Subjects; Labor’s $60 million commitment to Bass Highway upgrade, by-elections
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Federal Labor will commit $60 million to fixing up the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Marrawah. We think this is a critical area for road safety. We also know that along that section of the highway we have a million tonnes of freight worth a billion dollars to the Tasmanian and national economy. So this is a critical issue of road safety and yesterday we met with people who take kids to and from school in buses. They spoke about the dangerous sections of the road, the fact that repairs have been done but it hasn’t been fixed properly.
Federal Labor in our first term will commit to start on this project. Funding committed by Federal Labor, just like we did when we were last in office when we doubled infrastructure funding for Tasmania, both road and rail.
JOURNALIST: What is the dollar figure?
ALBANESE: Sixty million dollars is what we will contribute to this important project. The dollars will start to flow from the time that we are elected in our very first budget. One of the concerns that we have is that the current Government have made a big announcement but it doesn’t flow. There’s just $10 million flowing. Nothing this year; $10 million the following year.
That’s not good enough for Tasmania and just like we did, when we were last in office, Federal Labor is the nation building party. We want to work with Justine Keay and other Tasmanian Members to make sure that we improve road safety, we improve productivity and we create jobs, as well, here in the North West while this project is being constructed.
JOURNALIST: Are you worried about being seen on the back foot after the Liberals made an announcement on that stretch of road previously?
ALBANESE: Well they haven’t put the dollars there in the short-term. This is an announcement from them off onto the never never. And we know the Liberals haven’t even spent the money on programs like the Black Spots Program that’s been allocated in budgets. Tasmanians know that the Liberal Party has been in Government for five years at the Federal level and there’s not a single major infrastructure project underway in Tasmania that wasn’t already funding in 2013 or before. Not one.
All they have done is cut funds to programs like the Rail Revitalisation Plan, put some of that money back five years later, and pretend that it’s new.
JOURNALIST: But the current Government are working up there and there’s more works to be done in the near future. You don’t think that’s enough?
ALBANESE: Well the Government hasn’t done enough. They’ve been asleep at the wheel. What they’ve done is cut infrastructure funding for Tasmania. We doubled it. And if we’re elected to Government we will once again be contributing to nation building with the support of people like Justine Keay here in Braddon, Ross Hart in Bass. We have two Members who have stood up for the north of this state in the House of Representatives, unlike we saw what happened last time: we had the three one-term Members elected. There’s a reason they only lasted one-term – because they didn’t deliver.
Justine Keay has been standing up for the North West. She will continue to do so after the July 28th by-election where I’m very confident that Justine will be returned as the Member for Braddon.
JOURNALIST: You’ve been on the front page of a Fairfax paper today – is that your pitch for the leadership?
ALBANESE: I’m just getting about doing my job for the Labor Party as part of Bill Shorten’s Labor team. That’s what I’m doing here today. Earlier this week I was in Longman and the entire Labor team is out there campaigning to get rid of this Government because we know that this is a Government that has prioritised tax cuts for the big end of town, tax cuts that won’t benefit people here in Braddon.
Braddon will receive the fourth lowest benefit of the 150 electorates from Malcolm Turnbull’s tax plan. What we want to do is to stand up for working people, stand up on issues of education and health and infrastructure. We’ll continue to do so.
JOURNALIST: Do you see yourself as a source of lingering pressure though for Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: I see myself as part of the Federal Labor team – a Labor team that is united, a Labor team that is determined to get rid of the Turnbull Government. And one of the great divides in Australian politics is the united Labor team with the current Government, which is at war with itself. Within the National Party there’s an ongoing blue between Barnaby Joyce’s supporters and those now in the leadership position. There’s the ongoing war between Tony Abbott , down here again, eating pieces of fruit and vegetables, once again down here in Tasmania, last week.
Brett Whiteley is part of the Abbott team that opposes Malcolm Turnbull’s team. The Labor team is united, the Labor team is determined to see Justine Keay returned as the Member for Braddon. And what you’ll see over coming weeks is Labor senior Members down here campaigning with Justine, making sure that she’s returned as the Member for Braddon.
JOURNALIST: So are you ruled out going for the leadership?
ALBANESE: We have no leadership issues. What we have, as a united team, determined…
JOURNALIST: Will you rule out?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. I’m not interested in fighting anyone other than Malcolm Turnbull. That’s my priority and I continue to do that each and every day as part of Labor’s team.
JOURNALIST: Just one more – do you think you would be a more popular leader than Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: I am part of the Labor team. And one of the things about being part of the team is that everyone has to play their role and everyone has to head in one direction. That’s what’s happening with Labor. We are united, we have more policies out there than any Opposition has had in living memory.
And today’s announcement is just another policy to go with our commitment on hospitals, our commitment in education, early childhood, other infrastructure issues where we’re determined to put forward a real alternative to the current Government. We’ve been determined not just to be elected by default, but to be elected with a platform in our own right. And part of that platform is representing the North-West of Tasmania and indeed the whole of Tasmania and making sure that we stand up.
The Liberal Party are running a candidate in this seat who won’t even say whether he supports Tasmania continuing to get its fair share from the GST. A person who won’t say that he supports penalty rates. A person who wants tax cuts for the big end of town, rather than tax cuts that benefit the people in this electorate in the North-West. Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.