Subjects: Melbourne infrastructure; ‘Work, Places and People in Western Sydney’ report; Badgerys Creek rail; Stuart Ayers; Allianz Stadium; Olympic Park.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for joining us. I wanted to make some comments today about infrastructure and cities.
Firstly, to Melbourne. Malcolm Turnbull had a cricket team at his announcement yesterday about Melbourne infrastructure and the Commonwealth Government’s commitments.
What we saw yesterday was the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good was that Malcolm Turnbull is putting back some of the money that was cut from projects that have been funded when Labor was last in Government. Projects like the M80. Projects like the Managed Motorways program on the Monash Freeway.
The bad is that Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t seem to know where these infrastructure projects go. So he made a statement about the M80, the ring road in Melbourne, going between the port and the airport.
Of course, it goes nowhere near travelling from the port to the airport. It’s the outer ring road that was cut by the government of which he was a part in the 2014 Budget.
But more importantly is the incoherence in the government’s infrastructure plan. Malcolm Turnbull came to government defeating Tony Abbott in the Liberal Party saying he would fund public transport and that he would have a coherent infrastructure policy that dealt with congestion in our cities.
We know now from yesterday’s announcement that had no funding for the Melbourne Metro except for $10 million for further work for a study when the business case has already been completed.
When the issue of value capture has already been included in that business plan, it shows that Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to ride on trams in Melbourne, to ride on trains in Melbourne, but he’s not prepared to fund public transport in Melbourne.
At the same time, he has put aside $3 billion for the East West Link project that was rejected by the voters in Victoria. The last Victorian state election was, according to Tony Abbott, a referendum on the East West Link.
They voted for Daniel Andrews and his government. And yet, Malcolm Turnbull yesterday was still spruiking the East West Link project that we know has a benefit of 45 cents for every dollar invested.
It’s like someone coming along and asking you can they borrow $100 but next time they see you they’ll give you $45 back.
It’s a dud deal, it’s a dud project and the Prime Minister is locking up $3 billion of funding that should be used to create jobs. To create jobs in construction in the short term and to boost productivity in the long term.
And at a time where we need Australian-based steel to actually be used then if we actually had funding of rail projects then you find benefit for workers in Whyalla and workers around the country – if this was a federal government that was actually funding a public transport project of significance anywhere in the nation.
And here in Sydney we also see from a report released today by the University of Western Sydney from Professor Phillip O’Neil that there is a crisis in job creation in Western Sydney.
The creation of drive-in, drive-out suburbs where people can afford to live but where jobs aren’t going to be created needs to be addressed. This report today shows a job deficit of some 300,000 by the year 2036 if this is not addressed.
We need an urgent action plan to create jobs in Western Sydney, jobs closer to where people live.
And we need a Federal Government that’s actually concerned about infrastructure investment, that’s prepared to invest in public transport, that’s prepared to invest in creating jobs close to where people live in our major capital cities.
REPORTER: On the Western Sydney report, does a finding like that and the analysis underpinning it, does that really show that the WestConnex project is one that ultimately is not going to serve the city well?
ALBANESE: What it shows is that there is no coherent plan from the State Government. It needs to be about not taking more and more people into jobs that are created in the city.
Jobs need to be created closed to where people live. And that means giving support to Western Sydney employment through the employment zone.
It means making sure that Badgerys Creek airport from day one has public transport access, has a train operating from day one so that people can take advantage of the work that can take place.
Now, there’s a proposal from Penrith City Council who I met with just this week about science and innovation in that employment lands area. The state government and the federal government should listen to local leaders like Penrith City Council and their Mayor about the jobs that need to be created in Western Sydney.
But what’s very clear is that it’s simply unsustainable to continue to argue that all the jobs can be created in and around the CBD of our capital cities and transport links all headed toward there particularly in terms of roads.
This report identifies road congestion as a major issue now but an even worse issue in the future. And the government, with its incoherent plan for the WestConnex project that has blown out from $10 billion to $16.8 billion shows that they simply haven’t thought these issues through.
REPORTER: Are you saying there should be a high speed rail link from Badgerys Creek to the city?
ALBANESE: There should be a rail link and the most obvious thing to do is to create a rail link on the north-south corridor in Western Sydney. That’s what Penrith City Council when I met with them this week was suggesting.
A rail link from Campbelltown up to the north-west, through Badgerys Creek airport, through the employment lands and up to the north-west precinct. Because that would ensure that jobs could be created along that corridor where people live.
The jobs can’t all be created from the city. And that’s really what today’s report identifies. The obsession with what just happens in the city is also shown, I think, by the incomprehensible plan of Sports Minister Stuart Ayers here in Sydney.
He wants to knock over Allianz Stadium, build a stadium on public land in Moore Park next to it, knock over buildings that are new, like Rugby League Central that was funded by the former Federal Labor Government – and that is certainly an up to date facility – and ignore the needs of ANZ Stadium in the Olympic Park precinct which is far closer to where most people in Sydney live.
That is an extraordinary proposal that does not make any sense and the federal government does have a role in this because the Commonwealth, under the former Labor Government, funded the Rugby League Central building which Stuart Ayers wants to just knock over.
I’m not sure what kind of fantasy this Minister is living in, but it’s pretty clear he’s not up to the job, and for the Member for Penrith to ignore what is happening in Homebush, an Olympic precinct which he has responsibility for, is quite extraordinary.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.