Subject: South Road funding, Peter Dutton, Bill Shorten, vehicle emissions, Fraser Anning.
NADIA CLANCY: I’m Nadia Clancy. I’m Labor’s Candidate for the Federal seat of Boothby, and I’m really excited today to have Anthony Albanese and Peter Malinauskas with me to talk about Labor’s commitment to fixing South Road.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Nadia. It’s great to be here in Boothby with Nadia Clancy, our Candidate, and with Peter Malinauskas, the Leader of South Australian Labor. And of course, last time we were in Government, we partnered to fix South Road. We did South Road Superway – an extraordinary project identified as the most critical section. But we then went on to begin construction on Torrens to Torrens that was actually held up by the Federal Government that said that it needed to be done after Darlington. The fact is what we need to do is fix this entire road. And we need to fix it in an orderly way; in a way that ensures that the funding flows; in a way that ensures that savings can be made by having one section done one after the other and making sure that we get the planning and pre-construction work done as soon as possible.
In last week’s Budget, you had a very big number announced for infrastructure for South Australia – some $2.6 billion. Both sides are committed to investing $2.7 billion in total on South Road to complete the duplication and upgrade. But when you look at the fine detail that was confirmed in Senate Estimates, there’s just $95 million of that $2.6 billion of new investment available over the Forward Estimates, over the next four years. It’s quite farcical. And it’s typical of what this government has done. In so many projects right around the country when it comes to infrastructure, they’ve made what used to be, of course, announcements about what would happen in the next year and then giving a foresight over the following four years. They’ve made announcements over ten years which means that you’ve got to elect Scott Morrison on May 18. Then you’ve got to elect whoever replaces him because their leaders don’t tend to last out a term. And then you’ve got to elect someone else before you get any real action on this important infrastructure project.
What Federal Labor will do, and we’re announcing today, is we’ll bring forward that $95 million. We’ll make it available straight away in addition to all the money that’s already been allocated in previous Budgets. And we’ll sit down with the South Australian Government, which hasn’t been getting a fair shake under the Federal Coalition Government, and work out a timeframe to see what further funding can be brought forward in order to get this construction done. The fact is that South Australia has been short-changed. They’ve been there for two years. All they’ve done is complete projects which Labor had already underway, and then to advance projects like Darlington that they haven’t been able to complete. If you look at what we did last time we were in government – the South Road Superway, the Northern Expressway, the Noarlunga to Seaford Rail Extension. We commenced work on the Gawler Line electrification. We did Goodwood to Torrens Freight Project. We did major infrastructure projects right around South Australia, but particularly here in Adelaide.
The Government’s urban congestion fund is confined just to marginal seats. What we want to make sure as well is that urban congestion needs to be dealt with right across this city of Adelaide, because unless it’s dealt with, then the cost to the economy, the cost to jobs, and the cost of frustration for motorists will continue to increase. And that’s why as a first step we’ll bring forward this funding, and make it available immediately. Thank you.
PETER MALINAUSKAS: Thanks Albo. Let me just start by saying how grateful I am as a leader within South Australia for Nadia Clancy’s advocacy to Federal Labor to bring forward this funding. The fact that Anthony Albanese has been able to make that firm commitment this morning is good news for South Australia on two fronts. Firstly when it comes to jobs, and secondly when it comes to this critical piece of infrastructure on South Road.
I think South Australians are starting to appreciate that there is a big distinction between brand Liberal and brand Labor when it comes to infrastructure projects. We’ve seen the Liberal Party talk a really big game, but not actually do anything when it comes to delivering the critical work that is needed to see this South Road project completed. During the last term of State Labor between 2014 and 2018, we saw the Northern Connector, the Darlington Project and the Torrens to Torrens Project just in that four years, see the funding announced, the design work done, the contracts commence, and then the works themselves actually commence, all within a four year period.
Yet Steven Marshall and Rob Lucas are saying that they expect the people of South Australia to vote for the Federal Coalition at two more Federal Elections, the State Election as well before they start doing any work at all. Steven Marshall and Rob Lucas say that South Australians should wait until 2022 before we start seeing any serious work on South Road. That’s four years of unnecessary delay. And it also means setting up South Australia for an infrastructure valley of death when it comes to these critical construction jobs that we desperately need in our state’s economy. I’m very grateful for the fact that Federal Labor is more interested in actually doing the work rather than just talking the talk, and today’s announcement is a great example of that.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, Premier Marshall today has said the $111 million from the Morrison Government is available straight away. Yours is less than his, you’re actually coming under the Coalition promise.
ALBANESE: Well he needs to be able to read Budget papers.
REPORTER: He would say that about you too.
