Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Jan 27, 2015

Transcript of press conference – Enmore, Sydney

Subject: Hon Tom Uren AC

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today I’ve been asked by Tom Uren’s family to pay tribute to my comrade and friend who passed away this Australia Day. Tom Uren was a giant who left this nation that he served and loved better off for his presence.

After 93 years he leaves us as a great Australian. Tom Uren is a link to Australia’s past and how we’ve become the nation that we are today.

Born into the Depression in Balmain in 1921, he moved to Manly where he became an active sportsperson, being a surf lifesaver, a representative football player and a professional boxer.

In 1941, like many of his fellow Australians, he signed up to the Australian Army. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 on Timor and served there, in Singapore, and on the infamous Burma-Siam Railway and at the end of the War he was taken to Japan, where he served in the slave labour force in the lead-up to the end of the Second World War.

From there, he witnessed on the horizon the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. He then returned to Australia where he became a manager at Woolworths at Lithgow. He went into Federal Parliament after having been inspired to join the Australian Labor Party in 1958. He served as the Federal Member for Reid for some 32 years and served as a Minister in both the Whitlam and the Hawke Governments.

His legacy, is of someone who was passionate about the natural and built environment, passionate about civil liberties, passionate about peace and social justice, passionate about the rights of working people and the underprivileged. This is a legacy of which he was rightly proud.

Tom Uren continued up until the end as an advocate of social justice, and was very proud of the decision by Julia Gillard and the Labor Government to grant justice to the former Japanese Prisoners of War, just in the last few years.

Tom Uren was a man of principle. He didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk. He cared about his community and he cared about his nation. Tom Uren didn’t go through the Second World War and come out as many could understandably have come out, with bitterness.

He spoke in his first speech about the philosophy learnt on the Burma-Siam railway as part of Weary Dunlop’s force there. It was a philosophy that said the Australians were better off because the fit looked after the sick, the young looked after the old and the rich looked after the poor. Under Weary Dunlop’s leadership, the officers in the Australian force shared, according to need, with those of their fellow prisoners who needed that assistance.

It is remarkable that Tom Uren came through that experience as an advocate for reconciliation – as an opponent, not of the Japanese, but as an opponent of militarism and he lived that way his entire life.

When it came to injustice such as the Queensland anti-march laws, he didn’t just march, but went to jail for refusing to pay the fine. Wherever injustice was, he stood up. He became an of outspoken advocate for the rights of the East Timorese, in part because he believed that Australians owed the East Timorese a debt due to what they did for our forces during the Second World War.

He was someone who could reach across the political divide. He was a builder of alliances. When I nominated him for the Companion of the Order of Australia that he was granted just a couple of years ago, his support letters came from Julia Gillard, the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, the then Leader of the Opposition and Bob Brown, the then Leader of the Australian Greens. All three of them strongly supported this highest of Australian honours being granted to Tom Uren.

Tom Uren was passed away peacefully and I was able to spend time with him just two days ago. He leaves a legacy that is enormous for our movement. He was a lover of people and of the community and the community gave him that affection back.

I mourn him today. I pay tribute to him and I thank him on a personal level for his mentoring of me. He was the closest that I had to a father figure over the last 30 years when, as a very young man, I went to work for him and it was an honour and privilege to be his comrade and his friend.

REPORTER: Can you tell us a little about that time you spent with him a couple of days ago?

ALBANESE: Well, Tom had suffered considerably in recent times. As a Prisoner of War in World War II, he went through what his fellow prisoners went through, malaria, cholera, the diseases, the suffering that they went through that’s outlined so vividly in Richard Flanagan’s book that won the Booker Prize last year.

I must say I asked Tom about that. He didn’t have to read any of the books or any of the histories because he was there. But eventually in terms of his illness, he spent recent months in Lulworth House, part of St Luke’s Hospital. At one stage we had Tom Uren, Gough Whitlam and Neville Wran all being looked after and cared liked to for so well and he would have liked to have passed on his thanks to the nursing staff and those wonderful compassionate people who do such a remarkable job for looking after people towards the end of their life.

REPORTER: Did you ever tell him he was like a father figure to you?

ALBANESE: Many times. I loved him. He told me on Saturday that he loved me.

REPORTER: How tough was that for you?

ALBANESE: Look, it’s been a tough period. I was there a couple of weeks ago, we had one-on-one time. Tom was ready to go. He said to me that death is a part of life, it’s the end period.

He had led such a remarkable life, to have that contact that he had with many tens of thousands of Australians, to walk down a street with Tom Uren and to see the love that people had for him and the respect that people had for him was quite remarkable and I think just shows the person that he was.

In the noise of politics where so much of it is petty in modern politics, Tom Uren always soared above the pack, with his vision, with his principle, with his ideals and with his determination to achieve progressive change for this country and indeed for the world.

I had him as a guest for President Obama’s address to the Parliament just a few years ago and moments like that were a great honour to spend with someone like Tom Uren who had, of course, that connection going back to the Great Depression and that experience and that humility that he had.

REPORTER: What do you think modern Labor needs to take from his experience and his role in shaping, I guess, the Party as it is today?

ALBANESE: Tom Uren was an inspiration to many. He was a man of principle but he was also a man who got things done. He was pragmatic when he needed to be. He was about outcomes. He was about building alliances as well.

Tom Uren worked very hard on the Sydney Harbour National Park issue. We had a joke just a couple of weeks ago about the issue that appears to be happening in Tony Abbott’s own electorate.

Tom Uren had a good relationship with Tony and he certainly said that he wanted to have a word with him at one stage about making sure that nothing infringed on the principle of Sydney Harbour National Park that he fought so hard for.

The important thing about Tom is his legacy in terms of the register of the National Estate, the built environment heritage but also the national environment heritage that he was such a part of building.

He was prepared to reach out across the aisle, whether it be to John Howard or to Tony Abbott or whether it be to people in the Greens political party, whilst remaining an absolute true believer in the Labor Party.

He insisted on door-knocking in the last Federal campaign in 2013 for me. And ringing people for me when the leadership ballot was on between myself and Bill, which he saw as a great improvement in the Labor Party and he certainly encouraged me to say the least, to run.

REPORTER: He is one of the last of perhaps the old guard of the Labor Party, many of whom have passed away recently?

ALBANESE: That’s right. It’s been a very sad 12 months for the Labor Party to see giants like Neville Wran, Gough Whitlam and Tom Uren pass. But all of them remained very positive about the future, right up until the end and Tom was a very passionate servant, as he put it, of the people.

And he saw the Labor Party as the vehicle to achieve that change through the Parliament but he also saw and played an important role in the Labor Party’s principles of action, which is part of the Socialist Objective that isn’t looked at as often by as many that look at the first few lines.

That principle of action speaks about community action, action by trade unions and action by broader society. Tom Uren was someone who was a regular marcher. He was someone who was active in civil society and understood that politics didn’t just happen in the Parliament, it happened on the meeting rooms, on the streets, around the family dinner table and around the local RSL or sporting organisation as well.

REPORTER: With all due respect, there don’t seem to be those sorts of giants and staunch believers in the Labor Party at the moment who wear their hearts on sleeve and prepared to take massive political risks if necessary to carry on their own true beliefs. Would you accept that?

ALBANESE: No, I accept that Tom Uren was a giant of the movement and you don’t have to, and he certainly wouldn’t want, anyone to be denigrated in order to praise him. What Tom Uren was, was an optimist and positive.

He never succumbed; he never, ever succumbed to negative politics. That is pretty remarkable given the tough life that he had. I think that is one of the reasons that why he is such an inspirational figure to myself, to my generation and to generations to come who will be able to have a read of Straight Left, his autobiography and to read about his circumstances.

He spoke many times of the success of the Labor movement. Even in his first speech he spoke about the success of the Labor movement in having gains which improved living standards.

Of course, improvements occurred as a result of his contribution after he was a Member of Parliament and others who have come after them as well. He was a great believer in local government and he I think is seen by many as the father of local government in the federal sphere.

It is because of him that there are direct Financial Assistance Grants to local government. He saw politics as being from the ground up and right until the end he remained faithful to his beliefs and he retained a faith in people to be able to advance progressive change.

