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Transcript of doorstop interview: Adelaide: 18 August 2007: South Australian road infrastructure; uranium; Long Tan.



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PRIME MINISTER

18 August 2007

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP ANNOUNCEMENT ADELAIDE

Subjects: South Australian road infrastructure; uranium; Long Tan.

EO&E…………………………………………………………………………………

PRIME MINISTER:

Well ladies and gentlemen I have got two very important roads announcements to make for South Australia and particularly for the people of Adelaide this morning. The first of those is that we are going to announce that the South Road from Sir Donald Bradman Drive to the Southern Expressway will be placed on the National Road Network. Our aim is to see the upgrade of the North South Corridor from Darlington South of Adelaide to the CBD and the Port of Adelaide completed by 2020 and to achieve this we will be committing some $1 billion to be matched by the South Australian Government between now and the completion of the project. As part of the North South Corridor the Australian Government will fund 50 per cent of the cost of

upgrading the overpasses at Grand Junction Road and at Cormack Road.

And in recognition of the inconvenience caused to change the direction of the flow on the Southern Expressway at certain times of the day I am also announcing that the Government is willing to provide a capped amount of $100 million to the upgrade of the Expressway, subject to the South Australian Government committing to provide the balance.

What these announcements mean and what other announcements under AusLink will mean is that the Federal Government will be more than doubling the funding for national road and rail networks for South Australia from some $434 million to close to $1 billion over the period from 2009 to 2014.

These two announcements will deal with two of the most significant and legitimate road concerns of the people of Adelaide. They recognise the long standing need to do

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something about this both ways Expressway which is unique I think in any city anywhere in the world and must be a source of enormous inconvenience and frustration to people who live in this part of the city and who use it to travel to other places, including Victor Harbour. And of course the longer term commitment to upgrade from 2014 through to 2020 the other road will of course, along with the matching funding from the South Australian Government make an enormous commitment to the renewal of the road infrastructure of this city.

I want to pay tribute to my colleagues and very particularly can I pay tribute to Kym Richardson and Andrew Southcott who have lobbied very, very hard to secure this funding and have argued the importance of it to the traffic flows of the city of Adelaide. So I am delighted to be able on my visit to Adelaide on this occasion, to make these two very important announcements.

JOURNALIST:

So will this mean that the road does finally run both ways? Will this be enough money for that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well providing we get some matching funding from the South Australian Government the answer is yes. I mean it really is a ludicrous situation. We know the history of it, related to the State Bank, and all the reasons why the state couldn’t afford to do it. And it is of course normally a state road, but we believe that this is something where the Federal Government should provide some additional help and I would imagine

that the South Australian Government would readily come to the Party and match the funding or provide the balance that’s needed in order to complete the, how shall we put it, the duplication of the road.

JOURNALIST:

You say the road is a ludicrous situation but it was a former state Liberal Government which built a one way highway?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes but you have got to understand the background as to why it couldn’t be completed, given the financial difficulties of the state.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister have you had discussions with the State Government…?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can’t hear you I am sorry.

JOURNALIST:

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Sorry, Prime Minister have you had discussions with the State Government about whether they will commit funding? Have you spoken to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there haven’t been any recent discussions but we’re putting our funding on the table and I would imagine that you will go and ask the South Australian Government, find out whether it is prepared to match our funding. You have got to remember that we are dealing here with a lot of road construction which traditionally would be the total responsibility of the State Government. But because of the great importance of this road funding or these roads to the people of Adelaide, it is necessary for us to provide some money above and beyond what we would normally provide. So I would imagine that the South Australian Government would only be too ready to say thank you for the contribution that we’re making and then provide the funding to ensure that the projects are completed. Bear in mind that the major one that involves the, that’s the extension from the end of the Sir Donald Bradman Drive, that that is a project that will be completed right through to 2020 and we’ll be committing a billion dollars to that and we would expect that to be matched, as I am sure it will be, by the South Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any idea when construction might start?

PRIME MINISTER:

I beg your pardon?

