Shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese has fired a warning shot at new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, saying he’ll receive the same treatment as ousted Liberal leader Tony Abbott if he doesn’t change the Government’s stance on public transport funding.
In his acceptance speech following the 2013 election, Abbott told Australia he hoped to be “an infrastructure prime minister who puts bulldozers on the ground and cranes into our skies”.
Albanese, speaking in an interview on Sunday with Sky News, told host Peter Van Onselsen he was “very proud of the fact” that he was “effective at holding [Abbott] to account”.
“Tony Abbott’s performance was staggeringly bad,” the deputy leader of the Opposition told the program.
“Who talks now in the eulogies to Tony Abbott’s prime ministership about him being an infrastructure prime minister?
“You know, there wasn’t a hole dug barely during his prime ministership … There was a complete failure when it came to infrastructure.”
Turnbull, who replaced Abbott on September 14, should bring a new approach, Albanese said, telling the program the new prime minister has a different view on public transport “on a personal level,” to the ousted Abbott.
But he had some suggestions for the new prime minister if he is to truly embrace public transport as part of his policy going forward.
He said the new minister for cities and the built environment Jamie Briggs needs to be working with infrastructure and regional development minister Warren Truss, rather than environment minister Greg Hunt, as is the plan.
“If you’re going deal with the challenges of our cities you’ve got to deal with infrastructure and transport,” Albanese said.
“To quote Tom Cruise in that movie, ‘Follow the money’.
“You can’t have a junior minister who’s not in the Cabinet, responsible for cities, when all the money for infrastructure and transport is still controlled by the National Party in the Cabinet in the form of Warren Truss.
“They have said they’ve had a three-person committee, Paul Fletcher, Greg Hunt and Jamie Briggs, but essentially without Warren Truss, without infrastructure and transport being engaged, you really are dealing at the fringes.”
The shadow minister finished with an AFL analogy.
“It’s like the Eagles and the Hawks next week, prior to the Grand Final worrying about who the runners are going to be, who’s dealing with the oranges at half-time and not worrying about the players,” he said.
“The main game of what’s going on, on the field of our cities, is infrastructure and transport.”