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Transcript of doorstop interview: Kiama, [NSW]: 27 August 2013: Maldon Dombarton line;Gerringong community facility; Community infrastructure

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Campaign Transcript


E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: NBN; Maldon to Dombarton line; Gerringong community facility; Community infrastructure. _____________________________________________________________

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been fantastic to be here today in Kiama. This town is now a digital town; the first mainland town in Australia that is now fully hooked up to the National Broadband Network.

And today we’ve seen what it means for year five kids from Kiama Primary School being able to engage directly online with the National Museum in Canberra. Being able to participate and control the robot in the National Museum young Sarah was engaged, learning, without having to travel physically to Canberra; a great benefit.

We also have circumstances where Karen, who we met just inside, a librarian here who is connecting up through the NBN, through the Tele Health trial - someone who has diabetes and is able to upload her data in real time through the NBN and therefore have that ongoing monitoring benefit.

We’ve seen a take-up rate here in Kiama of 70 per cent. Those are extraordinary numbers; world record numbers of people who can connect to the NBN.

The NBN will transform the way that our education, our health, our aged care services are all delivered. They will create opportunities for business - particularly in regional Australia. And every home in Kiama will have the opportunity to hook up to high speed broadband, which is so important - not just for today but for the future.

If Mr Abbott gets his way, and he gave of course Mr Turnbull the task of wrecking the NBN, this rollout will stop in other places.

So towns such as Nowra will become a digital divide. Half with the NBN, half not having access to the NBN unless people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to connect up to it.

That will make a big difference in terms of house prices. Those with NBN benefiting, those without through an accident of history, missing out.

It will make a big difference for those who don’t own their own home. The price of connecting up to the NBN, having fibre essentially to a fridge to the corner of a street, and then old last century’s copper technology being delivered to the home is simply not good enough in 2013.

There was a debate more than 100 years ago that suggested that copper was then the world’s best technology. Now it’s not. The world has moved on, it’s a fibre world when it comes to information technology.

And we need to make sure with the NBN - we do it right, we do it once and we do it with fibre. That’s what every home and business here in Kiama now has the opportunity to do. That’s why every Australian home and business should get that opportunity as well.

JOURNALIST: Later on you are off to Port Kembla to make an announcement of a $50 million seed fund for the Maldon to Dombarton line. Could you talk us through what that is going to do?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we have already of course had the funding provided two years ago for the preconstruction activity. That work will be completed next year.

What we know is there is enormous opportunity for private investment to complete the Maldon to Dombarton line. This $50 million in seed funding we believe will ensure that this project can go ahead.

This is a project which began in the 1980s under the State Labor Government, was stopped when the Liberals came into Government in 1988.

We then - after strong lobbying from Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird, but also from industry and the labour movement in the Illawarra - got this project back on track again.

The next stage, once the preconstruction work is done, all the planning and approvals done, is to get this built finally. And this $50 million in seed funding will ensure that occurs. It will ensure jobs here in the Illawarra and will ensure that we can meet the freight task rather than have as well trucks on the road.

So a benefit for the economy, benefit for jobs, benefit for the environment, benefit for the whole of the Illawarra. But also for the national economy and I’ve had discussions with at least two consortiums who are engaged in these issues - the $50 million in seed funding will make sure that that can occur.

Tony Abbott of course has made it clear his position - he’s opposed to rail. He doesn’t really like rail. Doesn’t really like rail, doesn’t support urban public transport, never invested in anything fixing up the freight rail system. We’ve already built one third of the interstate rail freight network, we’ve also engaged in specific projects like Maldon to Dombarton because of their significance for this regional economy.

JOURNALIST: What about the exact time frame and how much more additional funding needs to go towards it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We believe what this will do is facilitate private sector investment. Sometimes what you need is you need seed funding from the Government in order to attract that guarantee and provide that certainty and confidence.

Just like with the F3 to M2 in Sydney, the State Government and the Federal Government are providing funding for that project to make sure that Transurban then come in and build the F3 to M2.

With this model we’re not asking the State Government to contribute any money because we know that in the past they have ignored this project. The Liberals at the State and Federal level have ignored this project. This will make sure that this project goes ahead.

