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Transcript of doorstop interview: Adelaide: 23 August 2013: discusses Federal Labor's record investment in South Australian infrastructure; Federal Labor's historic investment in public transport; Tony Abbott's $8 billion cut to infrastructure spending; Tony Abbott's unfair, unaffordable paid parental leave scheme; Tony Abbott's South Road "cruel hoax"; The Real Choice at this election; Steve Georganas; and Refugee policy.

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Campaign Transcript


E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Federal Labor’s record investment in South Australian infrastructure; Federal Labor’s historic investment in public transport; Tony Abbott’s $8 billion cut to infrastructure spending; Tony Abbott’s unfair, unaffordable paid parental leave scheme; Tony Abbott’s South Road “cruel hoax”; The Real Choice at this election; Steve Georganas; Refugee policy. _____________________________________________________________

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here in Adelaide once again with my South Australian ministerial colleague Tom Koutsantonis for yet another nation building announcement of cooperation between the Federal Labor Government and the South Australian Labor Government.

I’m joined by Steve Georganas, by Amanda Rishworth and by Annabel Digance and I’m also joined by some state colleagues who are here as well.

Look this is an exciting project. We’re bringing forward $63 million jointly funded between the Commonwealth and the State to make sure that this work behind us can continue to duplicate the Tonsley Rail Line and to make sure that it’s brought forward.

A lot of work has been done on rail in South Australia, and notable amongst that of course is the Noarlunga to Seaford line and the upgrade of the rail revitalisation in Adelaide’s south.

What this project and bringing it forward will do is enable the 250 South Australians who rely upon this construction activity for their jobs and to feed their families will be able to transition through to this task.

This will mean a more efficient public transport system here in South Australia. The Federal Labor Government believes in investment in public transport. It’s one of the great divisions at this election on 7 September.

A Federal Labor Government that has invested more in urban public transport since 2007 than all previous governments combined from Federation right up to 2007. And Tony Abbott who says basically that’s none of Federal Government’s business; we don’t invest in urban public transport, we’ll just invest in some roads.

But of course we know that there are no commitments to road funding either here in South Australia. There’s a thought bubble and a suggestion that maybe if Infrastructure Australia and maybe if the South Australian Government and maybe if other things are put through, then there will be support for a road project here in South Australia. But no commitments.

That stands in stark contrast to what we’ve done on projects like the Northern Expressway. Projects like South Road Superway that will be finished later this year. Real money for real projects that have created real jobs and made a real difference here in South Australia.

And of course our commitment to the South Road extension is logical because it also creates efficiencies. As the work concludes on the Superway later this year, work will commence on the next stage of construction here on South Road. South Australia - or Adelaide - certainly their most important road.

Today it has been revealed in the Australian Financial Review that there is some $8 billion of cuts planned for infrastructure if Tony Abbott is elected Prime Minister. That’s in transport infrastructure alone.

No commitment to the South Road project; some $448 million. No commitment to this project. No commitment to the APY Lands project as well. APY Lands, might not be a lot of votes in it, but pretty important for the people who live there, those Indigenous communities. Pretty important for industry as well in the region for that and we’ve got $85 million on the table in the budget as part of our Nation Building Program.

So I want between now and 7 September is for Tony Abbott to come absolutely clean about where all these cuts will be made. We know his priority is a paid parental leave scheme that will deliver $75,000 to a few people whilst taking money off everyone; everyone who is a reliant upon retired incomes, everyone who contributes to superannuation because that will be reduced.

Today we note that charities will also be hit because of the changes that Tony Abbott will make through his expensive, unaffordable and elite paid parental leave scheme. No wonder most of his own team don’t support this particular proposal and this indulgence of Tony Abbott.

But the paid parental leave scheme also gives us an insight. It gives us an insight into why Tony Abbott is so desperate to keep his plans secret prior to 7 September; because the one proposal that he has got out there with a bit of policy is a disaster. The other one that he’s got out there, his wrecking of the National Broadband Network, is also a disaster that will create a digital divide here in Adelaide.

So it’s no wonder that he won’t come clean with his costings and he’s trying to coast through and only release any details and any costing after the advertising ban kicks in - so that people won’t know about what his plans are.

Stands in stark contrast to what we’re doing. Here today, this project is fully funded, fully negotiated, fully detailed between the Federal Government and the South Australian Government and I’m very proud to be back here again with South Australia. The South Australian Government that has done more for infrastructure development over the last years than was done for decades prior and I congratulate Tom and his team for that.

TOM KOUTSANTONIS: Thank you Deputy Prime Minister. Look what the Deputy Prime Minister has revealed today represents a clear and present risk to the people of South Australia.

The Tonsley project is a vital piece of infrastructure. It’s vital to the residents in the western suburbs. It’s vital for a non-stop north south corridor.

That being delayed or not funded or not put in the budget under an Abbott Government would be a disaster for South Australia. Everyone intuitively knows that’s the most important piece of infrastructure to do next.

