Issues: Completion of F5 Widening project; Queensland Election; Tony Abbott’s relentless negativity and lack of policy; Federal Labor’s Nation Building agenda & Queensland
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. I’m here today with Chris Patterson, the State Member for Camden representing the NSW Government, to officially open the widening of the F5 here between Ingleburn and where we are now in Raby. It goes to the north and to the south of where we are.
This has been a vital project for South West Sydney. This is the beginning of the Hume Highway. While construction has occurred, we’ve created some 135 jobs, but in the longer term, delivered big productivity benefits for the nation.
The Federal Government contributed $93 million to this project, the State Government $23 million, a total of $116 million for this vital nation-building project.
This is a part of the Federal Government’s $12 billion commitment to NSW infrastructure through the Nation Building Program. We’ve doubled the roads budget, we’re building better rail facilities, and we’re engaged in a nation-building agenda right across the board, in ports, roads, rail and of course through the National Broadband Network.
So I’m very pleased to say that this is a project which has been good for short-term jobs in South West Sydney but also good in terms of easing urban congestion for the some 80,000 cars that use this road each and every day.
So it’s very positive.
This is an example of cooperation between the Federal Government and the NSW Government, and I congratulate all those in RMS who’ve delivered this project on budget and on time.
CHRIS PATTERSON: Thank you. Just on behalf of the NSW Government, I welcome the Minister here and thank the Federal Government. This has been a tremendous example of state and federal governments working together for a great outcome for our area.
This area we’re in now is without a doubt one of the biggest growth areas in NSW and the roads are without a doubt are the main part of infrastructure that we need to get right.
So this is a great example, and as the minister has said, some 80,000 people use this road daily, and anything that helps clear the congestion on our roads is most welcome in our area.
QUESTION: The only thing I want to ask about is the Queensland election.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Sure.
QUESTION: A big savaging for the Labor Party, do you think?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the Queensland election was a resounding victory for Campbell Newman. I have certainly have congratulated Campbell Newman on the outcome. We live in a great democracy. We’ve got to respect the outcomes.
I certainly also pay tribute to Anna Bligh who as Premier saw Queensland through the Global Financial Crisis and also through last year’s natural disasters.
I think Anna Bligh is entitled to the respect of all for what she achieved. She was also, of course, was the first woman to be elected in her own right at a general election as the leader of a state. And I think Anna Bligh can regard her career with a great deal of pride.
I worked very closely with Anna Bligh and the Queensland Government in delivering major infrastructure for Queensland.
I have also had a good relationship with Campbell Newman when Lord Mayor of Brisbane. The National Government worked with the Brisbane City Council to deliver the largest ever co-investment project between a national government and a local government in Australia’s history, the Legacy Way.
So I look forward to sitting down with Campbell Newman in the future and having further discussions, but I certainly congratulate him on his election.
QUESTION: Do you think it is appropriate that the Premier quit when she was one of only seven [inaudible]. Is it appropriate that Anna Bligh stood down the day after the election?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that’s a decision for Anna Bligh. But I think Anna Bligh certainly has indicated that it was, as she saw it, appropriate for her to step aside, given the nature of the result on Saturday.
I certainly think that’s a decision that should be respected.
QUESTION: Tony Abbott today has said it’s the issue of trust and that’s what the federal implications are in Queensland, that it’s a breach of an election promise, it becomes electoral poison. What would you say to those comments?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What I’d say is that Labor was in office for 20 of the last 22 years. That is a long time in terms of Australia’s political history. That’s an extraordinary length of success for Queensland Labor.
Queensland Labor got across the line in 2009 under circumstances whereby the LNP was a bit of a mess for a long period of time, which I think had probably driven down their vote – that lack of unity and lack of any sense of purpose.
So it is a fact that the result is what it is. It has to be respected. It is extraordinary. It’s an outcome of the electoral system that, in spite of Labor winning a much higher percentage of the vote, they have very few seats. But that’s the way it’s operated for some period of time, so it has to be respected.
QUESTION: So you’re predicting that [inaudible] that a breach of trust might, you know, in way that has happened on a Federal level, might have serious consequences?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Tony Abbott will be out there spinning away, as he does with every single issue. What Tony Abbott’s got to do is actually come up with a policy, any policy will do.
Yesterday we saw Tony Abbott coming out with something whereby if people read the headlines over his issue of child care, they might think that he actually has a policy on something. But when they read the details, what they found was an aspiration and an inquiry by the Productivity Commission.
Tony Abbott has to do something more than just say ‘no’ to everything.
QUESTION: And will you be spending more time in Queensland as a result of what Tony Abbott said this morning [inaudible]?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I went to Queensland 22 times last year. It’s a bit hard to go more than 22 times a year, given our parliamentary timetable.
I spent a lot of time in Queensland because the Federal Government is doing so much in Queensland: rebuilding the Bruce Highway; dealing with the pressure that’s there because of the mining boom; the Ipswich Motorway, more than $2.4 billion of Commonwealth Government money invested; the Pacific Motorway upgrade; the work that we’re doing on the Moreton Bay Rail Link; the Gold Coast light rail project.
So I’ve spent a lot of time in Queensland and I expect to continue to spend a lot of time in Queensland.
QUESTION: Does a result like this worry you in the lead-up to the Federal election?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Obviously it is the case that I would rather Labor win every seat at every election at Federal, state, territory and local level. The truth is though, the result has to be respected.
It’s not surprising that under the circumstances of 20 out of 22 years of Labor in government in Queensland, that they lost office. And historically in Queensland, when a swing happens, it happens big, and this is consistent with that. This is a very large swing.
Of course it’s disappointing for Labor people. That’s the truth of the matter, as it was disappointing when Labor lost office in NSW. But it was expected in NSW and it was expected in Queensland.