JOURNALIST: What is the latest estimate for how much it will cost and (inaudible)?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: One of the benefits of getting private sector processes is that you will have efficiencies in there. The estimate of the full cost is in the order of slightly more than $500 million. But it will produce a return just as other freight activity in terms of rail produces a return, and is therefore very attractive to private investment.

That is what has occurred in Queensland and in other parts of New South Wales. We see major investment in rail freight, and because rail freight is more efficient than having trucks on roads.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The $50 million, we have had discussions but obviously this is a State Government controlled area. But we’ve had discussions with private consortiums both Australian, but also international consortiums who have indicated their willingness and indeed their enthusiasm for getting on board and getting this project up.

JOURNALIST: Minister, I just want to ask about the 4,600 homes connected today. They are already facing weeks or month-long lead times to actually get connected to the NBN. Do you know what strategies are being put in place to knock down those waiting times and whether they are having any success?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The NBN is really popular in Kiama, that’s what’s going on here. The roll out is so successful, so many people want to connect that there has been a delay of weeks in terms of being able to talk to a provider, but also then to get the connection done.

So what will occur over a period of time, obviously those waiting times will come down. I’ve certainly spoken to NBN Co about putting in place measures that will reduce those waiting times.

But Kiama - fully connected. Nowra - half connected, half not. And the other half won’t get it if Tony Abbott is elected on 7 September.

JOURNALIST: Is there any comment you would like to make on infrastructure difficulties that they have had in making connections here?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: In terms of infrastructure, infrastructure development is never simple. This is the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history.

This is rolling out a project to every home and business. It’s an exciting project and there are some who have tried to talk down the project like they try to talk down the Australian economy.

I’m an enthusiast for this great country. I believe Australia is a great country but our best days are ahead of us. And our best days are ahead of us if we embrace the future.

Part of embracing the future is embracing the NBN. It’s absolutely critical to driving our economy, to driving jobs, to transforming the way that education, health, aged care services are delivered.

It’s not about downloads, it’s about uploads, it’s about smart manufacturing.

This will transform our entire economy; it’s such a positive project. The young kids in there - year five Kiama Public School - wasn’t it fantastic when I asked them who here is connected to the NBN and all the hands went up. And they all loved their NBN.

Well Australians do want their NBN and on 7 September it will be one of the big issues that will determine peoples’ vote.

If you want the NBN you have got to vote Labor.

JOURNALIST: And the announcement on Gerringong Library as well, the NBN is a key feature of that project, can you give us any indication when Gerringong will be connected to the infrastructure?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: In terms of Gerringong, this facility, the $1 million is available in the current financial year - I think it’s $1.25 million - it’s a very exciting project. There’s an attempt to bring everything together in one community facility.

It’s a project that the Council is very keen on I know, including Councillor Reilly here with the two hats on.

We’ve invested in regional community infrastructure right around the country. We believe that is a worthy investment particularly regional communities are deserving of it. Where projects stack up, this is a project that stacks up.

JOURNALIST: You’re going to be talking about this Shellharbour boat harbour project -


JOURNALIST: Are these the only two projects that are being funded through the Regional Development Australia Fund in the Illawarra?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there have been others of course.

JOURNALIST: In round five sorry?

Yes. Every single Council got funding for the RDAF 5A that I announced when I was Local Government Minister just a few months ago.

So each council was funded a proportion of money and they chose their projects.

The great thing about projects like this is they are bottom-up. They have come from the community through their elected local representatives - not been determined from Canberra.

And projects like the Shellharbour Jetty and the Gerringong community facility are exciting projects. In the past we’ve had projects including the Blue Mile at Wollongong and other community infrastructure projects I know that I’ve been to the Illawarra and announced during the last term.

But these are important projects being announced today.

JOURNALIST: Is there a time frame in terms of when construction will start on (inaudible)?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The money is available now, it’s all in the budget, it was all part of the Regional Development Australia Fund that we established in 2011 in the budget.

These projects of course were all opposed - this funding was opposed by Tony Abbott and the Coalition like they opposed all of the economic stimulus plan.

The Opposition pretend that there wasn’t a Global Financial Crisis. Well there was, it impacted the rest of the world. Australia came through it strongly because the Government worked with business and local communities to support jobs when it was needed.

Thanks very much.