Princes Highway Funding



About this Item
SubjectsFederal State Relations; Roads: Princes Highway; Finance: Federal; Roads and Traffic Authority: RTA
SpeakersBrown Mr Matt; Acting-Speaker (Mr John Mills); Hancock Mrs Shelley; Hay Ms Noreen; Constance Mr Andrew; Saliba Ms Marianne; Acting-Speaker (Ms Marie Andrews)
BusinessDivision, Motion


    PRINCES HIGHWAY FUNDING
Page: 18484


    Urgent Motion

    Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama—Parliamentary Secretary) [4.10 p.m.]: I move:

    That this House:

    (1) condemns the Federal Government for its failure to include the Princes Highway south of Wollongong in AusLink's new national network; and

    (2) calls on the Federal Government to explain why it excluded such an important highway from the new Federal roads funding agreement.

    As the House now realises, John Howard and his crew decided they would not fund the bulk of the Princes Highway upgrade. Any road south of Wollongong to the Victorian border will not receive money under the new Federal Government funding arrangements, called AusLink.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: You didn't ask for it.

    Mr MATT BROWN: The honourable member for South Coast interjects that the New South Wales Government did not ask for it.

    Mr Andrew Constance: You didn't put it in your submission, you clown.

    Mr MATT BROWN: The honourable member for Bega offers this furphy as well.

    Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr John Mills): Order! The honourable member for South Coast will resume her seat. She will have the opportunity to contribute to the debate later, if she wishes to do so.

    Mr MATT BROWN: At last we hear some noise from the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Bega. They have been silent about funding for South Coast roads during the whole AusLink process. After the AusLink agreement has been finalised, they have the hide to say in this Chamber that the New South Wales Government did not seek this funding in the submission. They are wrong and they are gutless. They are wrong because it is in the funding submission. And, if it is not in the submission, what have they been doing? They have been asleep at the wheel, as usual. Presumably the honourable member for Bega had a sudden thought: "I knew there was something I forgot to do—lobby my Federal colleagues for some funding for the Princes Highway." They are a joke, in every sense of the word!

    Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr John Mills): Order! The honourable member for Bega will resume his seat.
    Mr MATT BROWN: The Federal Government not only refused the repeated appeals from New South Wales to include the whole length of the highway in AusLink funding but now claims that the State did not even ask for it to be a part of the deal. The Federal Government's own web site contradicts that ridiculous claim. On the Federal Government's web site the New South Wales submission for the Princes Highway asks that the Federal Government fund the road south of Wollongong. It is there in black and white buzzing away on the screen. That contradicts the Opposition's argument. The New South Wales submission requesting funding for the Princes Highway is clearly on the Federal Government's own web site. The submission proposes that the coastal route from Sydney to Melbourne via Wollongong be included in the national network. Where is the New South Wales funding submission, Shirley? The honourable member for South Coast should go to the site and read the submission, which says:

    The F6 and the Princes Highway provide essential links to Wollongong, the Illawarra region and the South Coast of New South Wales.

    That is part of the New South Wales Government submission, which is on the Federal Government's web site. Yet, for some bizarre reason, the Federal Government says we did not make a submission in relation to the highway. Someone is not talking to someone, that is for sure. The New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] took up the cause of the entire Princes Highway from the moment negotiations opened about AusLink in 2002. In fact, even before that time New South Wales had been arguing that the Princes Highway should be included as part of the Federal Government's previous roads of national importance [RONI] program. I am advised by senior RTA staff who conducted negotiations on our behalf that the Princes Highway was repeatedly raised, but that its calls fell on deaf ears. The Princes Highway did not appear in the final AusLink white paper, despite the New South Wales submission and repeated requests. From the start the Federal Government stubbornly refused to include the Princes Highway south of Wollongong in AusLink.

    The honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Bega keep saying, "Why didn't you do it?" We did do it. But, more to the point, why did they not do it? Where are their submissions about the highway? They abrogated their responsibilities as local members. They did not talk to their Federal colleagues. Why did they not do something and make submissions that the road needs funding? They left it all up to the RTA, which did a very good job. The RTA was told in no uncertain terms that the Federal Government would not countenance the inclusion of this important road.

