Subjects: Infrastructure funding, penalty rates, backpacker tax
JOSH WILSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FREMANTLE: Good morning everyone. It’s great to be here in Cockburn Central in the federal electorate of Fremantle, pretty close to the border between Fremantle and the seat of Burt. It’s fantastic to have Anthony Albanese, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport here to say something about how Labor is going to lead for the second time on the funding of this critical project Community Connect South.
This is not only one of the fastest growing parts of the Perth metro area, the fastest growing part of the Fremantle electorate, it’s one of the fastest growing parts of Australia and it has a congestion problem that needs to be fixed. Labor is leading the way to fund the solution for the second time, just as it’s leading the national debate in so many policy areas. It’s great to have Anthony Albanese here and I’ll let him say a few words about today’s announcement.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, thanks very much Josh and I also want to acknowledge Matt Keogh is here, the Labor candidate for Burt, Senator Sue Lines who is our lead Senate candidate in the Senate election and also I’m joined by state colleagues Roger Cook the Deputy Labor Leader, Fran Logan and Tony Buti and also the Mayor of Armadale, Henry Zelones and the Mayor of Cockburn, Logan Howlett. Look this is a fantastic announcement and it’s an announcement that’s consistent with Labor’s nation building agenda.
We are the party that build infrastructure. We’re the party that boost productivity and we are the party of jobs. Here in the southern part of Perth, what we have is enormous growth with these local communities. The Connect South campaign that’s been conducted by local government is one which has won through in terms of showing the importance of having connectivity between these communities.
Now the Armadale Road upgrade is absolutely critical and that was announced by both parties during the by-election for Canning and was included in the Budget and will be honoured by both political parties. The difference here is that unless this part of the bridge is fixed then it will be a road to congestion. You need both parts to fit together if we are truly going to address urban congestion which Infrastructure Australia assesses will cost $50 billion to the national economy by 2031 if left unaddressed. What’s more Infrastructure Australia addressed six of the ten worst congestion points as being right here in Perth. And that’s why federal Labor will commit $80 million to this project to make sure that congestion is defeated. It fits in as well consistently with our support for the Outer Harbour rather than the Perth Freight Link project which is a dud that doesn’t stack up, that’s going to c ost $2 billion and not yet have a plan of how to get across the river, let alone of how to deal with the freight task which we know requires an outer harbour from the State Government’s own documents.
So we announced yesterday support for that project. Today we announce a practical solution to something that has been fought for and argued for by the local government bodies in Armadale and Cockburn and I congratulate the mayors and the local communities on leading this campaign. I might ask Matt if he wants to say a couple of words.
MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BURT: It’s great to have Albo back in WA and in the southern suburbs of Perth for this announcement today. I’ve been working with the City of Armadale and the City of Cockburn now for over nine months about trying to get this project off the ground and was very proud to be able to get the Labor team to commit during the Canning by-election back in August to funding the Armadale Road duplication and Armadale bridge project. It took the Liberals nearly another month. They were dragged kicking and screaming to this project in that campaign in the dying days of the election and Mr Abbott’s prime-ministership. Today we have an announcement about investment in the bridge. This project has to work together, and it really demonstrates Labor’s commitment to the growing outer suburbs in Burt and Fremantle. We know that the suburbs of Piara Waters and Harrisdale are the epicen tre of housing growth in WA right now and it’s important to get this project off the ground as a complete project of a road and bridge. Not only will this relieve congestion and make the trip for the people in Armadale, Seville Grove, Haynes and Hilbert, Piara Waters and Harrisdale, make it a safer and quicker trip for them, this project will also relieve congestion on roads like Ranford Road and South Street and Nicholson Road as they go through Canning Vale and Thornlie, because what we’ve seen is that commuters from the southern end of Burt have been using those roads and avoiding the congestion at this intersection. So by fixing this up we’ll be resolving congestion throughout the seat of Burt. And this is a project that’s going to deliver over a thousand jobs. That’s really important in these outer suburbs where unemployment is currently very high and it will also deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into the local economy which is also critically important and that’s why I’m proud to be part of a Labor team that’s bringing forward this commitment to the duplication of Armadale Road and the building of the Armadale bridge and it’s all about Labor putting people first. Thank you.
ALBANESE: Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Just on another topic, on the backpacker tax, Labor said it would consult on the tax but why wouldn’t it just get rid of it altogether?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re calling upon the government to get rid of it. They could fix this right now, today. They should end the uncertainty that’s there because what we know is that as a result of this ill-thought out decision by the government, a decision with no notice at all, it’s already having an impact on our agricultural and our tourism sectors. That’s why the government should get rid of it, should get rid of it today, provide that certainty that is there.
