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Transcript of doorstop interview: Perth: 22 August 2013: Labor's investment in Perth's public transport; Perth Gateway project; Perth City Link; Second Leaders' Debate; Community infrastructure



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TRANSCRIPT OF DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE DOORSTOP PERTH 22 AUGUST 2013

E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Labor’s investment in Perth’s public transport; Perth Gateway project; Perth City Link; Second Leaders’ Debate; Community infrastructure. _____________________________________________________________

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today we have a number of comments to make about Perth’s future in terms of ensuring that we keep infrastructure up to date here in Perth. And what’s at stake at the election on 7 September.

Firstly in the Economic Statement we brought forward funding of $113 million from the out years into the current financial year for the Gateway Project. This is a project that is the largest ever infrastructure project in Perth’s history. $686 million is the Commonwealth contribution for this project. It’s supporting jobs in construction now, but will make an enormous difference to dealing with traffic congestion around the airport precinct.

But you need more than just delivery of roads. What we know is you also need to deal in a modern city such as Perth, with public transport. And it is only Labor that is committed to delivering public transport here in Perth.

This consists of two projects. One, the Airport Rail Line, which will result in new stations in the electorate of Hasluck and new facilities which will benefit the whole of Perth.

We put, in our last budget, $500 million. In addition to that we have brought forward $3 million from the Federal Government and from the Western Australian Government to make sure that planning can be done on this project.

This follows the $4 million that we contributed for planning on light rail here in Perth as well.

If congestion isn’t dealt with in Perth, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics suggests that there will be a cost to economy of some $2 billion.

And yet Tony Abbott remains stubbornly opposed to funding any public transport infrastructure anywhere in Australia. Indeed when he made that announcement he

said the Federal Government doesn’t do public transport except for one project that is going ahead in Queensland.

He seemed blissfully ignorant of the Perth City Link project, which I was very proud to be with Alannah at the opening when we went through the Fremantle tunnel just weeks ago.

That project, an exciting urban renewal project for Perth, is one of the differences between Federal Labor and our opponents. So I say this; if you want major infrastructure projects, then you have got to vote Labor on 7 September.

It isn’t just the funding of what we’re doing in terms of the future, it’s also our record. The Great Eastern Highway widening, for example. For everyone that’s their first experience when they leave this airport. A project promised, funded, built and opened on the Federal Labor Government’s watch.

We also had projects in regional Western Australia, the upgrades to the Great Northern Highway, the North West Coastal Highway, the upgrades that we’re doing around Port Hedland, all of which have been ignored by the Federal Coalition during this campaign.

They come here and the sole ideas that they had were two projects that we’re already funding, that the funding is already on the table for. Nothing new, just ripping out $500 million for public transport.

And the WA Premier has said very clearly and explicitly: without federal funding these projects won’t go ahead. So if you want public transport, you have got to vote Labor. If you want major infrastructure projects, you have got to vote Labor.

If you want the National Broadband Network to continue to be rolled out, you vote Labor. And if you want a better school plan, know that here in Western Australia Colin Barnett has announced just this week 500 teachers’ aides being sacked. That’s devastating for those 500 people and their families who will lose their jobs. But it is even worse, even worse in the long term for what it will do to education here in WA.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why Colin Barnett didn’t accept Federal Labor’s offer under the Better Schools plan. He should get on board with national reform because it is important for Australia’s future.

So when it comes to building a better future for this country, it is only Labor on road infrastructure, on rail infrastructure, on the National Broadband Network, on supporting education that on each of these issues Federal Labor has put forward a plan that is about building Australia’s future.

ADRIAN EVANS: Everywhere I go people talk about the traffic snarls we have in our community and Anthony is quite right to say that infrastructure that we’ve built, that Federal Labor has built, has made a big difference in the community.

He’s right to say that the community expects rail. And he’s right to say that if you vote for Tony Abbott we won’t get that rail. So it’s very important that we do vote for Labor because it’s the Labor Party that delivers on infrastructure projects in this country.

