Feb 23, 2018

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Perth, WA

Subjects; Leach Highway and Welshpool Road upgrade; WA infrastructure funding; Barnaby Joyce

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here back in Perth once again for my third visit in the last couple of months. I’ve been visiting Perth because we are absolutely committed to delivering improvements in WA infrastructure.

Today I’m joined by Hannah Beazley, our candidate for Swan and Lauren Palmer, our candidate for Hasluck and of course Rita Saffioti, the State Infrastructure Minister.

What we are committing to today is to fund half of this upgrade of the Leach Highway with Welshpool Road. This is the most congested spot of any road in Western Australia. It has a BCR (benefit-cost ratio) of above $7 for every dollar that is invested in it, and it will make a huge difference.

We’re right next to the Gateway WA project, the largest ever federally funded road project in Western Australia. It was completed in a partnership funded primarily by the former Federal Labor Government.

This is good for jobs; it’s good for reducing travel times; it’s good for the sustainability of this growing city. Today Infrastructure Australia have produced a report speaking about the problem of urban congestion and the need to deal with the productivity, sustainability and livability of our major capital cities.

It’s only Labor that has a plan to deal with that urban congestion and this follows on from the $700 million dollar commitment we made to the Ellenbrook rail line. The fact is that Labor’s committed to improving both rail and road here in Perth and indeed throughout Western Australia. This is a part of our $1.6 billion infrastructure package for WA ,because WA is missing out and is being short-changed at the moment by the GST.

So this is a great announcement. It’s fantastic that we are partnering with the WA Government. They’re committed to projects like METRONET, but also committed to upgrading the roads here in Perth and Federal Labor wants to partner with the WA State Government to improve the livability, sustainability, and productivity of this great city.

RITA SAFFIOTI, WA TRANSPORT MINISTER: Thanks very much. It’s great to have Anthony Albanese back in Perth. He’s in Perth quite often and what he’s always looking at is ways to improve the infrastructure through Perth and WA. This is another new commitment from Federal Labor and as you can see, this is a heavily congested intersection and has a very strong BCR of over seven so we welcome the additional infrastructure commitment from Federal Labor; and also, moreover, the fact that Federal Labor does come to WA.

Anthony Albanese, as the Federal Shadow Minister for Infrastructure knows WA, and what we’ve seen so far is a significant commitment to METRONET in particular the Ellenbrook rail line; and of course we’re working with Federal Labor to see what other commitments we can have as part of this lead up to the next election. So we welcome the commitment. Again, we appreciate the fact that Federal Labor is keen to work with us to deliver new infrastructure, to reduce congestion and create jobs in WA.

REPORTER: Will this project go to Infrastructure WA?

SAFFIOTI: This project has already had a strong BCR as I’ve outlined, of over seven so regarding the timing, yes; it just depends on the timing of when Infrastructure WA is set up but I just want to outline this a little bit in particular in relation to main roads and PTA over here. Because we have an established processes and for example PTA in all of its Metronet projects works through a business case process with Infrastructure Australia.

Every project with over $100 million has a detailed business case. Every project under $100 million is still submitted to Infrastructure Australia, for example currently, and there is also a project plan that’s also submitted. So we already had that process underway. Infrastructure WA of course will help supplement that, but because my agencies have been working with Infrastructure Australia in particular over the past year, there is an established process and that’s what’s been occurring.

ALBANESE: No questions about my Minister?

REPORTER: Just on this project, this money is to come out of a Better Deal for WA Fund. Wouldn’t it just be better for WA in the longer term to reform the GST?

ALBANESE: The fact is that we’re doing what Colin Barnett has called the most significant federal response by any political party to the fact that Western Australia is being shortchanged on the GST. We’re actually doing something by committing $1.6 billion and that’s over and on top of the other infrastructure commitments that we would make to WA.

So we are dealing with the circumstance from Opposition – where of course you can’t make changes – but what we’re doing is making sure that West Australians know, just as we did when were last in Government, with Gateway WA, with the Perth CityLink project, with the Great Eastern Highway, with the Swan Valley Bypass, with the Esperance Port Access Road, with the Bunbury upgrades, with the Great Northern Highway, what we are doing is investing here in WA.