    As to the development of the AusLink road funding deal, in 2002 the Federal Government released a discussion paper outlining its position on a whole range of major roads across Australia. The New South Wales Government was alarmed to note that the Great Western Highway and the Princes Highway were excluded from AusLink's new national network. The consequence of being excluded from the network was that the Federal Government would not contribute money for upgrades. The new national network replaces the old system of RONI funding. Under the new national network, the Princes Highway south of Wollongong has missed out. In its first proposal the Federal Government also refused to contribute money to upgrade the Great Western Highway.

    On behalf of the New South Wales Government, the RTA went in to bat for these important roads. It put the case that they should be included in the new AusLink national network and benefit from Federal Government contributions to upgrades. The people of our State would expect nothing less, especially as they have paid billions of dollars to the Federal Government each year in fuel excise tax. Australian motorists contribute $13.6 billion in fuel excise every year but get back only $1.6 billion, shared around the country. It is a rotten return on their investment.

    It is ironic that the Federal Government, which collects this fuel excise, has a similar amount in its surplus. I digress; I will return to the point. As we all know, AusLink was a terrible deal for New South Wales. But, as we all know, we reluctantly signed it, because a $298 million loss is better than a $940 million loss. What sort of national Government gives a State that sort of choice? A heartless, callous, miserable Liberal-National Party Coalition! What sort of management and leadership does that represent? It was a case of "Sign this and we will give you a kicking; if you do not sign we will kick the guts out of you."

    Let us remember that just a few weeks ago in this House Opposition members, including the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Bega, voted against debating AusLink. They had something to hide. They know they did not put in a submission. They did not support funding for the roads going through their electorates. At the time that the Minister for Roads was pleading with the Prime Minister for a better deal for New South Wales motorists, the State Coalition opposed debate on this issue. Shame on them! Obviously they knew their position was indefensible and, like ostriches, they preferred to stick their heads in the sand.
    After the AusLink agreement was signed, I was astonished to learn that the Federal Member for Gilmore was making the same assertions. She claimed that the Federal Government shafted the Princes Highway and the communities it serves because the State Government had not included the highway in its AusLink submission. I have worked closely with the Federal member for Gilmore on many issues and I am disappointed that she has tried to focus this debate away from her Government's lack of funding for the road by saying it was not in the submission. It was in the submission! Again I make the point: Why did she not lobby for her electorate? Why did she not get out there and do some work to convince her Government? She is a member of those conservative misfits down in Canberra. She is a part of that mob. Why did she not lobby to get funds for her roads?

    I kid you not: she would have her community believe that the New South Wales Government had neglected to fill in a form when the facts are clearly posted on the Federal Government's web site. These were desperate measures. The honourable member was simply trying to deflect attention from her own woeful inadequacies. Many people on the South Coast, including mayor Alex Darling, want the Prime Minister to finally come to the Illawarra and South Coast and to see for himself the parlous state of our roads. The State Government will continue to lobby to get its fair share of roads funding to enable it to look after New South Wales motorists. [Time expired.]

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK (South Coast) [4.20 p.m.]: Before turning to the facts relating to AusLink I must refute some of the comments made by the honourable member for Kiama. The first was the suggestion that I have been silent so far as the Princes Highway is concerned. I have raised the subject of the Princes Highway on more occasions in this Chamber that he could count on the fingers of two hands. I have raised it in an urgent motion, as a matter of public importance and in various other ways in this House. On numerous occasions honourable members have heard me present petitions from people concerned about the condition of the Princes Highway. In fact, it is the honourable member for Kiama who has been utterly silent on the Princes Highway.

    Mr Matt Brown: Point of order—

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK: Now the member for Kiama is going to try to cut down my time, is he?

    Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr John Mills): Order! The honourable member for Kiama is seeking to take a point of order. I would point out to members on both sides of the House that the Chair takes a dim view of spurious points of order.

    Mr Matt Brown: My point of order is that I did not say she did not make it here. She did not—

    Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr John Mills): Order! That is not a point of order and the honourable member for Kiama should know better. He has a right of reply in this debate.

