Subjects: Infrastructure, Frankston-Baxter Rail Upgrade, TAFE, by-elections, Emma Husar, negative campaigning.
PETA MURPHY: I’m the Labor candidate for Dunkley and it is my absolute pleasure to welcome Anthony Albanese here today. We are here to do a roundtable with the Committee for Greater Frankston and talk about the infrastructure and the other needs of Dunkley and our region. We are here at the beautiful McClelland Sculpture Gallery and Parklands, which those of us who are locals are really incredibly proud of. It’s a terrific location and it is part of one of the best places in the world to live, so I am very pleased that we can have you here to show off our amazing location and talk about Labor’s plans for the future.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks Peta and thanks for welcoming us back to Frankston yet again. This is a great region. It’s a growing region. It’s one that needs to get the infrastructure before you get further growth in this region. And that is what Labor’s City Partnerships are all about. Our City Partnerships Plan that we announced earlier this month is about getting bottom-up support for planning to make sure that we meet the transport infrastructure, the health and education infrastructure and social infrastructure, that communities, particularly in our growing outer suburbs of our cities and in our regional cities need.
One example of that of course is the extension of the rail line from Frankston to Baxter. That is something where the Government belatedly caught up with Labor’s commitment that we made prior to the last Federal election in the most recent Budget. They allocated some $225 million. The problem with that is, like a lot of their commitments, it is off into the Never-Never. Only $60 million of that money is available prior to 2023. So what we want to do is, once the business case is completed, and that will be completed next year, is make sure that that project is done sooner, rather than later, that it gets the planning right and that will be a catalyst for other activity.
Today we are also meeting with the committee about what the priorities are for future jobs growth in this region. One of the things that Labor has been concerned about is that the jobs growth in our capital cities has largely been around CBDs. What that means is that people have to commute to and from work, many people spending more time in their cars or on public transport each day than they do at home with their kids. We want jobs to be created in local communities and that will be a focus of today’s discussion.
But importantly, this is consistent with an approach that we are having right around the country. Just last week I had a roundtable in Canning, south of Perth – a similar growing region to the Frankston region here - with local employers, local councils and local community-based organisations about the growth here. We will be continuing in the lead-up to the Federal election and beyond to consult with local communities about what their needs are and where better than this magnificent art gallery here today to have a venue. We are just about a kilometre away from Langwarrin down the road, which is a potential site which the business case will examine for a new station as part of the rail extension.
So I look forward to today’s discussion. I look forward to continuing to work with our fantastic candidates - Peta here; I have just come from a discussion with apprentices up at Chisholm TAFE at Berwick with Simon Curtis, our candidate for La Trobe. Labor is working very hard in our outer suburbs to make sure that we are in a position to hit the ground running after the next Federal election, to turn around the neglect that these communities have suffered from as a result of a Government led by Malcolm Turnbull that very much is just focused on the inner area of Sydney.
And in conclusion also can I say that it is outrageous that the last financial year Victoria received under 9 percent of the national infrastructure budget. It has improved somewhat in this current financial year, but it is still up to only 14 per cent. We are standing today in Australia’s fastest-growing city of Melbourne. The growth is particularly in both the western and the south-eastern suburbs here of Melbourne. It represents more than 25 percent of Australia’s population. The projections are that Melbourne will be Australia’s largest city and Victoria is of course Australia’s fastest- growing state. But it hasn’t received the infrastructure funding that it deserves because we have a Federal Government that has been prepared to play politics and to only fund projects and indeed states where they have Coalition governments. That’s not what we did when we were last in government and our approach would be to make sure that we represent all of Australia, particularly our growing outer suburbs. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Just on the topic of by-elections, do you think they were about the leaders or the local candidates?
ALBANESE: Well by-elections are about a whole range of issues. One of the things that this by-election was about, according to Malcolm Turnbull, was about leaders and I am sure that Malcolm Turnbull regrets the statements that he made. We had a very good result in returning what are fantastic local members to the national Parliament and I look forward in two weeks’ time from today - just a bit before today, less than two weeks now - we’ll welcome back those three sitting Labor members as well as having Patrick Gorman join the Labor team as the Member for Perth. All of those people are outstanding local candidates. The whole Labor team put in an enormous effort - Bill Shorten as the Leader, our entire Shadow Ministry team, the Labor campaign organisation and importantly Labor branch members, the rank and file of the party, worked so hard and they got an outstanding result on Saturday.