ALBANESE: If he reads Budget papers, what he’ll know is that the funding that he’s talking about there is the funding for Darlington and existing projects announced in previous Budgets. The Budget papers are very clear. And the Budget papers outline a ten year frame, and we got, through Budget Estimates, and we make it absolutely available, a year-by-year analysis of when that $2.6 billion is rolling out. I mean Premier Marshall has broken what was always seen as a cardinal rule in politics between Federal and State, which is never get between a Premier and a bucket of money. I’ll remind Premier Marshall if I’m sitting down with him that he actually doesn’t want additional funding for South Australia.
What we’re talking about is the $95 million of additional funding that was announced in the Budget, that is there outlined year-by-year in the Budget papers, and we’re bringing that additional funding on top of what was announced in previous Budgets forward for South Australia. And we’re doing that because Nadia Clancy is an advocate for bringing things forward, for bringing investment forward. Just like when I had to deal with South Australian Infrastructure Ministers, whether it was Pat Conlon or Tom Koutsantonis; they were advocates. They never said: “No, we don’t want funding brought forward’’. This Government frankly are failing to stand up for South Australians, whether it’s the Feds, with the existing member for Boothby, with her Peter Dutton for Prime Minister t-shirt on whilst undermining Malcolm Turnbull, or whether it be Steven Marshall.
I mean when you look at one of the smaller projects that’s been announced that’s relevant for here in Boothby is the Brighton Overpass Hove Level Crossing Upgrade – funding begins with $6 million in 2020-21. The following year there’s $19.5 million, the following year there’s $20 million, and in the following year there’s $40 million. So what we’re talking about here is five years to fix a level crossing, five years. We’ve built the South Road Superway in about that time. It was a bit more than level crossing. It was a major infrastructure project.
The fact is that South Australians are being short-changed. I’m surprised that Steven Marshall isn’t standing up for South Australia because the bloke behind me, Peter Malinauskas; if I went to him prior to a Federal Budget and said “Mate we’ve got this announcement, but probably you’ll be gone from politics before it ever flows”. And I’ll tell you what – I’d cop a gobful. What I wouldn’t cop is a thank you note from the Premier of South Australia. So it’s quite extraordinary that he is prepared to say: “Yep, great that we’ve got money for South Road. But don’t worry, send it in your own time, because these are issues aren’t that important.”
REPORTER: But it’s a fair call for him isn’t it to say: “Well we haven’t even started the project yet. What do we need the money for straight away? There’s nothing to spend it on.”
ALBANESE: If you look at infrastructure projects, go back and look at the footage of myself, Steve Georganas, and Kate Ellis at the Torrens to Torrens project. All the geo-technical work that has to be done, whether any properties need to be purchased along the route, all the planning work – all of that work has to be done. Putting contracts in place has to be done. What they’re doing at the moment is essentially a go-slow. And there’s another issue here, which is that the logical thing to do – as projects that were funded by the former government, the former Federal Labor Government in conjunction with South Australia are finished, what we should be putting in place by now is the call for tenders for the work on the next section. That’s the way that infrastructure works when it’s done in an orderly, successful way. That’s what we did by commencing South Road Superway construction was still underway, whilst we were doing the early work on Torrens to Torrens, whilst we were doing the very early works on Darlington. That’s the way the projects occur.
So, Steven Marshall has the opportunity. We will bring forward $95 million to be available immediately, rather than $95 million over four long years. That’s what’s available for them in the Budget. And what that means is that new construction and new activity won’t occur over that period.
MALINAUSKAS: Thanks very much Albo. Let’s just look at the facts. Rob Lucas and Steven Marshall are on the record as saying they won’t start this construction until 2020-22. That is four years – that is an entire term of government before they’re willing to start work on South Road. Now for comparison, if you compare that to 2014-18 with the last State Government. When it comes to Torrens to Torrens, Darlington and the Northern Connector, funding was announced, tenders were issued, design work was done and construction commenced all within a four year period.
Yet Steven Marshall and Scott Morrison want everyone to wait for another whole four years before they start doing any work. That timeline is utterly unacceptable. It amounts to a go-slow. It is an exercise in delay rather than delivery. And what South Australians really want is this South Road project to be completed. They also want to see all the people that work in infrastructure to be able to maintain employment over the next four years, rather than go on a three year sabbatical without work, and then start up again in 2020-22.
REPORTER: Just a couple of quick questions to Mr Albanese. Just on other matters …
ALBANESE: Could I make just one more point on that, which is that if you have a look at the Financial Review today. There is a report, and I’m sure covered in other media as well, a report from the International Monetary Fund. And what that body talks about is the dangers that are there for the Australian economy of a slowdown. And they call for bringing forward infrastructure funding. That’s precisely what we’re doing here today. We need to get on with this investment. The International Monetary Fund say so. Federal Labor says so. State Labor says so. The only people who say no are the State and Federal Coalition.