He used to dismiss some of the romantic notions that are there, that there was a golden era in the past but not the future. He spoke about environmentalism and how far that had moved from the time when he was made Labor’s first environment spokesperson.

When he was in Parliament, there wasn’t even an Environment Minister. Now the environment is a core issue that is critical to all political parties in this nation.

Thank you.

Jan 23, 2015

Transcript of press conference – Cairns

Subjects: Far North Queensland, infrastructure; Bruce Highway; Cape York Infrastructure; tourism; Campbell Newman; Tony Abbott; Queensland Labor, Rob Pyne, Craig Crawford.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE, CITIES AND TOURISM: I’m here today with Rob Pyne and Craig Crawford, our candidates for Cairns and Barron River, and I’m here to ask for a vote for Labor in next Saturday’s state election on January 31st.

Labor is deserving of support from Queenslanders because of what we have done in the past and our record, but more importantly because of what we will do in the future.

Tourism employs 1 in 10 Queenslanders and yet what we’re seen from the federal government is no Tourism Minister appointed and a complete withdrawal of federal funding to promote domestic tourism of Far North Queensland to the rest of Australia is now vastly reduced, with no support from the federal government.

Given that Far North Queensland has to compete with other destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, that’s a very short-sighted approach. But it’s not surprising from a government that doesn’t even have a Tourism Minister. And of course in Queensland we saw a $20 million cut to events and tourism just in last year’s state Budget.

On infrastructure it was Federal Labor partnering with the former state Labor Government that committed the $150 million for the southern approaches to Cairns, that committed the $210 million that’s in the Cape York Roads Package that has been subsequently reannounced by the incoming federal Government.

When it comes to action on jobs and support for this region, what I know is that Annastacia Palaszczuk and the State Labor Party backed by strong local candidates such as Rob and Craig and others in the region who will stand up for Far North Queensland. They will make sure there’s a strong voice for Cairns in Queensland’s Parliament House as well as a voice all the way down in Canberra.

That voice is absolutely critical, given the fact that Campbell Newman has refused to stand up to Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott is missing from this campaign but he’s not missing in terms of his impact on this region.

The $80 billion of cuts to education and health. The cuts to infrastructure. The cuts to tourism – they’re all having an impact here. Queensland needs a Premier who will stand up to Tony Abbott in Canberra.

Annastacia Palaszczuk is just such a person. Campbell Newman is not because he’s put the interests of the LNP before the interests of Queenslanders.

I was the Infrastructure Minister for six years and during those years we saw record investment in Queensland. Record investment in the Bruce Highway, but also the Cape York Infrastructure Package, worked out by the Federal Government and put in the 2013 Budget.

As well, we saw community infrastructure, whether it be the sporting ovals such as at Cazalys here in Cairns, whether it be the money that we put aside for the entertainment precinct that Campbell Newman withdrew upon his coming to office.

What we saw is that it’s Labor that is prepared to invest in infrastructure, whether it be major roads, whether it be community infrastructure, whether it be the CBD revitalization of Cairns that we also funded.

REPORTER: What qualities do you see in Rob and Craig as local candidates?

ALBANESE: What I see is experience in Craig as someone who works in the emergency services sector. I see someone who’s prepared to take that passion and commitment for his local community from his current workplace into being an advocate in the Parliament.

In Rob I see someone who is in his second term on the Council, who has already shown himself to be a strong advocate at the local government level and he can take that passion and commitment into the state government arena. I think we have extraordinary candidates here in Far North Queensland and they’re worthy of support.

It’s no wonder that Campbell Newman is trying to hide from the electorate. He’s having an election for the first time since Federation, that is being conducted in January. You only do that if you’re trying to hide from accountability and you don’t want to argue your case before the electorate.

And of course he’s been passive when it comes to standing up to Tony Abbott. He thinks if Tony Abbott just disappears and is stopped at the border, stopped from crossing the Tweed River into Queensland, then Queenslanders will forget the impact that Tony Abbott’s is having on their standard of living.

REPORTER: What funding would you like to see if the Labor Party did take office in Queensland, like the Bruce Highway, and on a local level, to boost tourism which is a huge issue in Cairns, on a local level, what could we expect from the Labor Party on things like road infrastructure and tourism?

ALBANESE: I’d like to see the Bruce Highway upgrades that we committed money for. Real money, real investment from the Federal Government in partnership with the State Government.

What we’ve seen from the incoming Government is just reannouncements of funding that was already in budgets at the federal and state level. I want to see a real commitment with real difference not just reannouncements.

Already, the $100 million package for the reef that’s been announced by Queensland Labor and $40 million tourism package is a significant step forward for valuing this region and the Great Barrier Reef.

When the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama, came and gave a speech lauding the beauty of the reef for his family and future generations, that should have been welcomed by the Liberal and National Parties.

Instead, they saw it as an attack on our national sovereignty. That says a lot about the way that Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman view this region.

ROB PYNE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAIRNS: One of the reasons that we invited Anthony here today is because during the 6 years he was the Infrastructure Minister we received twice the amount of roads funding in the Far North than we did in over a decade with John Howard.

So Anthony’s got a record of delivering up here. Labor has a record of delivering in the Far North and we want to build on that and deliver for the people who have been neglected under Campbell Newman. Thank you.

 

Jan 20, 2015

Transcript of press conference – Melbourne

Subjects: Benefits of public transport, Melbourne Metro, Brisbane Cross River Rail, East-West Link, Infrastructure Australia, Manus Island.

ALBANESE: It’s good to be here in Melbourne and to have the opportunity to talk about the important report that’s been released today by the Australasian Railway Association. What this report highlights is the benefit to commuters of having access to public transport. We know there are significant economic benefits in terms of productivity and the way that our cities function better by having investment in public transport.

What this report shows is the benefit to individuals. They show up to $12,600 can be saved on an annual basis by people who are able to use public transport rather than their car, when all costs are taken into account – costs including petrol, registration, parking and other fees. These figures come from organisations like the NRMA that have assessed the costs of running a private motor vehicle. Here in Melbourne and in Brisbane the costs are higher.

An average of $10,000 annually would be the savings to drivers in those cities who replace motor vehicle use with public transport use. But in order for people to have that option, they need to have access to public transport. That’s why the record investment by the former federal Labor Government was so important with projects the Regional Rail Link here in Melbourne.

That will make a difference to commuters not just from Melbourne but also to people from Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat. That’s why we prioritized by having Infrastructure Australia assess projects based on their productivity. Projects like the Cross River Rail and Melbourne Metro. All had federal funding included in the Budget. Tony Abbott in his book Battlelines outlines this bizarre proposition, where he says, in his words, ‘Mostly there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car and cars need roads.’.

What this report shows is that that attitude hurts individuals; it doesn’t just hurt the economy here in Victoria and the economy nationally. We’ve seen here in Victoria that Tony Abbott’s proposed East-West Link where $1.5 billion was forwarded to the Victorian Government as an advance payment, in contravention of the federal Government’s own stated policies, only had a cost-benefit analysis of 0.45 or 45 cents benefit for every dollar expended. So whether you look at the national economic circumstances or whether you look at individual finances, investment in public transport is good for the economy and its good for families.

QUESTION: If you win the next federal election would you reinvest that money into public transport?

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott has not invested any new money. He took $3 billion allocated for the Melbourne Metro and put it into the East-West Link. What we’ve said is we will have Infrastructure Australia drive where investment should go. We know that the Melbourne Metro project stacks up. The Victorian Government prioritised during the state election campaign the removal of level crossings that are important for productivity but also critical for road safety. They also have a proposal to increase access to the Westgate bridge, particularly for heavy vehicle traffic. What we will do in the lead up to the federal election is talk to our Victorian state colleagues about what their priorities are but we will also be guided  by what Infrastructure Australia says and proper cost-benefit analysis. We know the Melbourne Metro is a needed project here in Melbourne just like we know the Cross River Rail project is needed by commuters in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in Queensland.

QUESTION: Do you support the state Labor Government’s decision to rip up the East-West contracts given it might cost $1 billion in compensation?