JOURNALIST: During the Canning by-election you also announced $25 million for Denny Avenue in Kelmscott to shut the level crossing. Is that still on the cards?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. We stand by our commitments. One of the things that Labor does is we make commitments, we then put them in the budget, we then get things built. What the Opposition have done, I said yesterday in a press conference at the Gateway WA project, funded by federal Labor and the then State Labor government, no dollars in that project at all from the Coalition federally, that there wasn’t a single infrastructure project in WA that was underway that was initiated and funded by the current federal Labor government. Now, one of the many people who I shadow, because they’re at conflict with each other, there’s about five at last count, people in the government in charge of infrastructure, but that’s ok. One of them, Paul Fletcher, came out in a media release in social media and said that’s not right because we’re doing the north-west coastal highway and we’re doing Muchea to Wubin section of the Great Northern Highway. Well they were both funded in the 2013 budget, they were funded by federal Labor. Even when they have time to try to think of something, desperately think of something that they’ve begun, there’s just nothing there. They’ve spoken about infrastructure but they’ve ignored Western Australia. They’ve ripped $500 million out of public transport projects, they’ve put all the money aside, $1.2 billion of federal money aside for Perth Freight Link, which had never been raised by any state government, Labor or Coalition, with myself as the Infrastructure Minister. It wasn’t on the planning agenda, and guess what? More than two years later they haven’t dug a hole. Well, good infrastructure development is projects like this. Projects where the planning is done, that has the support of the local community, that can create jobs and I guarantee you this each of thos e commitments when I come back here, hopefully as the Infrastructure Minister, seeking another term, will be underway, under construction, creating jobs, creating economic activity here in Western Australia. At a time when the mining boom is coming off then it is extraordinary that the government hasn’t stepped in to fill that void. That’s when you should have increased investment. That’s when you should be stimulating the economy. That isn’t what they have done and it’s little wonder that the infrastructure spokespeople haven’t been anywhere near Western Australia and the Prime Minister flew in for a pit-stop yesterday, stayed for a fifteen or twenty minute press conference where he said nothing, couldn’t have the candidate next to him and then went away again. Well I’ve been here since Sunday, I’ve been here since Sunday because Labor has done so much and will do so much for Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: Peta Credlin is [inaudible] this morning saying that Malcom Turnbull is showing a bit of a trend here and not showing up with his local candidates. Do you think that’s correct and that we’re going to see a bit more of that?
ALBANESE: Well Peta Credlin’s just pointing out the obvious which is if you want to lead the country, you’ve got to front up. You’ve got to front up and engage with people. Malcolm Turnbull’s problem is, if he has a problem, if he moves west of Centennial Park in Sydney. That’s the problem. You know he goes to Penrith and then he has to run away and cancel press conferences with the candidate for Lindsay. He comes to the beautiful city of Perth and Freo in the great state of Western Australia and he spent ten times more time in his hotel room than he did meeting anyone. Indeed, he didn’t meet anyone at all, besides a few journos, he didn’t even meet his candidate. And that says it all I think about a campaign that is off the rails frankly after just nine days. Now Malcolm Turnbull might have some excuse, if someone else, you know maybe Tony Abbott or someone else who’s actu ally running the Liberal party had called the election. You’d think he didn’t know when the date was. I can’t, I’ve been through a lot of election campaigns, I think this is my eighth. I’ve been on the PM’s plane over to Perth in past campaigns. I’ve been, as Deputy Prime Minister been through a process whereby you work out an itinerary. The idea that you come to Western Australia for a fifteen minute press conference and don’t meet anyone is just beyond my comprehension. Everyone knows it. Peta Credlin has just stated the obvious to her credit. You know there’s been a lot of criticism of Peta Credlin from people in the Liberal and National party. If Peta Credlin was running the itinerary, I assure you there wouldn’t be a fifteen minute doorstop where the Prime Minister didn’t talk to anyone. Say what you like about Peta Credlin, she actually knew a little bit about campaigning and was a very formidable Chief- of-Staff to the Prime Minister.
JOURNALIST: So you promised $80 million, are you expecting the State Government to come up with the other $80 million?
ALBANESE: Well, yes we expect the State Government but also there might be a local government contribution here as well. That’s up to the state and local governments to work that through. That would be reasonable given the impact that this will have in terms of an uplift value, in terms of rates and in terms of economic activity. But what we’re saying is we’ll come to the party here. Our money’s on the table. It’ll be in the budget. It’ll be available straight away. We want to see this happen because Perth and Western Australia needs this economic activity. And this is an investment. It’s not just a cost. This will create not just direct jobs in terms of a thousand jobs, it will create indirect jobs as well over a period of time from suppliers. It will create indirect jobs because of the economic boost that will happen in this region. This will boost productivity, which will enha nce the economic capacity of this region. Good for small business, good for the people who work on the project, good for the people who travel on the road, good for cutting out health costs by the improvement in road safety that will occur as a result of all of these works. This is an exciting project and frankly I’m stunned that it wasn’t in the Budget last month. But it wasn’t, so if the government can’t provide some leadership, Labor, federal and state, is here to do just that.
JOURNALIST: Just in terms of Labor’s position of protecting penalty rates do you think the Fair Work Commission has a good balance in its Commissioners and if Labor was to get in power would you change that?
