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Transcript of doorstop interview: Melbourne: September 04, 2012: The Coalition's $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne's East West Link; education; Newspoll

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Joint Doorstop Interview, Melbourne September 04, 2012

Subjects: The Coalition’s $1.5 billion commitment to Melbourne’s East West Link; education; Newspoll.



Thanks for coming along. In particular, I welcome to the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Tony Abbott, to Victoria. As you would be aware, Tony has given a commitment to the East West Link of $1.5 billion with $500 million of that to be released within the

first 18 months of an Abbott federal government. That would enable the Victorian Government to proceed with the project. We could carry on with the statutory planning processes, we could start compulsory land acquisitions and we could do some of the

initial infrastructure works that are vital to this project.

The federal government, the Gillard Government just don’t get it. We put up a submission to Infrastructure Australia for $40 million to help us proceed with the business case and also with some of the statutory planning and we got knocked back by the Gillard

Government. To give you an understanding of what this road means to Melbourne, we’ve got somewhere in the order at the moment of about 160,000 vehicles going across the Westgate Bridge. Within 20 years it is predicted that that number would climb

to about 235,000 vehicles. That is not sustainable and can’t be achieved.

This project is not about if, it’s about when. Melbourne needs this project. Victoria needs this project. It’s not just a road safety issue, it’s about our productivity and it’s about the reputation of Melbourne going forward. We can’t do this alone as a state - we

know that - and we do need a federal government that’s going to work with us and we really are tremendously grateful for the offer from Tony to support the Victorian Government and get this project up and running.

You only have to look over my shoulder to see what happens here of a morning. This is getting close to lunch time; at mid-morning, this is a car park and we can’t continue with that. This project has to proceed. We are committed to it. The Federal Opposition are committed to it and we want this project to go ahead.

I’ll hand over to Ken Mathers who is the CEO of the Linking Melbourne Authority. They’re currently carrying out a lot of work

supporting the Department of Transport in the development of the business case and also looking at the route planning and doing some of the geo-tech work.

KEN MATHERS (CEO of Linking Melbourne Authority):

Thanks very much, Minister. Yes, we’re preparing the business case and assisting the Department of Transport with that. We’ve

already undertaken a lot of drilling along the alignment of Alexandra Parade to determine what the underground conditions are because that information is vital because building tunnels in Melbourne is a pretty difficult exercise. So, we’ve got to go through all

that work. We’ve got to try and refine the project to the extent that we can, in order to drive down the costs, and we’re doing that in conjunction with the Department. I think things are going pretty well. We expect to have the business case in the Minister’s office

before the end of this year and if we achieve that, it will be a great outcome for the Linking Melbourne Authority and our Department.


Terry, it’s terrific to be here on Hoddle Street at the site of what is one of the most important transport infrastructure projects in our

nation. The East West Link is critical to the future of Melbourne. Melbourne is an economic powerhouse. It needs the infrastructure of the 21st century and that’s what an incoming Coalition government in Canberra is determined to achieve. We will

make available $1.5 billion dollars to the Victorian Government to ensure that within 12 to 18 months of a Coalition government taking office in Canberra, this project is well and truly underway. It is absolutely necessary to the future development of

Melbourne, Victoria and Australia that this project goes ahead and it will go ahead under a Coalition government.

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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This is all part of the Coalition’s positive plan for a better Australia. Under a Coalition government, there will be lower taxes, better

services, stronger borders and modern infrastructure. We can and we will deliver. What you won’t get from a Coalition government is the kind of “promise now, pay later” performance we are currently getting from Julia Gillard. What we are seeing now from the

Gillard Government is announcement after announcement with one eye on the polls and the other eye on Kevin Rudd. Well, the Australian people can see through this. They know that with respect to the Gonski announcement yesterday there are just three

problems. First, you can’t trust this Prime Minister. Second, she hasn’t got the money. Third, she has got form when it comes to hit lists for schools. So, that’s why the Australian people are deeply sceptical when they see this kind of flurry of activity from the

Prime Minister.

Today, the Prime Minister is at a mining conference in Perth. There’s really only one question for the Prime Minister in Perth. Why is she making it harder to invest in this country with her mining tax and her carbon tax? We need investment in this country but

investment is being jeopardised because of the policies of this government.


Do you think that Julia Gillard’s looking to have a dust-up with the states over the Gonski review?


I think this is a Prime Minister who is more interested in striking a pose than she is in delivering for the parents and the students of Australia. I mean, kids that are going into high school today will be well and truly at university before the vague and speculative

proposal is ever to come to pass. Even on what the Prime Minister discussed yesterday, there’s no concrete funding, there’s no specific timetable, there’s no detail. Frankly, yesterday was not an announcement worthy of a Prime Minister. The idea that

someone like John Howard, for instance, would go to the National Press Club with something so vague and insubstantial, it would have been totally out of character.


Just on education funding, would a Coalition government support raising the rate of the GST to pay for education [inaudible]?


No. We don’t support that.


Does the Coalition support Ms Gillard’s plan to get Australia in to the top five education systems in the world?


We want Australia’s education system to be the best in the world and the problem is that we’ve had no performance from this

Government. I mean, the Prime Minister said last night on television “judge me on my record.” What have we got? We’ve got record deficits, we’ve got record waste, we’ve got record boats, we’ve got a record of complete incompetence and

untrustworthiness from this Government.


Are you concerned that you still trail Julia Gillard as preferred Prime Minister?


Look, I’m looking at the field evidence and the field evidence is that this is an incompetent and untrustworthy Government led by an incompetent and untrustworthy Prime Minister who is all promise and no performance; she is all boast and no delivery.


How would you get the Australian school system into the top five, if you’re not prepared to up the GST or something?


There will be increases in funding under the existing funding arrangements. We also want to see better teaching methodology. We

want to see better teachers. We want to see improved school governance and we believe that this can make an enormous

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difference to the quality of teaching and the quality of education in our schools.


Are you concerned that your own personal approval rating went down in the Newspoll that was published in The Australian newspaper this morning?


I’m concerned every day to point out the failures of a bad government getting worse and to articulate a positive vision for our

country and that’s why I’m here today being briefed by Minister Terry Mulder and his officials, because what an incoming Coalition government wants to do is to give the people of Victoria the modern infrastructure that they deserve as part of our overall plan for

a better Australia that involves lower taxes, better services, stronger borders and, very importantly today, modern infrastructure.


Why did you put money towards the East-West road tunnel over Metrolink?


Look, this is the number one priority. We spoke to Infrastructure Australia. We’ve spoken to the Victorian Government. This is the number one major project that Victoria needs right now.


Just back to education, so what do you think of the Victorian Government’s plan to pay teachers according to performance



I think it’s very important to pay teachers properly. We went into the last election promising bonuses for the best teachers. I think it is important that we get the best possible teachers and I will be very happy to work with state governments to try to ensure that we

get the best possible teachers, the best possible teaching methodology and the best possible systems of school governance, because it’s very important that we get more money into schools, but it’s got to be money that the governments of Australia can

afford and it’s also important that we’ve got the right standards and the right values in our school systems as well.

Thank you.


© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

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