ALBANESE: I’ve seen some extraordinary comments from the now Victorian Opposition speaking about the cost to Victorians for a contract that they entered into just a few weeks before caretaker mode knowing that it was a real possibility that they wouldn’t be the government, and knowing that the alternative government’s position was that it should not proceed. We know now that the project simply doesn’t stack up. That’s why the Infrastructure Australia process is so important. Bringing transparency. Allowing taxpayers to see what the quantitative results are of an analysis of proposed investment of their money into projects. The Victorian Liberal Government stand condemned for what they did in their final days. What Daniel Andrews has done is exactly what he said he would do. The federal Government hasn’t done that. The federal Government said, for all projects over $100 million they would be guided by Infrastructure Australia’s advice. We now know that the Victorian Coalition made a conscious decision to keep that analysis from Infrastructure Australia.

In the documents that have been released the deceit is extraordinary. They say we shouldn’t forward this business case onto Infrastructure Australia because it will be used to not recommend funding for the project. That is an outrage on the taxpayers of Victoria and the Victorian Coalition stand condemned for it and the federal Coalition either knew that and were complicit in that deceit or they simply ignored their own policy anyway, were kept in the dark by the Victorian Coalition and still determined to fund $3 billion for this project and make an advance payment of $1.5 billion so the Victorian budget would look a bit better for their friends in the Coalition.

Well that didn’t help Denis Napthine. What we need in infrastructure is transparency, openness and productivity driving agendas and I am confident that’s precisely what Daniel Andrews and Tim Pallas are doing. I’ll have further discussions with the Victorian Government today. I’ve already had significant discussions with the new Treasurer, Tim Pallas and the ministers responsible in the transport area and I look forward to having a cooperative relationship with them. What’s more, Tony Abbott needs to climb down off his high horse and engage constructively with the Victorian Government as well.

QUESTION: On a different matter, given the recent scenes coming from Manus Island, would you want to see Manus Island closed down if Labor was in power?

ALBANESE: What I want to see is transparency. Today, I listened this morning to the new Immigration Minister on the ABC’s AM program and I was none the wiser as to what was happening on Manus Island after that interview than I was before. They have replaced the minister. They need to replace the script. Australians have a right to know what is going on.

QUESTION: Does that mean that you, would Labor allow journalists in to Manus Island if you were to win government?

ALBANESE: I absolutely believe that transparency is critical on all of these issues. The Australian Government has a responsibility to people who are in their care. Human rights need to be protected at all times. The Australian Government should fulfil its responsibilities. At the moment, what is clear is they are not. What is also clear is that they want the details to remain unclear. Transparency is absolutely important on these issues.

QUESTION: Do you regret then that Labor was the one that reopened the centre back in 2013?

ALBANESE: It is difficult to argue that we are responsible in Opposition for the current conduct of the Government’s policies. The current Government has policies that are defined by secrecy, by closed doors and by misinformation. What is important is that there be transparency in all of these procedures and what is important is that people be treated with dignity and with respect. All human beings –

[inaudible]

ALBANESE: With due respect, you are not going to get me to rewrite Labor’s immigration policy, that is a matter for the immigration spokesperson. As an Australian, and as a parliamentarian, I firmly believe that all people deserve to be treated with respect and what we are seeing from the current Government is quite clearly people not being treated with respect, whether they be people who are detainees or people including the Australian public. The Australian public has a right to know what is going on.

QUESTION: So if some of the people in the centre were found to be refugees, should they be resettled in Australia?

ALABNESE: That is a matter for the immigration spokesperson and that is not me.  I am Acting Shadow Minister for Communications and a range of things at the moment but the policies set by Shadow Cabinet. It is set in a reasonable way after proper discussion. With regards to future policy, that is a matter for the immigration spokesperson.

What I can say is that the Government needs to be transparent because I listened to the that interview this morning on the AM program and all I heard was, you may as well have had two Scott Morrisons. Maybe they’ve cloned him with Peter Dutton. What we are not getting is proper information. What we are also not getting is an assurance that human rights will be respected and that people will be treated with dignity. Thanks very much.

Jan 19, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Buranda Station, Woolloongabba

Subjects: Infrastructure investment, public transport, Cross River Rail, Mackay Ring Road, Peak Downs Highway, Campbell Newman, Warren Truss.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT; SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIES: I’m very pleased to be here today with Jackie Trad, the Shadow Transport Minister for the Labor Party in Queensland. Today we’ve seen reported on the front page of The Australian newspaper, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that were released on January 14. Those statistics are a damning indictment of what the Liberal and National Parties do when they’re in government.

Here in Brisbane at the G20 the Abbott Government and Joe Hockey talked up the need for governments to invest in nation building infrastructure, to boost productivity and growth and jobs. Yet what we’ve seen is the precise opposite. What these statistics show is that since the election of the Abbott Government, if you look at the combined investments of federal and state governments dominated by the Coalition around the country, investment has fallen by 20%.

Here in Queensland, the fall is 40% since the Newman Government was elected. In Victoria over the life of the Baillieu and Napthine Governments investments fell by 41%. In NSW under the O’Farrell and Baird Governments investment fell by 30%. This is a pattern. It shows that under the Coalition you get less infrastructure investment.

We’ve got a couple of examples of it here in Queensland. Here in Queensland the Cross River Rail project that was abandoned by the Newman and Abbott Government, approved by Infrastructure Australia, regarded as the best infrastructure project to boost productivity anywhere in the nation, $715 million agreed to be allocated by both governments – they walked away from it. And they walked away from it in favour of a very inferior BaT tunnel proposal, for which no one’s seen the business case.

Further north today Warren Truss will be around Mackay announcing so-called funding for the Peak Downs Highway. The only problem with that is that it was the former Labor Government which in 2012 provided $13 million for the planning money. In the 2013 Budget we announced and included $120 million for construction to commence in 2015 –  the same money Warren Truss will reannounce today.

Since they were elected the federal Coalition have gone on a magical infrastructure reannouncement tour right around the country claiming projects as new that were already under construction and where the investment was already provided in previous Budgets by the former Labor Government.

They haven’t invested, and here in Queensland, the Queensland LNP state government hasn’t invested either under Campbell Newman. What we know is that it takes Labor Governments to invest in public transport, to invest in freight rail and to invest in our road network.

JACKIE TRAD, QUEENSLAND SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND MAIN ROADS: Thank you Anthony. I’m really pleased to be here with Anthony today, someone who is passionate about infrastructure and public transport and someone who under his leadership as federal infrastructure minister, Australia moved from being ranked 20th in the OECD on infrastructure spend to first. That’s what you get from Labor – you get a legacy of public infrastructure, and you get a commitment to ensuring that our cities grow vibrantly and that people can get around.

Under the Newman LNP Government, spending on public infrastructure has fallen by 40%. That’s 40% less being spent on the important infrastructure that Queensland needs – whether it’s Cross River Rail, extending the rapid light rail down the Gold Coast, the Bruce Highway. You name it, it’s been abandoned by this government. The only infrastructure spend they’re focused on is a brand new executive tower for Campbell Newman and his ministers. That is the only infrastructure project that the LNP Government has committed to in the last 3 years.

Of course, now Campbell Newman is telling Queenslanders that the only way to invest in public infrastructure is to sell all of our profitable public assets. Campbell Newman again has said that he won’t sell assets unless he gets the right price. So all the infrastructure he’s been running around committing to over the past week or so falls over if he doesn’t get the price he wants.

Labor is calling on Campbell Newman to release all of the business case studies, all of the documentation around the sale of assets, because if the independent consultants are saying that these assets won’t attract the right price then these  infrastructure projects that he’s promised over the past week are hollow and will never see the light of day.

This is too important to simply rely upon Campbell Newman’s word.

QUESTION: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: A message to Warren Truss. When he’s in Mackay reannouncing the Peak Downs Highway funding he can explain to the people of Mackay, where I was yesterday, why it is that the Mackay Ring Road, where the planning money was funded, $10 million from the former federal Labor Government , and then funding for the Ring Road was put in the Budget in 2013 for construction to commence in 2014, why it is that that’s being delayed out to 2017?

They talk a lot about the Bruce Highway, and LNP members, both federal and state drive up and down and point towards the problem. What they haven’t done is invest.

The approach of cutting the Mackay Ring Road whilst reannouncing funding already there for the Peak Downs Highway just highlights how hollow the Coalition are when it comes to infrastructure investment. It’s a practical example along with the Cross River Rail cuts of why it is that infrastructure investment is falling not increasing at a time when we need that investment to secure jobs and economic growth.