REPORTER: Just on another matter if you don’t mind Mr Albanese?
REPORTER: Have you had time to reflect on the Four Corners story last night, in particular of the revelations which were put forward, and anything related to Mr Dutton?
ALBANESE: Well certainly Minister Dutton has real questions to answer here. How it is that he ends up at a lunch, whereby the person who organised the lunch with Mr Huang, a former Coalition Member of Parliament and Minister, Santo Santoro, is on tape boasting that he can get access to the Federal Minister? And cash for access is something that is not on. And the fact that this took place, and the fact that Minister Dutton authorised Sam Dastyari to conduct private citizenship ceremonies is quite extraordinary. Certainly I’ve never done that. I’ve been in Parliament now for 23 years. I’ve never asked a Federal Labor or Coalition Immigration Minister: “Is it okay if I can just do special ceremonies?”
This is very unusual. Peter Dutton has I think a bit of a pattern of unusual behaviour. This is a bloke who Nicolle Flint wanted to make Prime Minister of Australia, when she supported the rolling of the elected Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. And I think that Nicolle Flint will be judged on this as well as other matters when the election comes around in May. And she’ll be judged on this as well – the $100 million a day that taxpayers are paying for, and being subjected to, which is advertising infrastructure that isn’t actually being built. It’s advertising an education program that isn’t actually being funded, and it’s advertising tax cuts that aren’t actually coming anytime soon.
REPORTER: Do you think the revelations highlight the need for some sort of Federal integrity agency?
ALBANESE: We support a Federal integrity agency, and we’re going to this election committed to it. The question is why is the Coalition not committed to a Federal integrity agency? There’s one that operates here in South Australia. There’s one that operates of course in various State Governments around. We are going to this election with a commitment for a Federal integrity agency. And this is precisely the sort of issue that an agency I’m sure would have a look at.
REPORTER: Should Peter Dutton resign?
ALBANESE: Well it’s up to Peter Dutton firstly to explain exactly what these circumstances are. But Peter Dutton certainly has been- I think- an extraordinary figure of this term. He’s disrupted the entire workings of government. He’s put himself before the people he is elected to represent. And I must say he’s put himself before the political interests of his own Party. Does anyone think that the Coalition wouldn’t be in a stronger position today if Peter Dutton hadn’t run for the Prime Ministership and wrecked his own Government with the support of people like Nicolle Flint?
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, just one for the record. If Bill Shorten fails in his quest to become Prime Minister, would you challenge for the Leadership of the party?
ALBANESE: We’re in this to win, for the record. We are campaigning to make Bill Shorten the Prime Minister of Australia. He’ll make a great Prime Minister. And I look forward to serving in his Government as the Minister for Infrastructure, and building things in transport, in cities, and regional development, as the Minister for Tourism. That’s the only job that I’m interested in.
REPORTER: Just one more question on Boothby itself. How do you think commuters who use their car in Boothby just about every day, probably as much if not more than most electorates? You see a lot of car yards down here. How do you think they’re going to respond or accept Bill Shorten’s emissions policy?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that we’re the only advanced economy in the world that has no emissions standards. And you know what they’ll think for themselves? They’ll be able to source this from Government Ministers, in particular Josh Frydenberg. They’ll think about the $500 a year in savings that they’ll make in their car if there are proper emissions standards here in Australia. That’s according to Josh Frydenberg. So there are big savings to be made. The fact is that this is a sensible policy. It’s one that is supported by a range of motoring organisations. It’s one that is sensible, and that is why we have adopted the US standards that come into place. We will consult with the sector upon coming into government about a timeframe and about how that will occur.
REPORTER: But a very modest car will cost a lot more.
ALBANESE: Well that’s not right. That’s not right. According to Josh Frydenberg, drivers will save $500 a year every year.
REPORTER: Just on another matter. Victoria Police have confirmed this morning that Senator Fraser Anning won’t be charged following the incident that saw him egged. Do you think that’s an appropriate course of action?
ALBANESE: I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on decisions of the police. And I won’t be doing that. I will say though on Senator Anning that his behaviour is reprehensible. He was condemned by both sides in the Senate, and we can have no truck with racism. For him to blame the victims of the right-wing terrorist attack in Christchurch for what occurred is quite frankly disgusting, and he’s been condemned. He hopefully has seen his last day as a Senator when June 30 comes around. He was never elected. He was an accidental Senator, but it’s a bit of a warning for not voting for extreme right-wing parties, whether they be his party, or whether it be One Nation.
And that’s why Labor is going to put One Nation and extreme right-wing parties last. That used to be of consensus in this country between those parties that seek to form government. John Howard had the courage to do so. It’s a pity that Scott Morrison doesn’t have the moral fibre to do the same thing. Thanks.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.