Subjects: AdeLINK, the need for public transport investment, urban congestion
ALBANESE: Thanks for joining us. The Federal Government, it seems, have discovered after four years that infrastructure investment is the key to growth. They are certainly right that investing in infrastructure, or investing in people through skills and training, are the key to future economic growth and jobs. And there’s no better project in South Australia to back in in next week’s Budget, than the AdeLINK light rail project. This would create a network across Adelaide that would create 2000 jobs in construction, but also improve the productivity and liveability of this great city. During the election campaign, Federal Labor committed to support this project and we’re now calling upon the Government to fund it in next week’s Budget.
The fact is; it’s been approved by Infrastructure Australia and put on its Priority List. This is a good project for the people of Adelaide in both the short term, in boosting construction, but also in the long term. It would boost small business along the routes that the light rail network would go and would improve the liveability and sustainability of this great city. So we support this project.
Next week is a test for Malcolm Turnbull and his Government. It is one thing for Malcolm Turnbull to travel on trains and take selfies. It’s another thing for him to fund them. And if every time Malcolm Turnbull took a selfie on a train or a tram there was another injection of funds into public transport then we would have solved urban congestion by now. It’s about time he didn’t just take selfies, but he actually put some dollars behind public transport.
When we were in office we funded the extension of the rail line with Noarlunga to Seaford and we also began the upgrade of the Gawler Line electrification. The Government should use next week’s Budget as well to put that money back into the Gawler Line electrification that they cut when they came to office.
REPORTER: It’s a nice line. It seems like it ticks all the right boxes with light rail, but if the Government approves it, do you then take responsibility and say it was all our idea?
ALBANESE: The fact is that this is about the people of Adelaide. And it’s about the national economy. The people of Adelaide will benefit from AdeLINK, but also the national economy will benefit as well.
This is a Government that has been told by the current Reserve Bank Governor, by his predecessor, by economists, by business, all saying this is a Budget whereby you should be investing in nation building infrastructure. This AdeLINK light rail project is critical for that. And that’s why it needs to be funded in next week’s Budget and, as well, they need to put the money back that they ripped out of the Gawler Line electrification. So this could benefit everyone in Adelaide, but it also produces a benefit for the national economy, and a benefit for, in the long run, the Government.
REPORTER: So is this a case of good debt that it’s good to get into; that this sort of project is something that’s just going to lift the economy so much that it’s worthwhile getting into?
ALBANESE: This has been a project that has been approved by Infrastructure Australia, it’s been well thought out. Adelaide is well suited to an expansion of the light rail network. The corridor such as the one that we see behind us, a link to the airport, and down Henley Beach Road to Henley Beach are good corridors that are suitable for an expansion of the light rail network. What we’ll see from this is a massive benefit to the economy of South Australia, but also to the national economy. And we’ll also see those jobs created in the short term; some 2000 jobs in construction. So one of the thing’s that the Government’s been told is that an investment in infrastructure, boosts demand in the short term, but also produces long term productivity benefits. This project ticks all the boxes and should be funded in next week’s Budget.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask one question? Steve, the issue obviously would be if you look at Henley Beach Road well you’d say it’s already got a lot of traffic on it; putting light rail does that help?
GEORGANAS: I think there are ways of doing it. I’ve spoken with the Treasurer here in South Australia and they’ve done studies. Certainly there will be things that need to be look at and studies to be done. But we’ve already got Richmond Road which is for heavier vehicles. We then have Sir Donald Bradman, which is for vehicles to the Airport, and you could have Henley Beach Road which is for good transport. What we know is that this project will di-congest traffic at Adelaide Airport. It will assist with traffic. It will assist people getting to destinations here in Adelaide, tourist destinations like Henley Beach, and certainly be very good for the economy and jobs. One of the most important things is that we can create 2,000 jobs that are needed here in South Australia.
JOURNALIST: The bottom line for the project, in terms of di-congestion, it is mainly what it will do for the Airport. Would that be a fair assumption?
GEORGANAS: It would also assist in other areas because people can hop on a tram and go down to the beach or the local pubs, and the local restaurants that we have springing up on Henley Beach Road. All you have to do is drive up Henley Breach Road and you see new restaurants opening up on a regular basis. So sometimes it will assist with the congestion because it help people get in, have a few drinks perhaps, and not worry about driving home.
ALBANESE: Can I say that the experience of new light rail projects around Australia, such as the Gold Coast Light Rail project, such as the Inner West Light Rail in Sydney, have meant that there have been less congestion along those routes, that local businesses have benefits from it and that it has greatly assisted the liveability in those communities. And that’s why the expansion of light rail is actually an international phenomenon. We met with the local government here in South Australia in Adelaide this morning, with the local mayors, with the CEO of the Airport; they’re very supportive because they know that this will lead to a boost in these local economies.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.