Thank you.

Jan 15, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Kangaroo Point, Brisbane

Subjects: Public transport, Cross River Rail, Moreton Bay Rail Link Campbell Newman, Tony Abbott.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT, CITIES, AND TOURISM: Good morning on this beautiful Queensland day by the Brisbane River.

I’m joined by Jackie Trad, the Shadow Transport Minister but also local member here, and Grace Grace who’s the candidate for Brisbane Central, and hopefully will return to the Queensland Parliament after January 31st.

I’m here at the very spot where Campbell Newman agreed that there would be a joint announcement between the Federal Labor Government and the Queensland Coalition Government about the Cross River Rail project. It was agreed and in the 2013 Budget we provided $715 million of investment for this project.

The Queensland Government had agreed they would match that with $715 million. We had superannuation funds interested in participating in what would be a co-investment in this vital project for the future not just for Brisbane, but also the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

That followed Infrastructure Australia’s recommendation in June 2012. Infrastructure Australia identified the Cross River Rail project as the best infrastructure project in the country bar none, because of what it would do to transform Brisbane and to deal with the issue of traffic congestion. Good for commuters, good for those people who live near the new station, good also for those people who use the roads, because it would be taking cars off those roads.

Campbell Newman, when Tony Abbott made his decision that there would be no Commonwealth investment in any public transport projects, instead of standing up for Queensland he rolled over like a little puppy wanting to have his tummy tickled by Mr Abbott. Campbell Newman should have stood up for his state. Instead he stood up for his mate. Queensland and Brisbane has suffered as a result of that.

JACKIE TRAD, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND MAIN ROADS; Thanks Anthony and thank you for all being here today. Can I particularly thank Anthony who is a passionate advocate for public transport infrastructure not only for Queensland in the South East Corner but right across Australia. Can I also acknowledge Grace Grace who’s here today who will hopefully join the Labor Party in the Queensland Parliament after the election on the 31st of January.

Of course we know that Campbell Newman has been fast and furious in his promises over the last three days. He’s promised infrastructure throughout Brisbane and throughout the regions only today. But we also know his promises around infrastructure spend can only happen if he sells our assets, if he sells the power infrastructure, the power assets that Queensland mums and dads have built up over hundreds of years.

We know without the right price, the Premier has said himself, that these assets won’t be sold. If that happens, any commitment he has to funding, any infrastructure promises he’s made this week fall over, and we also know that his commitment to fund his second rate second river crossing falls over as well.

There’ll be no money for the Bus and Train Tunnel, which has been resoundingly criticised and rejected by transport planners and transport experts right across the country. No funding will be provided for Queensland rail. Rail in the south-east corner will hit a rail capacity crisis.

Campbell Newman needs to detail how he’s going to fix the rail crisis that presents itself only next year in 2016 if he doesn’t get his asset sales. Does he have a secret plan B? Is he looking at sacking more public servants? Are there 20,000 more public servants that he is prepared to sack to fund this project? Are there more deep cuts that he has planned for frontline services to fund the projects that he has promised but that he can’t deliver unless he gets the right price for selling our assets? I’d now like to hand over to Grace Grace to make a few remarks.

GRACE GRACE, CANDIDATE FOR BRISBANE CENTRAL: It’s actually astonishing that you have $715 million on the table to build infrastructure that the city desperately needs and Campbell Newman turns his back on it. I’m astonished.

The inner city needs this public infrastructure. It could have started already had Campbell Newman not walked away and backed his mate Abbott. I’m standing here today saying we need this infrastructure. If Labor gets in this is where it’s going to start and this is infrastructure we need to have in the inner city.

ALBANESE: Happy to take questions.

QUESTION: Where’s the money coming from?

ALBANESE: We had money in the Budget – allocated in the Budget already. $715 million. What Mr Abbott did was take money that had been allocated for infrastructure here in Brisbane that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia and send it off to his mates in Melbourne for the East-West Link that has fallen over because it doesn’t stack up. It had a cost-benefit ratio of 0.45 or 45 cents return for every dollar spent. Goodness knows what the batty BaT proposal has because no one has got to see it. We know the Cross River Rail project stacks up. The BaT proposal is inferior, unfunded, and here we have all of Campbell Newman’s infrastructure promises.

What’s he saying is that they’re dependent upon the sale of assets. During most campaigns political parties tell you what they’ll give to the people. What Campbell Newman is doing is saying what he’ll take from the people – things that they already own – and where does it stop? I don’t think it’s just power. It’s schools, it’s hospitals, in order to fund these promises that aren’t really promises, they’re maybes. It’s quite astonishing.

People here in Brisbane can have a look at what Labor governments did in cooperation. They don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to theorise. They can go to the Ipswich Motorway and have a look. They can go to the Gateway project and have a look. They can go to the Pacific Motorway. They can go and ride on the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system.

Mr Newman and Mr Abbott aren’t saying what will happen with the second stage that will link up with the main rail line. It was always envisaged that there’d be a Stage 2. From this mob, there’s nothing to say about it, and we have a Commonwealth Games coming up very shortly where construction will have to begin if it is going to meet the expectations that are there.

Yesterday I visited the Moreton Bay Rail Link. When Campbell Newman came in he tried to withdraw the funding from it. Tony Abbott cut $159 million from the project in the Budget in May last year and from Campbell Newman you didn’t have as much as a whimper about the cuts that were made. I’m very proud of the record that both Federal Labor and Queensland Labor have when it comes to infrastructure; building roads, but also building public transport.

QUESTION: There are many Federal Labor figures in Queensland at the moment. How much time will you be spending campaigning on these and other Queensland election issues?

ALBANESE: I’ll be here in Brisbane on Sunday night. On Sunday during the day I’ll be in Mackay. I’ll be in other parts of regional Queensland and I’ll be back here right up until January 31. I’ve got to say, I’m always pleased to be in Queensland but I’m particularly pleased to be here campaigning not only for the ideas that Federal Labor have, but the ideas that Federal Labor wants to partner with Queensland Labor for.

If Tony Abbott were here I’d be happy to have a discussion with him. But I haven’t run into him yet and it’s unlikely I’ll run into him while I’m here, whether that’s in Brisbane, Townsville, or the Sunshine Coast. Tony Abbott’s nowhere to be seen.

Well Campbell Newman can’t run. Campbell Newman is running from his relationship with Tony Abbott. He’s not prepared to stand up to Tony Abbott. So I think there is a legitimate role for Federal Labor as part of this campaign supporting our colleagues in Queensland Labor.

I’ve known these two fine women for a very long time. They’re good friends of mine. It’s a tragedy that someone like Grace Grace has had a period outside of the parliament. There’s no doubt that the parliament would be better for her re-election but there’s also no doubt that Jackie Trad needs to just remove that one word from her title which is “shadow”. If that’s the case, Queensland will benefit. Thanks.

 

Jan 14, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Kippa-Ring Station construction site, Moreton Bay Rail Link, Brisbane

Subjects: Moreton Bay Rail Link; Cross River Rail; public transport; QLD election; Campbell Newman

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE AND CITIES: I’m pleased to welcome my former parliamentary colleagues and now state member for Redcliffe Yvette D’ath who more than anyone else is responsible for turning what was a promise back in 1895 by the then Queensland Parliament, into actual construction for the Moreton Bay Rail Link.

I’m also joined by Chris Whiting who is the candidate for Murrumba, Shane King who is the Labor Candidate for Kallangur, Mark Ryan the Labor Candidate for Morayfield, and Nikki Boyd, the Labor Candidate for Pine Rivers.

We’re here to reinforce what a fantastic project this is. This is a great project of one and a half billion dollars that will make an enormous difference to the lives of literally tens of thousands of people in the northern suburbs of Brisbane by giving them direct access to public transport options. That’s good for people who use rail, but it’s also good for people who use the roads because it reduces traffic congestion.

Today on my way here I experienced that yet again as a regular visitor to this region. We committed to this project in the 2010 election and we put the money in the first Budget after that election.

It was a partnership between the former federal Labor Government, the then state Labor Government and $100 million from local government, the Moreton Bay Regional Council. You need cooperation of federal and state government if you’re going to build major public transport infrastructure.