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any idea when this may start, when construction might start?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it will depend on two things; it will depend upon the willingness and the speed of the South Australian Government to match our funding and also as soon as the Road Construction Authority, which of course is a state authority can get busy. We don’t build roads. They’re built by either State Road Authorities or they are built by private enterprise under contract to both the Federal and State Governments. But most road construction around Australia only proceeds as fast as the State Road Authorities can build the roads. We don’t have a separate Public Works Department and we depend very heavily on State Governments. And I am sure there will be good will. I mean surely the Government of South Australia would want to welcome what we have announced. I would be amazed if they did other than welcome it and say well ‘this is terrific. Let’s work together and let’s get both of the projects under way as soon as possible.’

JOURNALIST:

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Does the 2020 deadline also apply to the extension of the Expressway? You say it’s ludicrous; would you like to see that finished earlier?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I would like to see that finished much earlier than that. The 2020 applies to the other road, not to the…

JOURNALIST:

How soon?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well just as soon as the South Australian Government can get busy on constructing it.

JOURNALIST:

But if they said yes, how…?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well you’d have to ask, you’d have to ask the Construction Authority. We don’t build the roads.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister I take it you’ve travelled on the road yourself. What was your experience?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it’s all right. I mean the confusing thing is for people who use it regularly. I mean I don’t use it regularly because I don’t live in Adelaide. But I mean, its, you don’t need to travel on a road to know that if it goes in one direction for part of the day, the other direction for the other part of the day it’s a bit confusing.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister can you estimate how these changes might affect travelling time, how much might be cut?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess on that but I mean they’re obviously going to significantly alter and shorten the travelling times for people who want to go in the other direction to which the road is going at that particular part of the day. I mean that

is a matter of logic. If in the afternoon you want to go in the other direction it will obviously be shorter if you’ve got it going in both ways.

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JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard is the Federal Government looking at taking over the nation’s ports? Can you explain…?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, no what we’re willing to do and what we want to do is to make certain that the ports operate as efficiently as possible. I mean we have said to the states that it’s vital to our export performance that there not be delays and blockages in ports and what Mr Vaile was saying was that we’re not satisfied in relation to some of the ports. We are in relation to the others and we will do whatever is necessary. But if the states come to the party, if the states run the ports more effectively; and in some states they are run more effectively, then there is no problem.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister on the question of uranium sales to Russia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

What safeguards are there to prevent Russia from on-selling Australian uranium to rogue states?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we haven’t made any announcement in relation to Russia, but let me just say generally that we will only sell uranium to countries that enter into strong bilateral safeguard agreements, that are either signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or they enter into arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency that deliver the same safeguards as are provided under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But speaking in South Australia can I say that it’s in the interests not only of Australia but of the state of South Australia that we sensibly exploit our uranium reserves. And I just find it extraordinary that the federal Labor Party is saying its okay to sell uranium to China, but it’s not okay to sell uranium to the largest democracy in the world, which is India. I just find that an amazingly contradictory proposition. If you can get the same safeguards, why is it okay to sell to China but not okay to sell to democratic India which is the largest democracy in the world?

JOURNALIST:

Speaking about roads and drivers, apparently John Laws has said that Asian drivers are the worst in the world. What is your response to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

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I haven’t seen the context of the discussion.

JOURNALIST:

Could we ask you about Shane Warne? He wants to renounce his Australian citizenship to become a German so he can play county cricket.

PRIME MINISTER:

I would be amazed if Shane ended up doing that, amazed, and so what a lot of Australians. I mean what people do with their citizenship in the end is their own business, but I think along with most other Australians I would be amazed.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, one more question, it’s the Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan today. Why are our Vietnam vets still waiting for their medals 12 months on from when you said you would…?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well they’re not. That particular story omitted the fact that there have been very constant; there’ve been constant discussions, a number of discussions rather between Mr Billson’s office and the particular gentlemen concerned, Colonel Smith. And I in fact last week sent a very lengthy dossier to Colonel Smith analysing the requests that had been made. This has been a long running issue and there are arguments on both sides. And it’s not true to say that there has been no follow up from the discussion that I had with Colonel Smith last year. Thank you.

[ends]

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