Why the PM won’t like this national tour

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the federal government will build the new airport in western Sydney.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten, Opposition Transport spokesman Anthony Albanese and Macarthur MP Mike Freelander make an announcement about Badgerys Creek airport.


ANALYSIS

It’s Albo’s ambush and the senior Labor front bencher is meticulously putting it together in the lead up to the Budget next Tuesday.

He hopes to snare Mal-the-Builder, the figure we have been encouraged to anticipate will emerge from the May 9 economic statement.

Labor wants to upset the Budget strategy of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by hacking at the supports for its expected central platform — the push for more infrastructure spending.

Mr Turnbull has urged us to look for a capital works blitz which could keep him cutting ribbons and unveiling commemorative plaques for years ahead.

“The focus of the budget is driving continued strong economic growth … that includes infrastructure and energy,” Mr Turnbull has said.

His problem is that he can’t be Mal-the-Builder to all people in all places, and opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese is well aware of this.

There is only so much money available to bring on long-wanted projects, and some will have to be delayed or discarded completely.

Mr Albanese has been travelling widely to remind people how important their local projects are. And he will be ready next Wednesday to rub in their disappointment should that project miss out.

It is as if he has printed out Infrastructure Australia’s list of priorities and planned visits to many of them — the bigger and more politically charged the better.

Today he was in Brisbane where the capital works centrepiece is the proposed cross-river rail link.

Albo is seeing the sights.

Albo is seeing the sights.Source:News Corp Australia

Mal the Builder.

Mal the Builder.Source:AAP

“Since he ousted Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister more than 18 months ago, the Prime Minister has sought to portray himself as a public transport enthusiast by staging frequent media stunts aboard trains, trams and buses,” he said in a statement.

“Tuesday’s Budget is his chance to not just take selfies aboard trains, but to actually invest in Cross River Rail to alleviate the traffic congestion that threatens continued economic growth in Queensland.

“The existing Merivale Bridge across the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD is approaching full capacity.”

On Tuesday, May 2, he questioned the Government’s commitment to bricks and mortar investment: “Nation building requires a pipeline of infrastructure projects. It requires a government to have a forward vision plan, not to be picking off project by project.”

On May 1 it was Adelaide where he said infrastructure investment was a key to economic growth and jobs.

“And there’s no better project in South Australia to back in next week’s Budget, than the AdeLINK light rail project,” he said.

On April 28 Mr Albanese was in Perth talking about the local freight link road proposal, tossing in Melbourne’s East-West project to help make his point.

“You had a 20 per cent decline in public sector infrastructure investment in (the Government’s) first two years,” he said.

“For every single quarter that they’ve been in government, public sector infrastructure investment, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics investment (figures), has been lower than all 21 quarters when Labor was in office after our first Budget.”

The difficulty for Labor is that by highlighting these projects it is effectively pledging to fund them should it gain office. That would complicate any Labor Budget which would be as short of revenue as the Coalition’s is at present.

However, the immediate objective is to disrupt the Turnbull Budget strategy, and Mr Albanese will be working diligently for that.

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