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK: The other matter that I have to refute is the suggestion that the Federal member for Gilmore, Joanna Gash, has not lobbied for funding for the Princes Highway. I have never in my life heard anything so ridiculous! The Federal member for Gilmore, the honourable member for Bega and I have talked ad nauseum about the Princes Highway on radio and in the newspapers. In fact, in the past six months Joanna Gash has been successful in lobbying for an additional $20 million for the Princes Highway. Once again the honourable member for Kiama has not done his research.

    Let me refer to some of the debates that have taken place during the past week about AusLink. Last week the Minister for Roads finally signed the AusLink agreement. He claimed he had been pressured by the Federal Government into signing it. He then claimed in the local media that, despite the so-called mountains of paperwork that had been forthcoming from the New South Wales Government arguing for increased funding for the Princes Highway south of Wollongong, the Federal Government, and in particular Joanna Gash, had let down the people of the South Coast. I listened carefully to the Minister's comments last week. I listened carefully to the honourable member for Kiama, who also claimed that the New South Wales Government had argued strongly for funding for the Princes Highway throughout the AusLink discussions. I was most concerned that both the Minister and the honourable member opposite had so blatantly misled the community about the negotiations that took place in 2003 regarding the AusLink green paper.

    I will have to summarise what happened in relation to the AusLink discussions, because I noted that the honourable member for Kiama was not present at one of the conferences I attended in 2002 when AusLink was first talked about. He was not party to those discussions, and he was not present when the green paper was released. He should not debate the issue if he cannot do his research appropriately and arm himself with the facts about the Princes Highway. Honourable members know that the purpose of AusLink is to develop an integrated national land transport network that will be far more extensive than the old national highway system; it will include key corridors and links of national strategic importance. The AusLink green paper was released in 2002 and sought submissions on a range of questions, including the corridors and links that should be included. These are facts and the honourable member for Kiama and Minister have got it wrong. The New South Wales Government lodged a 40-page submission which I have here.

    Mr Matt Brown: Table it!

    Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK: I can table it, if the honourable member for Kiama has not read it. Of course I can table it for his benefit. Clearly, he has not read it. If the honourable member had read the 40-page submission and was looking for any reference to the Princes Highway, he would be looking for long time. There are only three lines of reference to the Princes Highway. What did the submission argue for? First, it argued for the retention of the 1991 roads agreement, which separated roads into areas of responsibility—Federal, State and local government. That was the agreement signed in 1991, and the New South Wales Government argued for the retention of that hierarchical structure. The Government regarded AusLink as confusing the boundaries and so voted for retention of the 1991 agreement. The 1991 agreement stated that the Princes Highway is a State Government responsibility, and at that stage the New South Wales Government accepted that it was a State Government responsibility. As I said, there is scant reference to the Princes Highway in the submission, which contains three lines relating to the Princes Highway.

    To be fair, at the time there was a brief two-line request from the State Government identifying the Princes Highway as a corridor of critical importance for regional economic growth and development. Let us get the facts right, but there were no mountains of paperwork that both the honourable member and the Minister referred to last week. Following the receipt of submissions the SCOT working group was established. I am sure the honourable member for Kiama has not heard about that group. It was established to discuss the funding submissions from all of the States regarding the links they wanted included in the final AusLink white paper. Those discussions took place over a period of 12 months or more. For 12 months the States had an opportunity to submit its priorities for road funding. At that stage the New South Wales Government had the perfect opportunity to argue strongly for the inclusion of its priority links and, of course, the Princes Highway.

    After a meeting in June 2003—I assume the honourable member for Kiama is not aware of that meeting either—the SCOT working group was brought together and, once again, there was a discussion about the regional links that the States wanted included in the AusLink network. However, the New South Wales Government did not argue strongly for further consideration of the Princes Highway. It argued strongly for the Sydney-Central West corridor and, finally, the Sydney-Central West corridor was included in AusLink. I commend the New South Wales State Government for arguing for something, but it did not argue for the Princes Highway. In 2003 it gave up on the Princes Highway. Honourable members opposite should do their research and find out the facts.

