Labor takes hammer to infrastructure spend

Matt Coughlan
Anthony Albanese says the budget is a con job with commitments on the Never Never

Senior Labor figure Anthony Albanese says the federal budget's building blitz is a con job with most of the spending promises on the Never Never.

The opposition's infrastructure spokesman used a speech to Infrastructure Partnerships Australia on Tuesday to outline his analysis of the budget, which he says is a triumph of spin over substance.

Of the $19.3 billion in new infrastructure funding, Mr Albanese said just one per cent would be spent in 2018-19, with about 20 per cent slated for investment over the next four years.

"The budget is a con job," he said.

"It is commitments on the Never Never."

"Four-out-of-every-five dollars allocated to infrastructure projects last week won't be invested for at least four years."

Road and rail funding is noted in the budget papers as a $75 billion, 10-year "rolling infrastructure plan".

Mr Alabanese accused the government of lacking the ability to translate promises into bulldozers on worksites.

"In each of its first four budgets, the coalition has not delivered the full amount of funding it announced," he said.

"Indeed, over these four budgets, the difference between what the government allocated and the amount actually delivered is $4.7 billion."

Mr Albanese took aim at the the federal government's $5 billion kitty for northern Australian building projects, after Treasurer Scott Morrison admitted the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility had been a disappointment.

Only one project has been approved, 17 are going through a due diligence process and 90 are being considered across Western Australia, since the fund was launched in 2016.

Mr Morrison was in Townsville on Tuesday to spruik an eastern rail corridor infrastructure project.

Asked if the NAIF had been a failure because it hadn't spent money in Queensland so far, Mr Morrison responded, "It's been disappointing to date."

"That's why we changed the rules. That's why we freed it up," he told reporters.

The overhaul includes removing the cap on 50 per cent on the amount of debt the Commonwealth can take on.