Costello ‘looking for alibis’ on Dalrymple Bay, says Beazley

<p>The Howard Government has lost the chance to make lasting investments in national infrastructure during a time of prosperity, opposition leader Kim Beazley told a dinner of the Australian Council for Infrastructure Development last night (Tuesday, March 1). </p> <p>He cited Mr Costello’s comments at the weekend that states might lose GST payments if they did not invest in infrastructure as an example of buck-passing.</p> <p>"The Howard&#47Costello government cannot simply duckshove all responsibility for infrastructure provision onto the states for nine years and suddenly pretend it has a genuine interest," Mr Beazley said.</p> <p>"Of course, that is exactly what Costello is doing in his comments about the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal. </p> <p>"The Reserve Bank has been raising concerns about infrastructure as early as May 2001, yet as late as the end of last year the government was still saying that this was a responsibility of the states." </p> <p>Mr Beazley said the Howard Government was "the greatest securer of alibis of any government I have known". And he compared Mr Costello to the bad sergeant who hides from the enemy under a corpse in the film <em>Platoon, </em> suggesting that the treasurer "would like to see [Queensland premier&#93 Peter Beattie as the corpse". </p> <p>Mr Beazley said that Labor would set up an independent Infrastructure Advisory Council with legislative support, comprised of industry, consumers and expert advisors. </p> <p>The council’s role would be to advise on priority projects and allocate funds in a fair, equitable and transparent manner. </p> <p>"If you give it enough money, then the states will tend to trust it," he said. </p> <p>Labor would also look at removing obstacles to investing Australia’s $650bn superannuation savings in appropriate infrastructure projects, and at further UK-style private&#47public partnerships. </p> <p>Mr Beazley said many aspects of the current AusLink plan are "commendable", including the development of an integrated national land transport plan and the initiative to link road and rail planning, as well as integrated corridor strategies and a strategic approach to priorities and investment.</p> <p>But AusLink has failed to deliver, he said. </p> <p>"There’s no serious attempt to develop a nationally agreed plan," he said. "Instead the AusLink package pitches the states against each other and against the commonwealth by insisting that they enter into bilateral negotiations. </p> <p>"The government plans to walk away from its responsibility for the construction and maintenance of Australia’s national highway network the reason for having AusLink at all." </p> <br />