ALANNAH MACTIERNAN: Mr Barnett has made it clear that the only way that we are going to see this vital rail link to the airport and beyond is if there is federal funding. And only Labor is prepared to commit that funding.

So our only chance of getting Mr Barnett to honour the election commitment to build this critical link to the airport and beyond is if we have the Rudd Labor Government returned.

It makes all of the difference.

JOURNALIST: What sort of federal funding can we expect from Labor for the train line through here?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve already put $500 million to show our commitment to funding public transport infrastructure in Western Australia.

Of course we contributed hundreds of millions of dollars for the Perth City Link project. So $500 million - of course we don’t know what the final costing is - on top of that we’ve put forward that funding that’s available this year, right now.

We have an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Barnett Government to spend $6 million - it’s $3 million from each level - to make sure that the study can be done and the planning done.

When we receive a detailed submission from the WA Government, we would sit down and negotiate out exactly what the funding arrangement would be.

But I think we’ve shown absolute good will by ensuring that $500 million is in the budget that we had in May. So not an election commitment, something that is consistent with our commitment since 2007.

We have committed more, invested more indeed, to urban public transport since 2007 than all previous governments combined for the 107 years since Federation prior to our election.

We understand that if you are going to deal with cities and growth and congestion, you need to invest in public transport.

JOURNALIST: The debate last night, what’s your assessment?

ALBANESE: Well I watched it having it taped it last night, so I watched it later than it was on live.

I thought it was a very interesting forum. I thought Kevin Rudd put forward very clearly his vision for building the nation’s future. Not just the issues that I’ve raised in terms of infrastructure, but also issues such as Disability Care and health.

Tony Abbott had an opportunity - we’re now into the second half of the campaign - he had an opportunity last night to actually outline what his plans are in terms of where the cuts will be; to education, to health, to infrastructure.

Now we know one of those cuts is a $500 million cut from public transport here in Western Australia. But we don’t know all of it.

I also thought it was rather extraordinary; his response on paid parental leave, and it was extraordinary for two reasons. One, finally he accepted that half of the money is going to come from somewhere else. From cuts. So he’s going to rip out money to those who most need it, 1.3 million families, which over the life of an average family of two kids means $15,000 ripped off them by abolishing the Schoolkids Bonus.

But some people will benefit to the tune of $75,000. It will also be paid for by every Australian who has superannuation. Not just retirees today who are self-funded, but retirees of tomorrow who are all of the workers in the workforce, so I thought that was extraordinary.

And wasn’t it extraordinary how touchy Mr Abbott got. We know why they keep him such a short rein and don’t like him doing interviews like Lateline or Q & A or any forum which isn’t carefully scripted with a short little grab and then heading off.

And I thought there were two moments, both in terms of during the interview but also his response to being interviewed after the debate, where he walked away from the interviewer who was from Sky News. And his response though was aggressive, was angry, and it reminded me of a leader we used to have, Mark Latham.

I thought his handshake during the first debate was his first Mark Latham moment, and last night we saw his second Mark Latham moment. I think his Mark Riley moment for Channel Seven where he looked like he wanted to biff Mark Riley. People are right to be worried about this bloke, about whether he is up to the job.

And on 7 September, think about this. Australia has a place around the UN Security Council. Australia has a place at the G20. Do you really think that this bloke is up to it - you might want him in your rugby team, in the front row, fair enough - but is this bloke up to representing our nation at the forums of the world with people like David Cameron, President Obama and Angela Merkel and other world leaders?

I just don’t think he’s up to it and he showed last night yet again why he isn’t up to it.

JOURNALIST: The make-up artist for the two leaders last night said that she had a bit of a run in with Mr Rudd, that she found him to be quite rude, obnoxious and that Mr Abbott was -

ALBANESE: No she didn’t say that, now you are verballing her.

JOURNALIST: Well in those terms, but -

ALBANESE: No she didn’t say that, didn’t say that at all. And Mr Rudd has clearly said that prior to the interview he was focused on the interview. He has explained that. He has apologised if there was any misinterpretation of what was a focus about the interview while he was in a make-up chair.

