Shadow minister for infrastructure, transport, cities and tourism Anthony Albanese has asked if anyone knows who actually is in charge of transport and planning spending in the Turnbull Government.
Albanese spoke at the ADC Forum Creating Healthy Cities Summit in Melbourne on Tuesday.
He once again welcomed the recent addition of Jamie Briggs as the new minister for cities and the built environment, under new leadership from Malcolm Turnbull.
But he questioned how the government could make funding decisions in its current state.
“I’m concerned that the minister for cities [Briggs] is working within the Department of Environment, rather than the department that actually drives infrastructure spending – the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development,” Albanese told the summit.
“I’m not surprised the Coalition is confused too.
“At least five of Mr Turnbull’s Ministers claim to have some level of responsibility in this policy area.
“First, there is the minister for cities, Jamie Briggs.
“Then there’s the minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, who is the senior minister to whom Mr Briggs reports.
“There is the minister for major projects, Paul Fletcher, who reports to the deputy prime minister and the actual infrastructure minister, Warren Truss.
“Off to the side is Josh Frydenburg, who as the minister for Northern development, is also talking about infrastructure.”
Albanese, a former deputy prime minister and minister for transport and infrastructure himself, said the government could not give Australians the service they deserve without some clarity on the matter.
“While I welcome this renewed interest in cities, I would prefer to see Malcolm Turnbull funding buses and trains, not just riding them,” he said.
“The national government must commit to tackling congestion. It’s not just about a wasted $53 billion in productivity because of congestion. It’s also about the wellbeing of people in our communities.
“Nobody wins when they’re stuck in a traffic jam. We need to do much more than commit to extra toll roads before there is any business case.”
“We must attack this problem at multiple levels to give all Australians the time and space they deserve to be more than just numbers on someone’s payroll, more than just cogs in a machine.”