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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Treasurer at the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) State Council Meeting: Ballarat, Victoria: Deer Park Bypass, AusLink funding, petrol prices, industrial relations.\n



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Doorstop Interview

Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) State Council Ballarat

Saturday, 8 October 2005 12.45 pm

SUBJECTS: Deer Park Bypass, AusLink funding, petrol prices, industrial relations

TREASURER:

The Federal Government has announced today that it is spending $265 million to build the Deer Park bypass. This brings forward construction which can start in 2006 and it means that the project can be finished and open in 2009. The Federal Government has brought forward this funding under its AusLink programme which will deliver more money to Victoria than ever before for important infrastructure. This is a great announcement for the people of the western suburbs of Melbourne and in particular for the people of Ballarat because it will involve bypassing several intersections, several traffic lights, it will give quicker access to Ballarat and from Ballarat to Melbourne . It will get rid of one of the congestion points which is hampering both commuting and economic development. The Federal Government will build the Deer Park bypass, bring it forward and fund it under AusLink which is great news for Ballarat.

JOURNALIST:

What about the rest of the money?

TREASURER:

Well, this is an announcement which is great for Ballarat and I am pleased to be here in Ballarat to be able to make this announcement. It shows the Federal Government can deliver for the people of Ballarat notwithstanding the breach of promise that the Bracks Government had with the Federal Government over Scoresby. It is certainly my intention to continue to look for projects in Victoria which can benefit from construction but we won't be focussing on those today - today

we are focussing on Deer Park .

JOURNALIST:

You have said you didn't want Victorians to suffer any more pain from the Bracks broken promise so can people read into that that Victoria will get the rest of the money at some stage?

TREASURER:

Well, what people should read into it is that Deer Park will be built much earlier than anticipated, it can start in 2006 and can be open in 2009. Unfortunately the people of Melbourne, the east of Melbourne, will pay tolls for the rest of their lives. They will be paying because of the Bracks broken promise and there is not much we can do about that. But the good news is, if there is a change of government here in Victoria then they may get an alleviation on those tolls.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is the Government announcing a watered-down IR package tomorrow?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Not at all? There is speculation today that it has been considerably modified.

TREASURER:

No, the Government is committed to industrial relations reform. The elements of our policy are well known. What we will be doing is we will be launching a major information campaign including advertising. And I would expect to see that advertising campaign start pretty early, as I hope, as early as tomorrow.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer the Frankston East delegate has, is going to be announcing his solution to the current petrol crisis which is removing excise duty and replacing it with a PERT. Do you see this as the solution?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Why not?

TREASURER:

Well what is a PERT?

JOURNALIST:

It is a petroleum excise replacement tax subject to the GST.

TREASURER:

Oh okay. Well, I am not familiar with PERTs. I don't know that PERTs are applied anywhere else in the world are they?

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

It is a new one to me.

JOURNALIST:

Would it be good for the economy (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

No, I don't think we should be changing the GST. You have got to remember this, the GST base is set by an Agreement between six States, two Territories and the Commonwealth. You can only change the GST base with unanimous agreement. You would need to get the agreement of six States, two Territories and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is not interested in changing the GST base. We put it in place in 2000, it has been bedded down, a suggestion that you would

change that now is you would lead to all of the businesses in Australia having to change their accounting system, you would go through the transactional cost, you would impose more regulatory burden on business. It is not something that commends itself to the Federal Government. The Federal Government would not be interested, nor can I imagine that six States and two Territories would be interested. Can I say this - nobody likes high petrol prices. High petrol prices are bad for consumers, they are bad for motorists, they are bad for business, they are bad for the economy, they do not deliver any additional revenue to the Australian Government. Petrol prices are high because the world oil price is high. I hope the world oil price comes down, that is the only thing that gives lasting relief from high petrol prices and I am not interested in more complexity or changes in relation to the GST, not for a moment, we have bedded it down and the best thing to do is to keep it where it is now that we (inaudible).

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, on IR, there are reports that the Government is softening its stance. Business groups say that if that happens that would undermine the job opportunities for us all that it is supposed to create in the workplace.

TREASURER:

Well, let's see what is announced tomorrow.

JOURNALIST:

Are you happy with the award, the current award (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, I support our policy. And our policy is designed to have minimum conditions with incentives to come to an agreement over and above those minimum conditions but if you don't come to an agreement awards will remain for those that are bound by them. And that is what I support. I don't want to go any further in relation to what may or may not be announced tomorrow.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well unfortunately the Scoresby Freeway will not be built because Mr Bracks broke his promise.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well, unfortunately it won't go on Scoresby, that is the problem.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Hang on, it won't go on Scoresby, Victoria would have had a Freeway if the Bracks Government kept its Agreement. Unfortunately Victoria will not get a freeway it will get a Bracks tollway. There is an opportunity in the next State election to reduce those tolls. But I regret it, we signed an agreement with the Victorian Government, they are the first government in Australian history to have broken an agreement and I just say to the Victorian Government don't try and do this again. And I would say to every other State Government don't try and do it again either.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

(inaudible)

JOURNALIST:

Two weeks ago Minister Truss (inaudible)

TREASURER:

Last question.

JOURNALIST:

…money would be rolled over from Scoresby to Deer Park (inaudible)

TREASURER:

Look, this is a great announcement for Victoria . The truth of the matter is this, the Commonwealth Government funds projects. If a State Government reneges on the agreement it doesn't have that project. The money doesn't go to a State it goes to the next project. Victoria was at risk because of the Bracks broken promise of not only missing out on the Scoresby Freeway but of other projects as well. Now the great news for today is Victoria is going to get the Deer Park bypass. That is the great news of today, not because of anything done by Mr Bracks but in spite of Mr Bracks, it could have all been lost. But the great news for the people of Ballarat is that we can now have a bypass. Unfortunately, and I can't do anything for the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, they won't get their freeway. That is the consequence of the broken promise. But the good news and let's focus on it, the good news for today is that the Deer Park bypass will be built and it will be built early. Thank you.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000