    It has now been revealed that when it counted for the people of the South Coast, and at the most opportune time for it to do so, the New South Wales Government argued strenuously for other links but dropped the ball on the Princes Highway and failed to pursue its inclusion as an AusLink corridor. By the way, those other links were subsequently included. The Minister's claim last week that there were mountains of paperwork is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. For him to meekly suggest that he asked five weeks ago for the Princes Highway to be included is a joke. It was an absolute joke to have asked five weeks ago when the decisions had already been made six months ago. It was a little late, but we have to forgive the Minister because he is new to his portfolio. Clearly, he did not understand what had happened over three years with regard to AusLink.

    I cannot forgive the former Minister and the honourable member for Kiama for so blatantly misrepresenting the truth to the people of the South Coast. The honourable member for Kiama should have been in a position at the time to argue for funding for the Princes Highway. After all, he was a member of the Government at the time and still is. But he did not. His constituents are now aware of the facts, because they were reported in today's South Coast Register under the headline, "The RTA failed to seek highway funding". In fact, the local paper has done its own research and discovered the facts. It has researched the past two to three years, way back to when the AusLink green paper was released. The honourable member for Kiama is misrepresenting the truth to his constituents. The South Coast Register article says:

    The bottom line is that the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority failed to pursue the inclusion of the Princes Highway south of Wollongong and did not provide detailed data on this link to support its inclusion.

    We must now work together to ensure that, as negotiations proceed for the next round of AusLink funding, the Federal Government is provided with the data and information on the Princes Highway that it has continually requested. The RTA is now starting to provide the data, which was gleaned from Shoalhaven City Council and the working group that was set up to address the Princes Highway. Time and again, the RTA and the New South Wales Government have failed to provide any detailed data to the Federal Government. [Time expired.]

    Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong) [4.30 p.m.]: I am amazed to hear the honourable member for South Coast once again blaming the New South Wales Government for the failure of the Howard Federal Government to provide funding for the Princes Highway. Indeed, she has made similar comments on so many other occasions that I could almost repeat her words verbatim. On numerous occasions in this place I have participated in debate, including debate on urgent motions, specifically related to calling on the Federal Government to provide funding for the Princes Highway. In relation to funding for roads of national importance [RONIs], I called on the Federal Government to include the Princes Highway as a RONI and to direct funds to it from its huge surplus.

    It appears that Opposition members have completely ignored any opportunity to say to their colleagues, "Just bear in mind that it is a Liberal-Coalition Government that is in control of these massive funds, which could assist the Princes Highway." But, as usual, we have heard not one word of criticism of the Federal Government from members opposite, who represent people who live on the Princes Highway and claim to suffer from a lack of funding for that highway despite the fact that the New South Wales Government has allocated funding in excess of $300 million for it.

    The Federal member for Gilmore, Joanna Gash, has been on radio bragging about black spot funding, but what do we have from the honourable member for South Coast? Does she represent her electorate? No. We do not hear from her, because it is her mates who will not put in the money. It is a disgrace that members opposite criticise roads such as the Princes Highway. A few months ago I organised a delegation of the South Coast group of unions to meet with the Minister. The delegation included the Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Alex Darling. Two years ago Alex Darling met with John Howard.

    [Interruption]

    I am sure this is boring and tiring for the honourable member for South Coast to listen to. Nevertheless, two years ago John Howard told the Lord Mayor of Wollongong that he would have a look at the Princes Highway.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Say something new.

    Ms NOREEN HAY: Yes, something new like, "Shelley, give them a call and get some money." Given that the Federal Government is in control of a huge surplus and is wasting money on advertisements, one would think that members opposite would ask their colleagues for funding for the Princes Highway. But that has not occurred. Two years ago John Howard promised to have a look at the Princes Highway, but he has failed to do so. Apparently, next week he will visit the area to open a Federal Senator's office and attend a fundraising event at $250 a head. I am not quite sure where that money is going. However, John Howard has not fulfilled his commitment to have a look at the Princes Highway or to deliver to improve the road and help to save lives some of the funds that are being wasted on advertisements directed at taking away workers' rights to the Princes Highway.

