving the privatisation of a state or territory owned asset and recycling of the proceeds into another asset, the infrastructure minister cannot recommend a project unless the Treasurer has approved the privatisation transaction as eligible for a Commonwealth contribution from the asset recycling fund. The mechanism for this approval will be via a disallowable instrument for each transaction. This proposed change reflects Labor's view that there are good and bad privatisations. Labor believes that the Commonwealth should not reward states, for instance, for selling assets in a fire sale or without adequate regulatory protections.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">David Leyonhjelm</p>
  • <p>by leave&#8212;I move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7532 together:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) Amendment (9), subclauses 19(4) and (5), omit the subclauses.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) Amendment (12), subclauses 25(4) and (5), omit the subclauses.</p>
  • <p>The effect of these two provisions, (9) and (12), in Senator Cameron's amendment on sheet 7486, is to put into legislation a requirement for evaluation of infrastructure projects by Infrastructure Australia&#8212;projects of $100 million or more that are funded from the asset recycling fund. That evaluation includes, in particular, cost-benefit analysis. I support that provision.</p>
  • <p>The agreement between the Commonwealth and the states already agrees that cost-benefit analysis be done, and both sides of politics have a view that Infrastructure Australia is relatively independent. That is a necessary condition, I think, for projects of $100 million or more. We are talking about taxpayers' money here. I have heard the government talk many times about the NBN and the absence of a cost-benefit analysis. It is very important that investments of this size have cost-benefit analysis. However, there is also a provision for Commonwealth funding for projects under the asset recycling fund to require approval by legislative instrument. I oppose this provision as funded projects should not be limited to projects approved by the Senate. That unnecessarily politicises it. My argument is that a cost-benefit analysis is required. I am concerned that, without that, the potential for pork-barrelling exists. Bringing it back to the Senate for approval is unnecessary politicisation.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ludlam</p>
  • <p>I might speak to both of Senator Leyonhjelm's amendments since they have been put as amendments to Senator Cameron's amendments. I will indicate the Australian Greens position on them both at the same time, just to save a bit of time. With respect to Senator Leyonhjelm's acknowledgement that there needs to be transparency, and therefore agreeing with some of what Senator Cameron has produced, we strongly agree that there needs to be a much greater degree of transparency, but the Australian Greens go further. When we talk about transparency, it is not simply about tabling inadequate documents; it is about giving this chamber the opportunity to review some of those decisions, which come at enormous cost to taxpayers. Quite frankly, this is an expression, in my view, of distrust in the way that this government is handling infrastructure disbursements and the way that the former Howard government handled them&#8212;basically parachuting vast&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Ian Macdonald</p>
  • <p>But the Gillard government was fine.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ludlam</p>
  • <p>Senator Macdonald, that is a useful interjection. Ms Gillard and Prime Minister Rudd introduced Infrastructure Australia to prevent you and your colleagues, through you, Chair&#8212;</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p>The CHAIRMAN: Order! I would ask senators not to interject and I would ask you, Senator Ludlam, to address your remarks through me.</p>
  • <p>People have been asking Senator Macdonald not to interject for hundreds of years!</p>
  • <p>The CHAIRMAN: Yes, I have drawn his attention to that too. You have the call, Senator Ludlam.</p>
  • <p>Best of luck with that! That, effectively, Infrastructure Australia place some of these investment decisions at arm's length from politics. We are now seeing, effectively, the reversal of that policy&#8212;an attempt to gut Infrastructure Australia's independence that was rebuffed, amended and returned to the House of Representatives by this place in a quite collaborative way. I strongly support these amendments. We will not be supporting the LDP amendments because, effectively, it takes the teeth out of the transparency. It is not good enough to come in here and just put a document on the table, because people talk all sorts of rubbish about benefit-cost ratios and so on. These amendments need teeth. So we will be opposing the LDP amendments. We will be supporting the opposition amendments so that this parliament does get the final say on investment decisions of this scope.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mathias Cormann</p>
  • <p>I have already indicated that we did not support the underlying opposition amendments because we do not believe that it is appropriate in the context of these projects to give parliament the authority to disallow investments in infrastructure because of the uncertainty it creates in the context of Commonwealth-state relations around very important and significant infrastructure projects.</p>
  • <p>I would just say to Senator Leyonhjelm that if he is under the impression that there would be no cost-benefit analysis undertaken if Labor's amendment does not get up, that is not right. There is actually a cost-benefit analysis that is taking place and it appropriately takes place at the state level. The Labor Party amendment is seeking to double up by essentially having a cost-benefit analysis at the state level and then another cost-benefit analysis at the federal level. We think that is unnecessarily doubling up. It seeks to usurp the responsibility of the states in relation to these sorts of projects, which is why we appreciate the intent of these amendments to the amendments, put forward by Senator Leyonhjelm. They would still leave in place opposition changes that would add to project approval times and administrative overheads. I might just flag that, when this bill goes back to the House of Representatives the government will not be in a position to accept the bill, as it is being amended by the Senate.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>