What we’ve seen around the country is projects like this going ahead, like the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system that is now up and running – with no money for the future stages from the Coalition government – but also projects like the Regional Rail Link in Victoria, the Noarlunga to Seaford Extension in South Australia, the Perth CityLink project.

Right around the country, we as a Federal Labor Government were prepared to partner with state and local governments to build infrastructure. What we saw when Campbell Newman was elected was that he tried to walk away from this project. Of course when we first announced it the Coalition had a policy of supporting it, opposing it and supporting it again within a period of 24 hours.

What we see now is a state government that is winding back its public transport infrastructure investment including cutting all funding to the Cross River Rail project, which would make a difference to those people not just in Brisbane but on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Here we saw in the federal budget $159 million cut by Tony Abbott for this project in terms of the federal funds. And what did we hear from Campbell Newman as a result of that? That will mean it is an inferior project. You can’t cut that sort of money out without winding the project back. Like winding back sound barriers, like winding back the quality of the infrastructure at the new stations for this project.

Campbell Newman should have done what past Queensland premiers have done and stood up for his state. Instead Campbell Newman stood up for his mates. And his best mate is Tony Abbott.

What we’re seeing from Campbell Newman is a failure to stand up for Queensland when it comes to federal cuts. Federal cuts to public infrastructure, federal cuts to health, federal cuts to education.

When you match that with the cuts that Campbell Newman has made – the vicious cuts to the public sector, here in Queensland, then you have a combination that is impacting on people’s living standards and quality of life.

It’s particularly having an impact on those people in the outer suburban communities.  And that’s why I’m here with these five fantastic Labor candidates.

What I know is what our state candidates have been saying, which is that if you want to turn this around you’ve got to get rid of Campbell Newman. Not just Campbell Newman from his seat, because it’s likely that will happen anyway – a fact that the Queensland LNP is trying to hide.

Queenslanders don’t even know who the Premier will be if they fall across the line and form government. Campbell Newman is already unsure if he’s getting ready for a transfer to federal parliament. If he has the chance he’d like to be the Member for Brisbane, given Teresa Gambaro’s on the nose with her own colleagues and with his mate Tony Abbott in Canberra. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

But this project is absolutely vital. I’m very proud of the work that we did. I remember the cynicism at meetings because this was first promised in 1895. It took a Federal Labor Government and a state Labor Government to deliver it.

YVETTE D’ATH, LABOR MEMBER FOR REDCLIFFE: I want to add that this is a project that was at risk when Campbell Newman came in. He didn’t fight the cutbacks. It took the Federal Labor Government to stand firm with the local council to ensure that what was promised to the people in this region was delivered.

We’ve seen in the first federal Budget of the Abbott Government that they pulled $159 million out of this project. Campbell Newman couldn’t even manage to get one dollar of that $159 million actually back for the state. So if they’re going to make savings, why is it that Tony Abbott’s pocketed the lot and Campbell Newman didn’t even fight for one cent for Queenslanders?

But what we know if you don’t pull that sort of money out of a project without cutting what you’re delivering on. Labor promised the people in this region a dual track six station new rail line and that’s what should be delivered for them. You’ll only get that with a Labor Government.

QUESTION [inaudible] relating to Tony Abbott?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s one thing to, for first time since Federation, call an election in January, while Tony Abbott’s on leave to try and hide his mate.

But it’s another thing to do that after what he’s done. When Campbell Newman had the opportunity to say, no, it’s not good enough that you’re ripping $159 million out of that project, that he’s ripping $715 million out through cuts to the Cross River Rail project.

That is money that went in to fund the dud East-West project in Victoria for his mates in the Victorian Government who were facing an election that they subsequently lost – in part because the East-West project simply didn’t stack up an was rejected.

Why is it that Campbell Newman didn’t object to money being taken from Queenslanders that has been allocated to transport and reallocated to projects in Melbourne?

QUESTION: When it comes to projects and funding for the state and those sorts of public budgets obviously Campbell Newman’s made quite significant promises?

ALBANESE: He hasn’t made any promises. What he’s made is potential promises. These are promises depending upon selling schools, selling hospitals, flogging off all the furniture and then at some time in the future there might be some money for half a project somewhere.

This behind us is a one and a half billion dollar infrastructure project. That is a serious project. The former federal Labor Government doubled the infrastructure budget here in Queensland.

We invested in the sort of projects that you see – the Gateway, the Pacific Motorway. Take for example the Gateway Motorway North, where construction started two years ago. The state Coalition is effectively trying to pretend that’s a new project.

Today I notice in the Courier Mail the Gateway South story, acknowledging that $240 million has already been spent on improvements there for southern Brisbane.

All the Coalition is promising is sometime down the track with no timeframe there might be some money out of asset sales to do a project. How you do an infrastructure project is you say, here is the money, here is the timeframe, and we’re not seeing that from Campbell Newman.

We’re also not seeing that from the federal government. They’ve completely walked away from any funding for public transport. The only reason why this funding wasn’t cut completely – it was only cut by $159 million, is that that’s the maximum they could cut given that construction had already begun with contracts signed. That’s the only reason why you didn’t see it cut back to zero, which is what we saw with the Cross River Rail project.

QUESTION: What discussions have you had with minor parties regarding preferences to QLD Labor candidates?

D’ATH: That’s generally negotiated between the parties themselves. State discussions are going on. We’ve worked out we’re doing out here in relation to any preference but quite simply my message is clear. It was clear in the by-election. If people want myself, if they want Labor here in Redcliffe they’ve got to vote one for Yvette.

QUESTION: [inaudible]

D’ATH: My focus is on the people of Redcliffe.

QUESTION: [inaudible] regarding preferences to Yvette D’ath

D’ATH: We’ll release ours shortly. [inaudible]. The LNP will be last.

QUESTION: How do you think the local party’s campaign is going so far?

D’ATH: I’ve had a lot of positive feedback here in the electorate. The mood has not changed since the by-election. People are still very angry about the cuts to health services, to nurses in this area, to education, the attack on our pay, the winding back of infrastructure projects, the cuts to funding community organisations.

The pain is still being felt. This is not something that the Newman Government did just in their first year. This happened every day that they’ve been in government and it will continue to happen for another three years if he’s returned.

QUESTION: How would you rate Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance so far?

D’ATH: The fact that we’re being told what a close contest this is speaks for itself. They came over as a team of seven, took over the leadership, and we’ve been able to get to the strong position we are in today. I think Annastacia’s done a fantastic job as leader.

QUESTION: Are you looking forward to the economic policy announcements on Friday?

D’ATH: I’ll be pleased when we put our economic policy out. It’s an important policy, as was our health announcement, our announcements on nurses and teachers, funding to develop new innovation and businesses, all extremely important announcements and I’m sure there will be many more important announcements to come.

QUESTION: The economic policy, you’re happy with the policy yourself?

D’ATH: I will not be talking about the policy prior to Friday.

QUESTION: [inaudible] regarding ministerial positions

D’ATH: I am very happy being the Member for Redcliffe. I hope to be the Member for Redcliffe after the 31st of January. I have been immensely proud of being a shadow minister under our leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and I will fulfil whatever duties I am asked to.

QUESTION: Any thoughts from you Anthony Albanese on the possibility of Campbell Newman having a crack at federal politics if he’s not successful this time round?

ALBANESE: You’ve got to ask yourself is, why is he holding an election in January? Why is he putting forward that this absurd proposition somehow when there is a big difference between the margin that he holds and the margin that Labor needs to form government, why is he saying that that’s not an issue? Of course it’s an issue.

Queenslanders have the right to have an answer as to who it is that they’re voting for to be Premier. If the Queensland LNP is successful but Campbell Newman is not, that’s a legitimate question and it’s one that he’s avoiding answering.

Campbell Newman seems a bit disinterested in terms of where he began and his vision he took forward. He said he was going to be someone who would do things for Queensland. He’s done things. He’s cut hospitals. He’s cut schools. He’s cut jobs. He’s cut public transport funding.

Projects like the so-called BaT tunnel, they’re pretty batty. It hasn’t got any cost-benefit analysis out there and is not an alternative to the Cross River Rail which was prioritised number one by Infrastructure Australia.

There was a negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and his government prior to the Budget in 2013 and an agreement from both levels of government for $715 million from each level of government.