    Even the Save Our Bloody Roads campaign by the NRMA highlighted the need for Federal Government funding for the Princes Highway. No matter how many times we hear from Joanna Gash or the honourable member for South Coast, we do not hear from them one word of demand for the Federal Government to provide funding for the Princes Highway. They do not even ask the Federal Government to put some of the $3 billion GST rip-off back into the Princes Highway. Joanna Gash and the honourable member for South Coast should apologise to their electorates for failing to represent them and for failing to demand that the Federal Government provide funding to the New South Wales Government for the Princes Highway.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Did you put in a submission?

    Ms NOREEN HAY: With regard to putting in submissions, I would have thought that the honourable member for South Coast and her colleagues would have done plenty of that. We on this side of the House have done so. The honourable member for South Coast should not criticise us in that regard.

    Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE (Bega) [4.35 p.m.]: Was that not a wonderful contribution! People are fed up with the squabbling and bickering that goes on between politicians in the various tiers of government. Last year 26 people lost their lives on the Princes Highway, and over the past two years 1,050 people have been injured on it. Yet an enormous amount of bickering continues to take place regarding responsibility for funding the highway. All of us need to take a hard look at our overall approach to the Princes Highway.

    In May this year I wrote to the State Coroner requesting him to conduct an inquest, pursuant to the Act, into the fatal accidents that have occurred on the Princes Highway. Whilst we are three or four weeks away from receiving the Coroner's determination, I am pleased to report to the House that the Coroner has referred a number of those fatal accidents to the NSW Police Traffic Commissioner for further input. The reason I raise the issue is that it goes to the heart of the problem. We all know that the Princes Highway is massively underresourced. The comments of the honourable member for Wollongong are a bit rich. The highway is being funded to the tune of $380 million by the State Government over a 12-year period, but $317 million of that $380 million is being spent on upgrades north of Kiama. That money also includes Federal Government funding for the North Kiama bypass.

    For the area south of Kiama, the funding works out at about $5 million annually for 400 kilometres of highway. It is a goat track, but next to nothing is being spent. The budget for the State Government's roads program is $2.9 billion. In other words, 0.98 per cent of the State's total roads program budget is being spent on that highway. It is, therefore, a bit rich for any Government member to claim that we should go to the Federal Government for such funding. Why are Government members not putting up a good case to their State roads Minister as to why funding for the Princes Highway should come from the State budget?

    We need to prepare a good submission as negotiations proceed for the second round of AusLink funding. I find it bewildering that the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA], which is one of the oldest and most incompetent bureaucracies within the State Government—a bureaucracy full of people who are comfortable in their jobs—failed in its initial response to the green paper to put forward the Princes Highway for further consideration. A working group was formed to recommend either the inclusion or exclusion from the network of key State roads. The RTA responded, requesting further consideration of the exclusion of the Sydney-Central West corridor, but it made no reference to the proposed exclusion of the Princes Highway south of Wollongong. The Central West corridor was given further consideration, and has now been included in the AusLink network. The RTA did not pursue the inclusion of the Princes Highway and did not provide detailed data on this link to support its inclusion.

    Mr Matt Brown: Did you?

    Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: The honourable member for Kiama asks whether I did. I would like to see his submission. Indeed, he should table his submission.

    Mr Matt Brown: I was with the RTA.

    Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Conveniently, the honourable member for Kiama was with the RTA. That makes him an incompetent fool because he should have included it at that stage of the submissions and we might have had a better chance of getting the money. The reality is that he did not do so and he has failed constantly to go to the State Minister for Roads and argue for more money for the highway south of Kiama. Now that the boundaries of the honourable member's electorate are being extended further south as part of the redistribution, he is starting to panic. He is starting to wonder how he is going to get the Berry bypass in before the next election and how he is going to start to address the area around Foxground. We know the truth. The Government has a $2.9 billion roads program budget this year alone and it is spending $5 million on 400 kilometres south of Kiama. That is a joke! We should also throw in the fact that the State Government is getting a 70 per cent increase in roads funding as a result of the AusLink program. He hoped that increased funding would free up money from elsewhere around the State to spend on the Princes Highway, where lives are being lost. The Government is incompetent.