REPORTER: There were still a lot of votes though for independent candidates. People are getting away from the big parties. How do you get them in in these local elections?
ALBANESE: Well what we need to do is to address the issues that are of concern to them and we need to make sure that as politicians we are doing what Peta and I will be doing today - sitting down, listening to their concerns. All politics is local as they say and today we will be talking about transport issues, we’ll be talking about health issues, education, the infrastructure needs here. But we will also be talking about how a City Partnerships approach to that brings it all together so that you have a holistic approach to how a community will grow, how we improve the productivity of that community, but also the sustainability and liveability of that community.
This is a fantastic place to live and this art gallery, where we are today, is a great example of how important cultural institutions are to the quality of life of local communities. I know that the Greater Frankston Committee wanted to meet here today to show off with pride what this fantastic sculpture gallery outside is - an enormous amount of work - and here at this gallery inside as well. All of that is important economic infrastructure but also social and cultural infrastructure as well.
REPORTER: Do you think Trevor Ruthenberg’s medal scandal swing the Longman by-election or had any impact?
ALBANESE: Look I think people will go over and look at a whole range of issues. There’s no doubt that that wasn’t helpful. But there’s no doubt also that the decision of the LNP to run a candidate who had been rejected by the electorate before, who was a part of Campbell Newman’s Government, that had an attitude towards health and education of just cutting investment - they cut, a massive number of public servants lost their jobs - and Big Trev as they called him was associated with those big cuts. There is also no doubt as well that the association with Campbell Newman’s Government just reminded people as well, reinforced the fact that the Turnbull and Abbott governments have also been bad particularly for the outer suburbs like electorates like Longman.
The cuts to education and health have had an impact on those communities and, what’s more, the fact that the Government has not kept its word. This is a Government prior to 2013 said there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC or SBS, and we’ve seen cuts all the way through that have had an impact and certainly there’s a whole range of issues that came home there.
Certainly also I think, Susan Lamb is a very good friend of mine, she has been a great local member. I visited Longman both before the last election where Susan was elected, but since as well. Susan was in touch with her local employers, she was in touch with the local workforce and the local community, just as Peta here in Frankston is in touch. And that’s what you want – candidates who are out here and committed to their local communities, who are a part of those local communities.
REPORTER: On the Emma Husar report, do you think that should be released publicly and don’t people have a right to know what it says?
ALBANESE: That’s a matter for others. I am not aware of the details of the timing etc of that report. It’s a report that has been commissioned by the New South Wales branch and I think it is appropriate, given that there is this report by Mr Whelan under way, that it be allowed to take its course and that people don’t have a running commentary on the way through about the details.
REPORTER: So once it’s finished …?
ALBANESE: It’s a matter of not having a running commentary about that report and I don’t intend in any way to make comments on a process that is under way. It should be allowed to take its course.
REPORTER: Have you now put away any ambition to become Federal Labor Leader?
ALBANESE: I don’t know if you were paying attention last week or not or any time since 2013 when I have been asked this question. I have been consistent about it. I am happy to be a part of the Labor team. My ambition is for Labor to be in government and to be the Infrastructure Minister in a government led by Bill Shorten after the next election.
REPORTER: Just on negative election campaigning, it got very personal. We have had the African gang issue here in Melbourne. Can we look forward to that in a Federal election spread over the whole nation?
ALBANESE: What Labor has done is put forward positive ideas. There has been no Opposition in living memory that has put forward such comprehensive plans for the nation; that has put forward, I think, bold plans on issues like housing affordability, making the changes that we have advocated for negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax; on the changes that we have made to the imputation of dividends; on the changes that we have made in terms of policies. I have just visited a TAFE where we have a plan to help rebuild TAFE in terms of funding, where we also have a plan in terms of 100,000 fee-free places. Right across the board - on infrastructure, here in this area we have committed to the extension of the rail line to Baxter. But we have also committed to infrastructure support right across the nation. We have put forward positive plans. Today we are having a meeting with the community, with local government, with business to get further input as to what our plans will be. There is nothing negative about that. It is positive and Labor will continue to put forward a positive agenda in the lead-up to the election, Thank you very much.