He walked away from that commitment. He rolled over and had his tummy tickled by Tony Abbott. He’s trying to avoid scrutiny, which is why he’s having this extraordinary January election.

QUESTION: Just a quick question to Shane, any more problems with signs?

SHANE KING, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR KALLANGUR: No, the matter’s still with the police.  Hopefully they’ll get back to us soon.

ALBANESE: Thanks a lot.

 

Jan 2, 2015

Transcript – Media Conference – Coffs Harbour

 SUBJECTS: Pacific Highway, tourism, Tony Abbott’s cycling, funding cuts, tax

 ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Today I’ve inspected the Sapphire to Arrawarra section of the Pacific Highway that was newly opened. It’s a part of the $7.6 billion the former Labor Government invested on improving travel times on the Pacific Highway but most importantly making this highway safer. By investing in the Pacific Highway we’ve reduced travel times but we’ve also saved lives. That is why this investment is so critical. Holiday makers during this season have benefitted from the Kempsey Bypass, the Ballina Bypass, the Buladelah Bypass and also from upgrades at Glenugie, at Banora Point and at Devil’s Pulpit. But there’s more to be done between Arrawarra and Ballina. This Budget must see the Federal Government invest in the Pacific Highway. Every year we pumped additional money into the Pacific Highway and that effort was abandoned by the incoming Coalition Government. A completion date of 2020 is not good enough. What we need to see in this year’s Budget – in 2015 – is a renewed commitment to deliver on the Pacific Highway and that final investment and that final timetable so the missing section of the Pacific Highway duplication is funded this year.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible)

 ALBANESE: There’s no doubt it’s a matter of priorities and it’s a priority to save travel time but also to save lives on the Pacific Highway. It’s not good enough for the National Party MPs to turn up at openings such as the Sapphire to Arrawarra section. They have to actually put in the investment and not just talk. And they know that for 12 years the former Coalition Government neglected the need for new investment for the Pacific Highway. With the return of the Coalition, we’ve seen as a return of that neglect.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible)

 ALBANESE: The final sections that are needed for investment are between Ballina and Woolgoolga or Arrawarra where the current new section has been completed. To the south of Coffs Harbour construction is underway on the missing sections that was fully funded by previous Budgets of the former Labor Government. What is needed is new investment. The Coalition now, more than a year into office, has not put a single new dollar into the Pacific Highway. It is simply not good enough for them to take people for granted here on the North Coast.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

 ALBANESE: They need to invest in the Pacific Highway. In this year’s Budget it’s got to be an absolute priority to complete the full duplication of the Pacific Highway to save travel time but also to save lives.

 QUESTION: Under your watch, what would happen?

 ALBANESE: Under our watch we’ll return the Pacific Highway to a top priority – the top priorities for regional roads have to be the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. We have a record of investment. It’s shown with this new section between Sapphire and Arrawarra here on the NSW north coast, that we didn’t just talk the talk. We put real money into building projects that created real jobs and are making a real difference.

 QUESTION: (Inaudible – relates to proportion of funding to road projects provided by commonwealth and states.)

 ALBANESE: Well of course it is 50-50 now. The sections which are under construction such as Frederickton to Eungai, such as the section around Urunga are all funded on a 50-50 basis agreed to by the Federal Government and the State Government. What the National Party is doing now is letting their state National Party colleagues off the hook and because they’ve got that 50-50 investment in the existing construction projects, they don’t have to invest any money into the future projects. That simply isn’t good enough.

 QUESTION: The Minister for Tourism couldn’t buy a coffee in Coffs Harbour yesterday. Obviously tourism is very important.

 ALBANESE: Tourism is vital for Coffs Harbour and the North Coast region and we need to make sure that we give the proper support to the tourism industry. It is Australia’s second-largest service export. It’s a huge creator of over a million jobs here in Australia and Australia doesn’t even have a federal tourism minister. It’s not good enough. The Federal Government has to prioritise tourism. They could start by appointing a tourism minister.

 QUESTION: How do we open up tourism on a public holiday in Coffs Harbour?

 ALBANESE: In terms of the tourism sector we need to provide that support for jobs. Here in Coffs people expect to be able to have access to those services no matter which day it is on and it’s important that people do have access to those services.

 QUESTION: Are penalty rates the reason why Coffs Harbour was closed yesterday?

 ALBANESE: I think that in terms of penalty rates people would expect that if you are going to attract workers to give up their time on days like Christmas day and New Year’s Day then you pay a little bit extra for those workers. People do expect that that will be the case.

 QUESTION: What do you think of the reports that the doctor has told Tony Abbott he should stop riding his bike?

 ALBANESE: Tony Abbott likes to stay fit and that’s a good thing. My question though, is whether he’s fit to actually lead the country. Yesterday in his answer in front of the Australian and Indian cricket teams – where he said he can’t bat, he can’t bowl and couldn’t field, he could only sledge –  to me that says a lot about the way he runs the country. It appears he runs the country the way that he used to play cricket – not actually doing anything constructive, just sledging.

 QUESTION: Inaudible. (Relates to Abbott Government funding cuts to welfare organisations)

 ALBANESE: Just before Christmas we know that organisations such as peak bodies looking after deaf people, looking after homelessness services – were all cut in terms of their funding. And we now find revealed today that in the fine print, just before Christmas, the Government has stopped its plan to give proper tax treatment of foreign companies at cost of some half a billion dollars to the Budget. A $500 million cut for overseas companies but a cut to the funding services dealing with important issues such as Deaf Australia, dealing with Down Syndrome, dealing with homelessness services. All of those peak organisations having cuts says a lot about this government’s priorities.

 QUESTION: The Coalition says your promises to the highway were never funded.

 ALBANESE:  Our commitment to the highway was not only funded, but resulted in real jobs being created, real construction. People are driving on it right now, such as between Sapphire and Arrawarra, the Ballina Bypass, the Kempsey Bypass with Australia’s longest bridge, the Glenugie Upgrade, the Banora Point upgrade, for work that is now under construction – Frederickton to Eungai – was all funded by the former Labor Government. What we’ve seen from them is just excuses and being prepared to try to take credit by re-announcing what already exists in budgeted projects.

ENDS

Dec 18, 2014

Transcript of press conference on East-West Link

Subjects: East-West Link, Infrastructure Australia, Perth Freight Link, public transport, infrastructure, Martin Place siege, gun control, George Christensen 

ALBANESE: Today I’ve written to the Commonwealth Auditor-General to demand that he conduct an inquiry into the farce that has become the funding by the Commonwealth Government of the East-West Link in Victoria.

What we know from documents that have been released this week by the Victorian Government is that this project simply doesn’t stack up. The cost-benefit analysis that was done by the Victorian Government for this toll road project showed a benefit of 0.45. What that means is 45c of benefit for every dollar that’s invested. That is a shocker of a project.

What’s worse is that then the Victorian Government, according to these documents, which are its own, decided to keep that information from Infrastructure Australia because they knew that anyone who has a look at this will say this project doesn’t stack up.

Now in spite of that Tony Abbott and the Federal Coalition promised $3 billion for this project and put it in the Budget in May.

What’s worse is that they made an advance payment of $1.5 billion for this road. $1.5 billion at a time when they say there was a budget emergency, but put forward for a project with a benefit of 45c return in every dollar. Put forward for a project that these documents show would have taken over 50 years to pay back. Put forward for a project which these documents show 9 out of 10 vehicles would have suffered more congestion if this road had have been built than if things stay as they are at the moment – an extraordinary proposition.

They didn’t just commit the $3 billion in the budget. They took it from projects that had been assessed by Infrastructure Australia – the Melbourne Metro rail project where $40 million had been spent making sure there was a proper business case and a proper plan, the M80 road project in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, which is underway and has a positive cost-benefit analysis, and even the Managed Motorways project, including on the Monash Freeway, where you had a cost-benefit analysis of 5.2, or $5.20 return for every dollar invested.

The Victorian Government made a conscious decision not to tell Infrastructure Australia and the Abbott Government made a conscious decision not to ask. So they funded this through this don’t-tell-don’t-ask policy, this dud project, whilst not funding projects that we know stacked up.