    Ms MARIANNE SALIBA (Illawarra) [4.40 p.m.]: The honourable member for Bega should be ashamed of himself. He represents people on the South Coast who use the Princes Highway and who suffer day in and day out. The honourable member is fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose when he goes to his electorate. Those who live down there suffer the road every single day of the week. He and his State colleague the honourable member for South Coast and the Federal member for Gilmore—and they all belong to the same political party—had the opportunity to work together to lobby the Federal Government to ensure that there was funding for the Princes Highway. They have failed their constituents. They have let the people of the South Coast down. I am absolutely appalled to hear the kinds of things that they have said in this Chamber today because they have an obligation to look after those people.

    The honourable member for Kiama has worked very hard to ensure that the North Kiama bypass is in and that money has been made available for the Princes Highway. It would be good to know that other members further down the South Coast were working hard to make sure that their constituents are looked after as well. In my electorate of Illawarra the Princes Highway is an important road. Almost 50,000 vehicles travel on the Princes Highway daily. In many cases people's livelihoods depend on the highway as it is their only way of travelling up and down the coast. The Princes Highway is listed as highway No. 1. It is the most important highway in Australia and, as such, it should be funded by the Federal Government. On 3 October I heard Joanna Gash say on ABC radio:

    Certainly my understanding is that Joe Tripodi—

    who is, of course, the Minister for Roads—

    did not even try to have the Princes Highway included in the bilateral agreement with AusLink.

    That is not true. In fact the honourable member for the South Coast has said just that today. She said that it was mentioned in that submission.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Mentioned.

    Ms MARIANNE SALIBA: It was mentioned in that submission, and it should have been pursued vigorously by other members in this Chamber and by members of the Federal Parliament to ensure that the funding was made available. The State Minister for Roads spoke to the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, about six weeks ago in Sydney. The Minister for Roads asked his Federal counterpart directly to include the entire length of the highway in the agreement but his request was refused. Joanna Gash should apologise for misleading the constituents of the whole Illawarra region. She should also apologise to State Parliament because she has made a statement that was inaccurate.

    If the honourable member for Gilmore thought the State Government was doing such a poor job negotiating for roads for her community, what did she do about it? She has direct links to the Federal Minister and could have made a submission. She should have been representing the people of her electorate. I am also sick of the Princes Highway being used as a ping-pong ball; it is not. This is about providing the best services that we can for the people of our community. Since 1994-95 the State Government has put more than $380 million into the Princes Highway, and it is still committed to it. It has been all through the Illawarra region—

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: No!

    Ms MARIANNE SALIBA: Yes, it has. We have widened roads; we have put in turning bays in areas to avoid accidents. In my electorate there have been significant amounts of funding for the Princes Highway. Funding has not only been provided for North Kiama; it has been provided in a number of areas. It has been provided in the most important areas where it will prevent accidents and save people's lives. Members on the Opposition benches should support this urgent motion. They should speak up and challenge their Federal counterparts to ensure that the money is made available for the Princes Highway. For many years we have lobbied for the Princes Highway to be a road of national importance [RONI]. We have never heard anything about that from the Opposition. Now the AusLink agreement is a new way of shafting the people of the Illawarra and the South Coast. It is about time the Federal Government does the right thing by everyone who lives on the South Coast.

    Mr MATT BROWN (Kiama—Parliamentary Secretary) [4.45 p.m.], in reply: I thank my parliamentary colleagues the honourable member for Wollongong and the honourable member for Illawarra for their spirited contributions to the debate, for their continued commitment to providing safer roads through better funding for everyone using the Princes Highway, especially working families, and for trying to open up the trade links that are necessary to generate jobs. The honourable member for South Coast raised nothing new in this debate. In fact, I pre-empted her argument and addressed it. She agreed that the New South Wales Government made a submission and mentioned the Princes Highway south of Wollongong. I thank her for that. The contribution of the honourable member for Bega was quite different. He mentioned deaths and the importance of road funding in lowering the road toll. No normal human being would disagree with that.