The APY Lands Road isn’t just about regional communities, although it’s very, very important. It’s also about economic development. Up in the Musgrove Ranges I saw the most important unexplored areas of mineral wealth in Australia, not just South Australia.

It’s about growing our economy, about giving those communities opportunity to have work, and opportunity to get education and services into the APY Lands.

I’ve got to say, ripping the money out of the APY Lands road shows that Mr Abbott and the Coalition have no heart and sometimes no brains.

This project here today, the 250 jobs that are on here today wouldn’t be here if Mr Abbott was Prime Minister today. We’ve brought forward out of the $63 million project $18 million to keep 250 South Australians working. That’s an important piece of infrastructure.

The men and women who are here today operating the trucks, doing the digging, doing the rail revitalisation program would not be on job today if there was a Coalition Government.

We’re building infrastructure and the only way we can build this infrastructure is to partner with our friends in the Commonwealth Government. Public transport is vital to infrastructure. You can’t just sweep it aside and say it’s not our responsibility.

Today I’ve released a minute from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure which shows that the Coalition promise of Darlington is a cruel hoax on the people of the southern suburbs. It’s not funded properly.

You can’t do it without dealing with public transport. It’s going to cost $1.8 billion to do, not $750 million. It’s never going to get done under an Abbott Government because it’s a cruel joke. They haven’t got enough money in the system to do it. You can’t do it unless you deal with public transport.

So I’ve got to say, without partners who are prepared to actually step in and do the right thing and invest in public transport, you can’t build roads and you can’t build infrastructure without dealing with trains and buses.

JOURNALIST: Minister, the minute that you’ve released today recommends a further study of transport issues for Darlington of $5 million. A, do you think the people down here are getting sick and tired of these studies being delayed and who is going to pay the $5 million?

KOUTSANTONIS: Look if there’s a re-elected Government that commits to investing in public transport like the Rudd Government, we’ll spend the $5 million on the transport study.

JOURNALIST: That’s a promise is it?

KOUTSANTONIS: Absolutely. But I tell you what we won’t do. We’re not going to spend money on a transport study if an incoming Prime Minister rules out ever spending any commonwealth money on public transport.

You can’t do the Darlington without taking care of public transport. It’s a cruel joke on the people of the southern suburbs.

Mr Southcott and Mr Abbott are perpetrating a big lie on the people of the south. You cannot do the Darlington without dealing with public transport.

What the minute shows, if you attempted to do it without dealing with public transport, all you’re doing is pushing congestion to Edwardstown, further down South Road, putting a bottle neck outside Castle Plaza. It won’t work, it’s a cruel joke.

JOURNALIST: So with the chest thumping today of money being spent, what about the northern suburbs? We see a line there that was meant to be electrified and that’s an embarrassment for the Government.

KOUTSANTONIS: What we’ve done is we’ve brought that back on. We’re going to Dry Creek -

JOURNALIST: That’s only to get trains to Dry Creek to service them, what about passengers?

KOUTSANTONIS: I announced at estimates, which you all covered, that I had a study in place to announce very, very soon that we could have passenger services to Dry Creek.

JOURNALIST: Two more studies, when are we expected to see it?

KOUTSANTONIS: The study will be released very, very soon. When it is concluded I will release it publically.

JOURNALIST: So when would you anticipate -

KOUTSANTONIS: Very, very soon.

JOURNALIST: No, but when would you anticipate the line operating?

KOUTSANTONIS: Look the line operating obviously will be taking into account building a sub-station, getting the poles and wires up. We’re preparing for that, we’ve rolled it out to Dry Creek along with the Deputy Prime Minister investing in it the electrification program.

It’s back on track. We’d like to get as close to Gawler as we possibly can. Obviously when finances repair themselves we will go further.

JOURNALIST: When will that be though? The Premier said until there is money in the kitty, and there is none.

KOUTSANTONIS: What we have said is we want to increase passenger services to Dry Creek. We’re holding a study to make sure we can do that. To make sure that tabling and the stations can handle it. Therefore I’m very excited about it.

JOURNALIST: Would you see Minister Albanese, I’m not even sure - it’s a question without notice - if you would even know where Dry Creek or Gawler is?

ALBANESE: I certainly do. And I know it because I’ve been to South Australia so many times.

I’ve been to Gawler where we’ve done community infrastructure projects. I’ve been to Gawler with my good friend Nick who is a strong advocate for the northern suburbs. And I’ve been to the northern suburbs at the construction beginning, the construction milestones and the opening of the Northern Expressway.

If you have a look at what our Government has done, have a look at what our Government has done. We have tripled infrastructure investment here in South Australia per head. Tripled, compared with what it was under the former Howard Government.

We’ve invested not just in roads, but also in rail. And with regard to Gawler we’re back on track, we’ve negotiated those issues through, and work is now back on track in order to achieve the objective.

JOURNALIST: But Minister, you say you want to see where cuts will be made by the Coalition, when are we going to see your costings?