Tony Abbott since then has insisted that the Victorian Government should break its promise or it will lose $3 billion in funding, when we actually know they took more than that off existing projects if you add up the Melbourne Metro, the M80 and Managed Motorways projects from the Victorian Government. So he wants to punish Victorian voters for voting Labor at the last election and electing Daniel Andrews as Premier.

This is in spite of the fact that Tony Abbott repeatedly told the House of Representatives and anyone who would listen that this state election was a referendum on the East-West Link. They are his words, not ours, and he needs to accept the outcome that was there.

This also draws attention to Tony Abbott’s approach to infrastructure. He promised that he’d be a builder. We haven’t seen any bulldozers, just bulldust – a series of re-announcements around the country, pretending that projects are new when they’re already under construction.

Even the Majura Parkway project, which every politician passes to and from the airport he pretended was somehow a new project. We’ve seen re-announcements, renaming of existing projects pretending that they’re new, reallocation of funds from public transport where every dollar has been removed,  public transport projects that stacked up to fund road projects to fund road projects that don’t.

It’s as simple as that. When it comes to infrastructure, his credibility has been obliterated by this fiasco around the East-West Link.

QUESTION: Have Victorians dodged a bullet?

ALBANESE: Victorians will have a look at this and say we knew there were problems because they wouldn’t release the business case. It’s not just Victoria where that’s happening. We haven’t seen the full business case for the Perth Freight Link project, for Westconnex, and that’s why you need this transparency.

You need transparency so the public can have confidence that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively. We created Infrastructure Australia to break the nexus between the short term political cycle and the long term infrastructure investment cycle. That’s why we funded all 15 Infrastructure Australia projects that were recommended.

This East-West Link was not recommended by Infrastructure Australia and this is a case study in what not to do. If you want to see what can go wrong – just have a look – academics will be studying this universities around Australia from next year into the future. If you want an example of what not to do with a project, this is it.

QUESTION: What do you expect to get out of the Auditor-General’s report, if in fact he goes ahead?

ALBANESE: It should go ahead. The Auditor-General has a responsibility in my view, to look at the use of taxpayer’s funds. The Auditor-General needs to have a look at what the Government’s policy is. The Government’s stated policy is two things.

One, that projects of value above $100 million need to be assessed by Infrastructure Australia and that there will be a published cost-benefit analysis. That didn’t occur.

Their other policy is that in order to avoid money being shovelled out, milestone payments need to be made upon the achievement of construction targets as a project is constructed.

If that is so, how is it that a billion and a half dollars was forwarded last financial year for a project the Stage 2 of which wasn’t due to commence for many years into the future? That is bad fiscal policy under any circumstances.

Under the circumstances when you’ve got a budget of broken promises, massive cuts to pensions, the ABC, the SBS, cuts to health, cuts to every dollar of public transport, why is it that all this was occurring but a billion and a half dollars could be found as an advance payment without any business case being presented for the East-West Link project?

QUESTION: What do you make of the 30-page summary on the Perth Freight Link and do you think what’s gone on with the East-West Link means it is now beholden on the Government to come forward with the full cost-benefit analysis?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. This is a summary. There’s a lesson here. If you have a look at the documentation from Victoria, what’s extraordinary is the explicit decisions being made to keep information from Infrastructure Australia, to keep information from the former federal government in which I was the minister.

Conscious decisions – minutes being taken saying don’t tell Anthony Albanese or Infrastructure Australia what we’ve found because then it will present issues with regard to funding. So we’ll just release what’s convenient without any of the work around it. What this shows is that the full business case for all projects has to be released.

With regard to Perth Freight Link they can’t even say what the toll will be on the project. So how can you have a cost-benefit analysis without knowing what your revenue stream will be from the toll that is anticipated to be put on that project?

I mean, when we asked about this, when this was funded in the May Budget, the parliamentary secretary in Western Australia said that there wasn’t any case or documentation worthy of any public scrutiny that they were in a position to release.

This came as surprise and this stands in stark contrast to projects like the Gateway WA Project, where proper cost-benefit analysis was done. We know what the benefit will be. It’s employing thousands of people in Perth and providing a real difference to Perth.

The Roe 8 project – this is just another example where they’ve just changed the name – the Roe 8 project has previously been considered by the government and it ended up that they walked away from it. So we need to know why it is that the business case has changed if it has. That’s why all the documentation needs to be released for this project.

QUESTION: inaudible (relating to gun laws and the Martin Place siege)

ALBANESE: At the heart of this is that we need to make sure that politics doesn’t get in the way of federal and state authorities making their investigations as is appropriate at a time like this. I don’t intend making any political points. I intend waiting until the proper investigations and the facts are known and then people can make an assessment and when they make that assessment it is very important that this be an issue that is above partisan politics.

QUESTION: What is your opinion?

ALBANESE: My opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is the opinion of experts. What matters is that people don’t just talk so they get a grab as part of a news bulletin. This is an enormous tragedy. I went and visited Martin Place yesterday as a citizen of Sydney and the outpouring of grief was quite extraordinary and my heart goes out to the two families that have been affected by the tragedy.

QUESTION: What do you make of Senator David Leyonhjelm’s comments about gun control?

ALBANESE:  I think he would have been well kept to take the previous advice I’ve just given. I heard him on radio this morning and why he chose this particular time to intervene so he gets a grab up and gets some publicity… I understand that minority parties need to sort of get themselves out there and get a bit of media coverage. But you know, he should really think about it and think about whether it is appropriate for him to be playing that card to try and get publicity. I am a supporter of gun laws in this country. I think that one of the things that John Howard did that I totally agree with was his response to the Port Arthur gun massacre. Australians know less guns means less victims.

QUESTION: What about George Christensen’s criticism of the hashtag I’ll ride with you?

ALBANESE: Well, George Christensen. You know, seriously. I’ll play at my own level, thanks.

 

Dec 10, 2014

Transcript of radio interview ABC 702 Sydney

Subject: Mike Baird’s sell-off of Millers Point social housing

LINDA MOTTRAM: Anthony Albanese, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Linda.

MOTTRAM: This is politically hot, the Liberals sell off public holdings, recycling the capital, Labor oppose it. That’s really the problem with this story, isn’t it?

ALBANESE: The problem is two-fold. One is the impact on the individuals. The lack of respect shown to a gentleman who lives in a house for 84 years and gets an eviction notice just shunted under their door without notice. The uncertainty that families are facing prior to Christmas. What is important about this analysis by SGS Planning is that it looks at the impact on the productivity of a city and the impact of having an approach taken to its logical conclusion which is you sell housing where the value of that housing is greater than the average of the inner city. So the logic of selling Millers Point would also point you toward selling the housing that’s on Sydney’s North Shore, the Glebe Estate, the public housing in Redfern, Waterloo, Woolloomooloo, and the impact that it has on a city’s productivity. What the research says is that the city needs a mix. That successful cities economically are those that are socially inclusive, that contain suburbs that have a mix of incomes in them. There are some real social reasons why you want that but there are also economic reasons. If you exclude people of lower incomes from the inner city then in terms of the work that needs to be conducted – in childcare, in cleaning, the work that takes place – you won’t have a workforce that doesn’t have to travel to do that and that doesn’t make any sense in terms of long term productivity of the city.

MOTTRAM: Ok and this report says that it could actually be a negative for the city if it goes in that direction. But what is to say that a government could not address that by providing the appropriate mix of housing reinvested in the inner city area as well as in other areas?

ALBANESE: It points towards that Linda and this is a very pragmatic report. I call upon the Baird Government to really give this proper consideration. What you have in Millers Point is some houses that are very large that have high maintenance costs, and this report does suggest there is a case for selling off that housing, but for reinvesting the money into social housing in the area. The logic of the Baird Government’s position is undermined by the sale of housing such as the Sirius building which people would be familiar with – as they cross the Harbour Bridge – there’s those wonderful houses that look like Lego boxes –purpose built social housing for people with disabilities and other special needs. If you just sell that off and it’s replaced by people who can afford that level of private housing then you lose those people from the community but you also lose what is a contributor to having that affordable housing mix in the inner city.

MOTTRAM: But it’s not as if the Baird Government doesn’t have a view on the need for affordable housing. I’ve spoken to state ministers before who have said yes, that’s part of what we’re looking at, making sure that we can provide affordable and social housing in the places that we need them.  Presumably as you’ve read this report, as we’ve all had these discussions about the mix of our cities – any sensible government would go down that path?