Now, what’s occurring is that a whole lot of projects that were funded by us, that were in our Budget either in 2013 or earlier – the North West Coastal Highway – these projects are either completed, like Gateway WA, or they’re underway. This Government isn’t creating that pipeline of projects. Now, this project could commence, my understanding is, in 2019. We want to commit very early. We have that commitment there so that the WA State Government knows that that is the case.

Now, if ever the Coalition get their eye back on the ball on infrastructure and actually engage in infrastructure policy, hopefully we’ll get some commitments out of the Coalition Government as well. But at the moment we simply haven’t got that. They’ve lost another Infrastructure Minister today. It’s symptomatic of a Government that’s lost its way.

I’d say to Prime Minister Turnbull, who gets to allocate portfolios; please appoint someone who actually knows where Western Australia is; who actually knows where capital cities are; who knows that we need to deal with urban congestion as a priority when it comes to dealing with infrastructure in accordance with the report that is out today from Infrastructure Australia.

REPORTER: [inaudible]

ALBANESE: That work will now be done, but there has obviously been a business case developed for this project; that all depends of course on our money flowing. When the election date is, we don’t know.

We’ll work those issues through, but we’re committing very much for that money to be available immediately upon the next federal election – if we’re successful in that election campaign. One of the ways that we can be successful is by having Hannah and Lauren elected in Swan and Hasluck.

There are a range of seats here in Western Australia and West Australians know that they’ve been neglected by the current Government in spite of the fact that they have senior members in the Cabinet.

It’s about time that the Federal Government woke up to the fact that Western Australia deserves a fair go and that’s what we’re doing today, just as we are with the Ellenbrook rail line; just as we will other commitments that we’ll be making over the course of the coming year.

REPORTER: You alluded to the fact that Barnaby Joyce has resigned as leader of the Nations, do you think that’s going to restore stability to the Government?

ALBANESE: This is a government that has lost its sense of purpose. The problem is that this is a Government that is concerned about itself, not concerned about the people of Australia.

Not concerned about whether kids are getting the right education; whether our universities and TAFE colleges are properly funded; whether the healthcare care system is functioning effectively; whether proper infrastructure is being delivered in our cities and in our regions.

This is a Government that has lost its way on a range of policy areas. They simply have been in drift. We still don’t have a national energy policy under this Government. There has been a sense of drift for years now. We don’t really have an infrastructure policy or plan being rolled out to deal with the challenge of urban congestion.

They don’t have a policy on climate change. They don’t have a policy to deal with our ageing population.

They don’t have a policy to deal with the fact that real wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and people’s living standards are going down.

They don’t have a policy on housing affordability. They said they look at issues like capital gains tax and negative gearing. Then when we came out with the policy they’ve gone into retreat mode. This is a Government that is acting like an opposition in exile and it is in Australia’s interests for it to be an opposition, in fact, as soon as possible.

That’s why the easiest thing for Malcolm Turnbull to do would be to call an election sooner rather than later and put what is a floundering Government out of its misery.

REPORTER: Do you think Mr Joyce should have gone further and stepped down from his seat?

ALBANESE: That’s a matter for him. He has been elected as the Member for New England. But clearly, it was appropriate that he stepped down as Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister. Everyone knew that was the case.

Malcolm Turnbull showed what a weak leader he is by giving a press conference indicating very clearly that he’d lost faith in Barnaby Joyce, but failing to call for him to step aside.

We’ve seen issues in the past, where there’s been conflict, where the National Party has been prepared to stand up to the Liberal Party. Of course most notably, Earle Page essentially pulled the rug out from under Robert Menzies the first time that Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of Australia.

We saw Black Jack McEwen in the 60s veto, effectively, Billy McMahon becoming Prime Minister which is why then-Senator John Gorton got sworn in as Liberal Leader and as Prime Minister; and we saw Barnaby Joyce himself not be shy about taking out Malcolm Turnbull during his first disastrous term as Liberal Leader.

This goes back to Turnbull and the fact that he’s not able to control his own Party. He’s not able to govern with policies that he himself supports; whether it be on marriage equality, when he had to go through the $120 million public survey when he could have just looked at Newspoll to get the outcome that everyone knew would arise from that; whether it be the republic; whether it be support for public transport, Malcolm Turnbull isn’t able to actually govern and provide that leadership.