ALBANESE: Oh I’m not going to comment on the Commissioners in the Fair Work Commission. I mean, quite frankly, if you ask me who’s on the Infrastructure Australia board I’m far more familiar with it. That’s my portfolio so what I say is Labor is the party of penalty rates. Labor is the party that has fought for penalty rates. The labour movement has fought for penalty rates. Penalty rates weren’t coughed up. Penalty rates weren’t something whereby a bunch of employers sat around and said how about we pay these people a bit more for compensation for spending time away from their families. They were fought for and there’s no case been given in terms of getting rid of penalty rates. It’s an ideological obsession. The fact is that overwhelmingly Australians still don’t work on weekends, most Australians. The Parliament doesn’t sit on weekends. Parliamentarians shoul d understand there’s a reason for that. You know even amongst this election campaign, can I say this, before I flew to Perth, I got to go and see my son kick a football around on Sunday morning in my electorate with other families. That’s important. That matters. We in this country understand that quality of life matters. You know for the CEO’s and others out there bunging on about penalty rates, I say to them that you know, they have far more control over their lives than working people who work and pay their mortgages because of penalty rates. It’s factored in, it’s factored in the fact that people earn that little bit extra. I used to work at Pancakes on the Rocks, a restaurant on the Saturday night shift from 11pm-7am when I was a late teenager and in my early twenties. I assure you that wasn’t my preferred time of working. And I assure you that working at 3am in a pancake place in the Rocks in Sydney is an interesting experience. You get to see the full colour of humanity. You need compensation for that. It is different from working at 11 o’clock on a not quite sure what day it is today, I know it’s not a weekend, I think it’s Wednesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, it’s been a long week, on a Tuesday it’s different and that’s why that compensation is there. That’s why Labor is committed to penalty rates.
JOURNALIST: Just back on Roe 8 if the federal Labor party is elected will that spell the end of that project?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. The Perth Freight Link is a dud project. Hasn’t been approved by the courts. Doesn’t stack up in terms of any common sense proposals. See the National Port Strategy was launched here by myself and then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, launched here. We launched it down near the outer harbour. We launched it because it was identified as a priority because every single state document prior to the Perth Freight Link being announced identified that the port would reach capacity in Freo by 2021-22. Now if that’s the case, if that’s the fact, and it is, and it is then you need to plan now for the next port. You need to plan the logistics and the supply chain around the new port. That’s why the outer harbour is critical. That’s why we’re funding the planning work for the outer harbour that we announced yesterday in conjunction with Mark McGo wan, the state leader of the Labor Party and it is quite duplicitous of the State Government to pretend frankly, under Colin Barnett that that’s not the case. Let’s be clear about what happened here Tony Abbott got elected at the end of 2013 on a promise that he would not touch rail. He would remove all funding for public transport and just fund roads. They were toll roads incidentally. Now to be fair to him, he cut pensions, he cut education, he cut health, he cut funding to the ABC but he did keep that promise. He did keep the promise to cut public transport funding and because of that you did have this distortion and this race to fund these roads that weren’t thought through. The East-West Link in Melbourne, a benefit of 45 cents for every dollar invested. In Sydney the WestConnex project. They said it would cost $10 billion. It’s up to $16.8 billion and rising. The project here Perth Freight Link where the WA government didn’t have, there weren’t any plans, there was no business case, they then are trying to retrofit an excuse to do this project. How about you just get on with what Perth needs. Perth needs Metronet. It needs public transport. It needs good road projects such as the one we’re announcing here today. Just like our other capital cities, Bill Shorten today is confirming $500 million for the Adelink project, light rail in Adelaide. That will transform Adelaide. It will bust congestion. It will produce jobs, not just directly in the construction, but obviously in the provision of steel, that’s important in terms of the South Australian economy as well. That’s what we need and here in Perth, Perth needs Metronet, it needs good road projects. Labor will fund them just as we have in the past with the expansion of the Great Eastern Highway, with the Gateway WA project, with what’s now called Northlink but what was the Swan Valley Bypass. You know this is a government that thinks if you change the name and give it a new name to an old project people will think oh, that’s a new idea with new funding. It’s an old project that was funded by Labor just like the Leach Highway upgrade. All the other upgrades that we see here whether it be roads or rail projects like Perth Citilink it is only Labor that will do the big infrastructure projects and we also do, might I add, the small infrastructure projects as well and after this we’re going to go and have a look at the facility down at Cockburn, the recreational and aquatic centre, funded under the Gillard Labor government with a $10 million grant that’s meeting its halfway point. A facility for the Freo Dockers that will be important for them but also very important for local community sport and the quality of life here in Fremantle and the surrounding suburbs south of Perth. So it’s a very important project. I look forwa rd, having been the Minister when that grant was made, I look forward very much to going to that inspection as well. If you’re serious about community infrastructure or major infrastructure vote Labor on July 2. Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.