ALBANESE: They’re not being sensible, that’s the point. What they’re doing is selling off housing at Millers Point and not giving people any certainty other than that they’ll be moved somewhere else. They’re not talking about reinvesting in the city; they’re talking about people being shifted out with that uncertain future that those residents face in the lead up to Christmas.   Now, if this was an example of public policy that the Government was proud of they wouldn’t be having these secret auctions that take place almost James Bond style where you have to get a special code and go to a place –

MOTTRAM: But that’s a commercial reality isn’t it, because it’s in the hands of commercial salespeople.

ALBANESE: No, that’s being driven by the government. The commercial reality would be that the commercial interests would be out there wanting as many people as possible to participate. That’s not the way this is being run, Linda.

MOTTAM:  Ok, Millers Point has been very contentious. We know that, and all those discussions about the social effects – they’ve been terribly tragic stories. But cities, just to argue the case, cities have to undergo change. People are moved out of inner city areas all the time in cities. It’s happened before. It’s happened here before. In this city before, under governments of your side. We can’t keep things stationary, and there is a huge demand, I mean 58,000 people on the waiting list.

ALBANESE:  What you can’t have are enclaves of advantage and disadvantage. That is a recipe for disaster. And we know in the past indeed – where you have concentrations of social disadvantage, concentrations of social housing where people didn’t have jobs, the former state governments of both persuasions it must be said intervened to make sure there was a mix of housing in that area. The whole community housing movement arose out of that need for a mix of people so that a city functions effectively. That’s important socially. We have people in Millers Point who’ve lived for generations, who’ll be moved away from their social connections. There will be a cost to that. If you don’t have the neighbour who knocks on the door and checks on how you are, then we’ve had some really tragic examples in this city unfortunately of people being found a long time after they’ve passed away because they’re totally isolated from their community.

MOTTRAM: But that’s also happened where people have lived in their communities where people have lived for a long time when the community has changed around them, and it is terribly unfortunate, but the sad fact is still the hard economic one from the government’s perspective. I wonder if Labor in government wouldn’t do the same thing – that there is a lot of money tied up in Millers Point.

ALBANESE: This report does suggest that some sell-off of housing is appropriate. It doesn’t argue for no change. It argues the economic case for making sure that change is managed in a way that benefits not just looking after the individuals and pays them some respect. It also makes sure that the interests long term economically of the city are looked after. As the Shadow Minister for Cities that’s one of the things I’m very concerned about, what makes a successful city. In the United States you had a retreat from the inner cities and you had these gated communities and now you’ve had people move back into the inner city, and public policy makers decided that essentially in order to be successful you needed that inclusion and the inner city is made up of a mix of housing. Places like the Glebe estate and Woolloomooloo are really important. When I’ve shown people who’ve been visiting from overseas the serious social housing there at the Rocks and said, that’s what makes Australian an egalitarian society, we don’t have a class based society that’s not entrenched in the same way as say the UK is, that’s an important thing we should hold on to.

 

 

Nov 26, 2014

Transcript of radio interview -Radio National Breakfast, ABC

Subjects: Medicare co-payment, Abbott’s barnacles, paid parental leave, Budget, East-West Link, infrastructure

FRAN KELLY: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Anthony Albanese, welcome back to Breakfast.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, Fran.

KELLY: We’re going to get to the Victorian election in a moment and that letter from the Prime Minister about the funding for the East-West Link, but can I ask you first about the Medicare co-payment. Has the Opposition seen any sign, have there been any discussions or any understanding that the co-payment’s going to be dropped, or that the Government’s not going to bring it into the Senate and have another go?

ALBANESE: The problem here isn’t that there are barnacles on the ship. The problem is the captain. Everything Tony Abbott does with regard to this Budget has just reinforced that it’s a budget of broken promises. He’s now trying to say he didn’t do that famous interview on SBS TV. With regard to the GP tax, Australians don’t want it. Australians support the universality of Medicare.  They know deep down that this $7 GP tax would be a first step and it would rise in the future. They know in their heart of hearts Tony Abbott, just like John Howard, just doesn’t like Medicare, that they don’t support the principle of universality, that people pay through the tax system and then get healthcare according to need.

KELLY: If the Prime Minister does move to cut off these barnacles, let’s call them,  drop these policies, and Labor still remains there blocking a number of other policies that come up, are you concerned that Labor can be the one that the voters start turning their negative attention to because we did hear from the head of Treasury, Martin Parkinson yesterday on the program who said again that Australia has a revenue problem, I think there’s no dispute about that, but he says our biggest  problem is spending. In other words, he says that some of these policies in the Budget that are proposed to cut spending are really what’s required, we need to get our spending in check. Do you agree with that?

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott is proposing more spending. He’s proposing a paid parental leave scheme that’ll impact the Budget by $20 billion over a four year period of the budget estimates. All he’s talking about now is modifying it. Tony Abbott has rejected revenue measures such as making sure that the top end who use superannuation as a way of evading their proper contribution to the sustainability of the Australian economy, he got rid of that. So they have a real credibility problem here Fran. Of course budgets always have to have savings measures in them – we had that. What this government did as one of its first acts was double the deficit through measures like removing the changes to superannuation at the top end that we had, through removing some of the tax avoidance measures for corporate tax evasion that we’d put in place –

KELLY – yeah, but talking about credibility problems that’s what Tony Abbott used to say about Labor, you have a credibility problem, and I’ve noticed the Coalition has now started to remind people through the Parliament of some of the issues that beset the Rudd-Gillard Governments. Wayne Swan as Treasurer for example, promising Budget surpluses that never came about. Credibility has been a problem for your side of politics as well.

ALBANESE: Government isn’t as easy as they thought it was, is it Fran? They had a plan to get into government. They don’t have a plan to govern. The hypocrisy of Joe Hockey speaking about revenue write-downs – we had revenue write-downs due to the Global Financial Crisis. Australia weathered that global financial crisis better than any of our international competitors. And at the same time – to segway into the topic of my choice, of infrastructure – in government we went from 20th in the OECD for infrastructure investment to 1st for infrastructure investment.

KELLY: Let me come to infrastructure, you are the Shadow Minister, that is true. On the Victorian Election, the East-West road link is really one of the key issues for voters to choose on. There is a clear difference between the parties. The PM has now written to Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews saying and I quote “I want to make it absolutely clear to the people of Victoria that the $3 billion the Commonwealth has committed is for one purpose only and that is to build the East-West Link.  Let me repeat, the $3 billion is only available to build the East-West Link.” In other words, Labor’s promise to scrap that contract if it wins – it’s the Prime Minister’s right isn’t it to dictate how the $3 billion in federal money is spent?

ALBANESE: What he’s attempting to do is not so much to intimidate the Victorian Labor Party, he’s trying to intimidate Victorian voters. He’s saying, if you elect Labor you won’t get your fair share of infrastructure dollars.

KELLY: Well you won’t get $3 billion from the East-West Link to be spent somewhere other else.

ALBANESE: Let’s be clear here about the timeframes. The Government in which I was a Minister entered into an agreement – we sat down, we had discussions with Transport Minister Mulder, with officials from Premier and Cabinet – and we agreed on a process of funding the Melbourne Metro. $3 billion from the federal government, $3 billion from the state government, and then we had a proposal that had attracted interest from private sector funding in addition to that. What occurred was that then we got Tony Abbott, who has this view, as he outlines in Battlelines, that simply there is no role for public transport. He says, quite simply, that “there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads”.  That is what his view of the world is. So therefore, the Victorian Government went along with their Coalition colleagues, in spite of the fact that the Melbourne Metro had a positive CBA, in spite of the fact that $40 million had already been contributed and had funded the planning for this project, they came up with the East-West project  that still has not been assessed by Infrastructure Australia, that doesn’t have a published cost-benefit analysis, that the only analysis that has been published of it said there would be a return of fifty cents and at most eighty cents for every dollar that was invested. And then the Abbott Government this year, you spoke before about Budget emergencies. Well let me tell you what, Fran. There is $1.5 billion sitting in the Victorian Government’s bank account for a project in which there has not been so much as a hole dug.

KELLY: Alright Anthony Albanese thank you very much for joining us.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: [email protected]

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