ALBANESE: You’ve seen them all. It’s called an Economic Statement. It’s out there completely, such as this program here.

All of our infrastructure spending, every single bit of it, in the budget and then adjusted in the Economic Statement. With hard decisions being made; hard decisions being made you might recall.

Ones in which the Opposition criticised all of them, but they will probably end up taking some of them. But we don’t know over things such as the increase in tobacco excise.

So we’ve made our decisions. What they’re doing is trying to hide from those decisions. The Economic Statement, as a result of the hit to revenues that has occurred, we didn’t pretend that didn’t exist, done prior to the election being called.

That’s because we’re fair dinkum. We’re fair dinkum about the commitments that we’ve made. There are no uncosted thoughts in any of our proposals. They are all there for people to see with budget line items for the proposals through the Nation Building Program.

More to do in the future, no doubt, but the costings are all there.

JOURNALIST: Polling shows that you could lose five in western Sydney, why is it going so badly for you?

ALBANESE: We’re out there putting our case for building for the future as opposed to their plan for cuts, more cuts and then more cuts after that that they won’t tell you about.

In the last two weeks of a campaign in when people focus. And in the last two weeks of the campaign, people will know that they have a real choice.

If they want the Better Schools plan, with $10 billion allocated rather than $2.8 billion, they have got to vote Labor.

If they want a Federal Government that is committed to urban public transport funding, they have got to vote Labor.

If they want a National Broadband Network that gives fibre to the home and fibre to the small business, they have got to vote Labor.

If they want South Road fixed up, they have got to vote Labor.

All of these issues out there very clearly; the stark contrast between a Government building for the future, positive about Australia’s opportunity in the Asian Century. Prepared to compete with the world and engage with the world. And Tony Abbott frightened of his own policies.

The only one out there, paid parental leave, is a shocker of a policy, one I think that will be rejected. And they’ll think this, for all those families, 1.3 million of them who get the SchoolKids Bonus - worth to them if they are an average family with two kids - worth $15,000. In their pockets, ripped out by Tony Abbott so that he can give some millionaires $75,000.

I mean, this does not make sense. They are the contrast that are there and over the next two weeks each and every day - in Perth yesterday and Adelaide here this morning and Melbourne this afternoon - I’ll be out advancing what this election is about. And I’m confident that the Australian people will vote for a positive and confident future for this country that engages in nation building.

JOURNALIST: Would you agree that Mr Georganas is in desperate trouble here in Hindmarsh, to be lucky to hang on to the seat?

ALBANESE: Not at all. I launched his campaign two weeks ago.

JOURNALIST: The polls suggest anything but that.

ALBANESE: Steve Georganas is a fantastic local member.

JOURNALIST: He might be, but the polls don’t indicate that.

ALBANESE: He is a fantastic local member. Well I’ve got news for you, the poll is on 7 September. And when people go into that polling booth, what they will know is they can vote for a hard-working, committed advocate for their local communities or they can vote to get rid of the SchoolKids Bonus, to get rid of the National Broadband Network, to get rid of public transport funding, to not worry about South Road upgrade.

They will be the choices before people and all those people who want $75,000 in terms of paid parental leave scheme - they want the gold-plated scheme - they might vote for Mr Georganas’ opponent. But guess what? They are the very few, not the many.

Labor stands for the many, not the few. Steve Georganas has always stood up for the many, not the few.

He is a serial pest, and as a Minister having Steve Georganas not lobbying for every project and every issue in his seat would mean a quieter time! But Steve Georganas deserves to be re-elected. I am very confident that his electorate - I know because I’ve been to his seat nearly a dozen times since 2007 - they will vote for him on 7 September. I have no doubt about that.

JOURNALIST: What would your constituents make of Australia being told by the UN to release asylum seekers held in detention and pay them compensation?

ALBANESE: We have I think got the policy framework right when it comes to dealing with the issue of asylum seekers. These are complex issues.

We’ve got it right and guess what, it’s working. Most Australians think that’s a good thing. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison get disappointed every day that goes past when there is not an issue of a boat.

So we have got the balance right between ensuring, by increasing the number of asylum seekers that Australia will take; up to 20,000 and we’ve said we would consider increasing that further up to 27,000.

Our opponents want to cut it back down to 13,000.

JOURNALIST: Why will it take six months for Australia to respond to the UN?

ALBANESE: In terms of responses, that’s a matter for the appropriate ministers.

We are in caretaker mode at the moment, you might have noticed.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask Annabel Digance a question. Are you hoping that Julia Gillard will help you on the campaign trail in the last two weeks?

ANNABEL DIGANCE: Our Prime Minister is Kevin Rudd and Kevin Rudd is the leader that I will work with.

JOURNALIST: So would you like Julia Gillard’s help on the campaign trail?

DIGANCE: I respect that Julia Gillard has stood aside and she is not working this campaign.

JOURNALIST: So she won’t be joining you?

DIGANCE: Not to my knowledge.


Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600