    Mrs Shelley Hancock: Why don't you give us some more State money? Why don't you lobby the Minister?

    Mr MATT BROWN: The honourable member for South Coast interjects again, "We just want more money". There is such a thing as a budget, which is designed to ensure that the State does not go bust. The typical Liberal Party policy in this House is to promise to spend as much as it can possibly lay its hands on and to reduce taxes at the same time. That policy does not add up; it will send the State bust. No cars will be driving anywhere because no-one will be able to afford them if the mob opposite run the economy in the way they are suggesting. The honourable member for Bega went further and, amazingly, started to attack the public servants in the RTA. This is another typical tactic of the Liberal Party: when everything goes wrong, attack the public service—hardworking men and women going to work every day to try to make a better deal.

    Mr Andrew Constance: I have attacked the RTA.

    Mr MATT BROWN: The honourable member for Bega says it again.

    Mr Andrew Constance: Point of order: I want it noted that I am happy any day to attack the RTA and its incompetence in relation to the Princes Highway.

    Madam ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Marie Andrews): Order! There is no point of order. I remind the members of the Opposition that if they want to take points of order they should do so in accordance with the standing orders.

    Mr MATT BROWN: The lack of parliamentary experience of the honourable member for Bega is breathtaking. He should know the standing orders. That was not a point of order; he should respect the rules of the Chamber. I was making the point well enough for him and if he wants to agree with that, that is all well and good. I only ever advocate the truth. Apart from our written submissions and discussions at numerous meetings, the Minister for Roads raised the Princes Highway with the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, only six weeks ago. At that meeting in Sydney Minister Tripodi looked Minister Truss in the eye and asked him to include the Princes Highway in the new national network. Guess what? Minister Truss again refused. He certainly did not claim that the New South Wales Government had neglected to pursue this matter properly in the past. It is simply not good enough for the Federal Government to try to wash its hands of this sorry matter. The simple fact is that we pushed for the Princes Highway in New South Wales to be included in the AusLink agreement but the Federal Government refused.

    [Quorum formed.]

    [Time expired.]

    Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.

    The House divided.

    Ayes, 54
    Ms Allan
    Mr Amery
    Ms Andrews
    Mr Barr
    Mr Bartlett
    Ms Beamer
    Mr Black
    Mr Brown
    Ms Burney
    Miss Burton
    Mr Campbell
    Mr Chaytor
    Mr Collier
    Mr Corrigan
    Mr Crittenden
    Mr Daley
    Ms D'Amore
    Mr Debus
    Mr Draper
    Mrs Fardell
    Ms Gadiel
    Mr Gaudry
    Mr Gibson
    Mr Greene
    Ms Hay
    Mr Hunter
    Ms Judge
    Ms Keneally
    Mr Lynch
    Mr McBride
    Mr McLeay
    Ms Meagher
    Mr Mills
    Ms Moore
    Mr Morris
    Mr Newell
    Ms Nori
    Mr Oakeshott
    Mr Orkopoulos
    Mrs Paluzzano
    Mr Pearce
    Mrs Perry
    Ms Saliba
    Mr Sartor
    Mr Shearan
    Mr Stewart
    Ms Tebbutt
    Mr Torbay
    Mr Tripodi
    Mr West
    Mr Whan
    Mr Yeadon


    Tellers,
    Mr Ashton
    Mr Martin
    Noes, 27
Mr Aplin
Ms Berejiklian
Mr Cansdell
Mr Constance
Mr Fraser
Mrs Hancock
Mr Hartcher
Ms Hodgkinson
Mrs Hopwood
Mr Humpherson
Mr Kerr
Mr Merton
Mr Page
Mr Piccoli
Mr Pringle
Mr Richardson
Mr Roberts
Ms Seaton
Mrs Skinner
Mr Slack-Smith
Mr Souris
Mr Stoner
Mr Tink
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner

Tellers,
Mr George
Mr Maguire
Pairs
Ms Megarrity
Mr Armstrong
Mr PriceMr Hazzard

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.