JOURNALIST: Is the old Kevin Rudd coming back?

ALBANESE: Kevin Rudd I think we saw last night in terms of someone who has a vision for the future. Someone who is prepared to engage in debate.

No wonder Tony Abbott has been trying to hide from debates. I hope someone here has sighted the National Party Leader and the alternative Deputy Prime Minister, to Warren Truss, I say to Warren, I’m available. I’ll go anywhere to have a debate.

I’ve been waiting six years to debate infrastructure. Now Tony Abbott says he wants to be an infrastructure prime minister. Yeah that’s right, except for public transport, except for clean energy infrastructure, except for a whole range of roads in regional Australia that he is not funding, except for ignoring the processes of Infrastructure Australia and except for shutting down the National Broadband Network; the largest infrastructure project that is in Australia’s history.

So I’m happy to debate Warren Truss. I’ve had a couple of debates already with Malcolm Turnbull but I say to Warren Truss who is the alternative Deputy Prime Minister and the alternative Infrastructure and Transport Minister; happy to have a debate with you sometime in the next couple of weeks. And I hope that he agrees to the urging that has occurred from the National Press Club and others.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott was here the other day meeting with Colin Barnett at the site of Perth’s new billion dollar stadium at Burswood and mentioned that he would be keen if he wins the election to put in some federal funding. What would federal Labor do -

ALBANESE: Yeah, how much did he commit?

JOURNALIST: He’s committed to it.

ALBANESE: He didn’t commit anything. He didn’t commit anything when he was here.

Have a look at our commitment to community infrastructure. We have the Regional Australia Development Fund; that’s $1 billion that was opposed by the Abbott Opposition.

When we had the economic stimulus plan we delivered $1.3 billion for 5,000 community infrastructure projects including many right here in Perth through every local government area. That was opposed by the Opposition.

We have a record of funding community infrastructure. When we receive submissions we would be more than pleased to give them proper scrutiny and give them proper consideration.

JOURNALIST: So you talk about what you have delivered. What are you going to deliver for Perth, Western Australia, if you win this election infrastructure-wise?

ALBANESE: What we are going to deliver is a rail line in partnership with the WA Government.

JOURNALIST: How much do you reckon you’ll put in?

ALBANESE: We’ve put in the budget $500 million. Half a billion is in the budget already.

What we do is we have proper submissions and processes. We don’t have a final costing yet. So it is not reasonable to expect that you would have a final funding commitment before the planning has been done and the submission’s done.

But that’s there as a sign of the commitment that we are prepared to make. We already have $686 million in WA Gateway. We have the Perth-Darwin project. We have Leach Highway. We have a range of other projects that we are rolling out here in Perth. And we would also sit down and discuss with the WA Government the support for further projects.

Can I say this; every single project that was put forward by the WA Government - they put forward recently the Muchea to Wubin upgrade, the next section of that. The sections in the North West Coastal Highway, the Perth to Darwin Highway, every major project that they put forward we have funded. Every single one.

So our record is certainly there, including funding the largest ever road project, which is the WA Gateway project, and support here for the rail projects. When they are finally submitted we will come up with a final negotiation with the WA Government.

JOURNALIST: How long is that $500 million (inaudible)

ALBANESE: That’s the across the Nation Building 2 program. The Nation Building 2 program begins in 2014, that’s next year. So this year we’ve brought forward additional money on top of that to get the planning work done. That’s the way you do good infrastructure development.

JOURNALIST: How long does it go for?

ALBANESE: We’ve put $500 million in the budget. What we will do is sit down in terms of the timeframe of the WA Government when they work it out, having been funded by us to the tune of $3 million from each level of government.

JOURNALIST: Just on the five asylum seekers that escaped from Norman detention centre. There has been a bit of confusion as to who has been searching for them and that type of stuff. What will happen next time?

ALBANESE: Look I’m not in a position to comment. I’ve just got off a plane here at the airport. So I’m not in a position to comment.

ENDS