Barnett and Buswell treat Western Australians like fools

Western Australian Senator Louise Pratt today accused Premier Barnett and Treasurer Buswell of saying anything to Western Australians and believing they can get away with it.

Senator Pratt added that with any issues they didn't want to take responsibility for, Mr Barnett and Mr Buswell saw the Australian Government as an easy place to lay the blame.

"Earlier this week, Troy Buswell said that a request to reallocate funding to upgrade the Bindi Bindi Curves section of the Great Northern Highway was "gathering dust" on Minister Albanese's desk," Senator Pratt said.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. First up the State Government told the Australian Government that the project would cost $20million and asked for a $16million contribution. After that, money was approved the State Government realised they needed twice that amount - $40million - so now Minister Albanese's Department is assessing the new request.

"It is just too rich to turn around and blame the Australian Government for that.

"It is clear Troy Buswell thinks he can say anything and the WA public will buy it.

"All up, the Australian Government is currently spending $249 million upgrading and maintaining the Great Northern, targeting priority areas around Perth and Port Hedland.

"Yesterday, Troy Buswell said the Australian Government was being 'petty' asking for the billions of dollars it is investing in Western Australian infrastructure to be properly acknowledged in the taxpayer funded the 'Get the Bigger Picture' campaign.

"What IS petty is Troy Buswell leaking the letter Minister Albanese wrote to him reminding him of the contractual need to acknowledge Australian Government funding of infrastructure projects. He is playing petty politics with a legitimate request. The Australian Government has no problem with this request being made public. But Buswell's leaking of it shows he is looking for an opportunity to bleat the same old tired story... Barnett Government... good... Australian Government ... bad.

"Colin Barnett and Troy Buswell have spent $1.5million of taxpayers money on false advertising in the 'Get the Bigger Picture' campaign in order to get them re-elected. How do Western Australians feel about their money being used to mislead them?

"Long established contractual arrangements for funding between State and Australian Government require the State to acknowledge Australian Government funding on any public materials. But that is conveniently forgotten by the State Government when it is trying to pull the wool over voters' eyes at election time.

"There is nothing petty about a billion dollars. That's what the Australian Government is spending on infrastructure in WA this year. We've never seen so much money flowing to WA before.

"The State government conveniently forgets money from the Australian Government now it is in the run to an election.

"This is classic Barnett Government behaviour ... anything that is any good happening in WA is all the result of their hard work and brilliance.

State-wide, the Gillard Government has almost doubled annual Federal infrastructure spending from $154 to $261 per Western Australian. All up, we are investing a record $3.7 billion over six years to modernise the State's transport infrastructure.

The Gillard Labor Government is investing a record $3.7 billion in Western Australian roads and rail infrastructure, with $1 billion million being provided in the coming financial year alone (over the six-year life of our current Nation Building Program -2008-09 to 2013-14).

This investment is almost twice what the former Howard Government spent over a similar period of time WA.

The 'Get the Bigger Picture' campaign refers to four big projects that rely on a massive injection of Federal money:

  • The $1 billion Gateway WA project is getting 69 per cent of its funding, or $686million, from the Federal Government. Gateway WA is a major upgrade of the roads around Perth Airport, including widening the Tonkin and Leach Highways from four to six lanes and building new interchanges along the highway.
  • Perth City Link (undergrounding of rail) is costing $360 million, of which $236 million (66 per cent) is coming from the Federal Government
  • Light rail pilot study to link Perth's inner northern suburbs with the CBD. Costing $15.8 million, of which $4 million is being provided by the Federal Government
  • Fiona Stanley Hospital: The Federal Government is fully-funding a $255.7 milliorehabilitation centre in association with the hospital.

Contact: Office of Senator Louise Pratt – 0417 175 220 / (08) 9225 4411