SUBJECTS: Majura Parkway; Caretaker mode; Setting of the election date; Gary Humphries on Coalition’s plans for cuts
QUESTION: Mr Albanese, what’s the importance of this project?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is an exciting project for the ACT and the region. Three-hundred-and-fifty jobs created during construction, an important thoroughfare for heavy vehicles and other vehicles from the north to south and reverse here in Canberra. But also importantly making a huge difference to productivity. That’s why it was identified by Infrastructure Australia as a priority project, the funding available, joint funding between the national government and the ACT government in partnership. It will also be of great benefit for all of the suburbs around the ACT because it will take vehicles off local roads and put them on the dual carriageway parkway here.
QUESTION: But isn’t there a history in Australia and around the world we build motorways, more cars use them, they become gridlocked and we’re no better off?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. What happens is that you get those heavy vehicles off those local roads. That was why it was identified as providing a billion dollars benefit for the economy. That’s why this project going ahead was identified as a priority. It’s a great project. Eleven-and-a-half kilometres of dual carriageway, bridges created, three grade-separated interchanges, an exciting project for the ACT. Jobs in the short term are part of the nation building investment that we’re making into the nation’s infrastructure, part of our doubling of the roads budget. We’ve increased the rail budget by ten times. We’re getting on with the job of governing and we’re doing to effectively as we see here today.
QUESTION: But apart from the immediate jobs where’s the economic benefit of a road, how does it produce an economic benefit?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It produces an economic benefit because instead of being tied up at traffic lights and intersections, traffic, particularly heavy vehicles are able to travel directly straight through without stopping as a result of dual carriageway. When you take heavy vehicles off suburban streets that aren’t separated, you also have improvements in road safety. So there are big benefits that come with this project for all who live in the ACT, in Queanbeyan and in the region.
QUESTION: Just on another matter, is it realistic for the Government to be in caretaker mode for eight months?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we’re not of course and that is a silly statement. It’s as silly as suggesting that the ACT government is in caretaker mode now because they know that the election is going to be held in October 2016. No one suggests that the ACT government is in caretaker, just like no one suggests that the New South Wales government is in caretaker mode even though the next election date will be the last Saturday in March in 2015.
Just at the same time that the Opposition are trying to pretend that they’re going to present themselves in a serious way as an alternative government, what we have here is policy lightweights, writ large. Policy lightweights are making these ridiculous statements. All that has happened here is that in effect we have a fixed term being declared by the Prime Minister by naming the date of the election so that we can get some certainty.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That didn’t happen. I was there. What occurs is that as has always occurred at the beginning of parliamentary year since I’ve been going, there’s been discussion about the need for unity. About the need to ensure that we unite as a team, that we’re putting forward a view in one voice.
What I do know here in the ACT is that Gary Humphries is under challenge, one of Tony Abbott’s frontbenchers. Under challenge from the Leader of the ACT Liberals even though he said he wouldn’t challenge, that he wasn’t interested in going into federal politics. But what’s also interesting is Gary Humphries’ own comments. Gary Humphries has said that “there is a particular challenge facing the people of Canberra in the next three years, particularly if there is a change in government”.
Never have I seen such a damning assessment by a local member of what occurs if that local member is successful in moving from opposition to government. What Gary Humphries is identifying is the job losses, the cuts that will be made by Tony Abbott.
And what we know is that Tony Abbott’s talk of having an audit commission is exactly what Campbell Newman did in Queensland. You say before the election you’re going to have a commission of audit – that provides a smoke screen for slashing jobs, slashing benefits, slashing health, slashing education, slashing services. And that is what Gary Humphries is saying, not just what the Government is saying.
That should be of great concern to every resident, not just of the ACT, but every person around Australia now knows that that’s the case. And here we have the Opposition trying to hide behind this.
What this government is about is delivering for people of this region. In contrast we have the Opposition in Gary Humphries own words; preparing to slash and burn.