After just 13 questions over 15 minutes in his press conference, Wayne Swan handed over to Anthony Albanese, thereby triggering a mass exodus from the press conference.

After about 10 minutes of Albo doing his best Rex Connor impersonation, Gough Whitlam’s former press secretary Kerry O’Brien interrupted to declare that he would have to leave, so, could the big spending Lefty explain how a $400 billion infrastructure wish list could be fulfilled by a $20 billion fund that would only become available in 2009-10?

Albo used the phrase “urgent but considered” and simply re-affirmed the enormity of this coming infrastructure bonanza and Labor’s role as the party of nation building. In terms of the funding, Labor will use a combination of private sector spending, public private partnerships and straight federal spending, especially on projects in some cities to tackle urban congestion.

He also stressed that the budget had brought forward a number of infrastructure spending programs such as studies on the Ipswich Motorway, the M5 East duplication in Sydney and the Western Metro rail project in Sydney.

The number continued to dwindle as Albo droned on, so I threw a question at him with just seven journalists in the room about the reasons for abandoning full funding of the Future Fund in preference of all these other funds. After all, Kevin Rudd believed in fully funded super when he ran Queensland.

Albo simply denied this, when the Future Fund does currently remain more than $50 billion short of its needs as all these other funds are unveiled.

When a journalist asked about rail services in Albury at 5.32pm, it really was time to scarper. The whole Albo exercise was clearly designed to provide Swan with a quick exit from his press conference whilst emphasising that this is an infrastructure budget. We’ll see if it has worked in the morning papers.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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