Subjects: Expanded car parking at Frankston Train Station; public transport; ABC.
JACINTA ALLAN: It is terrific to be here at Frankston Station this morning and particularly to join the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, and Anthony is no stranger to Victoria or to this part of the world and understands really keenly the need for Federal Labor Governments to join with the State Labor Government in making the important investments in infrastructure to support more people, in particular, to use public transport.
And what we have seen over the last few years here along the Frankston Line is we have been making a lot of big investments to support public transport use along this corridor. Just down the road, I have come from Seaford where today, the Seaford Road will be opened and that marks the 28th level crossing that will be removed across metropolitan Melbourne and, of course, that included Skye/Overton Road here in Frankston as well. There’s 13 level crossings being removed along this corridor, a brand new station here at Frankston and this is all part of $2 billion worth of investment along the Frankston Line.
In doing these investments we also understand that we want to make it easier for passengers to be able to access public transport and we know that parking is a really important issue for passengers. They love the extra services and the new stations but they know that it can be a real frustration if there is not a parking space at their station and we have had a lot of growth on our numbers using the trains from Frankston and as a result that’s why I am pleased to be able to announce today that a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will be committing in partnership with an elected Federal Labor Government to build 500 new car parking spaces here at Frankston Station. That is more than doubling the existing car parking spaces that are here at the moment. And this demonstrates what you can achieve in partnership with Federal Governments and when you have got a team that is wanting to work together to get these sorts of projects done.
The funding for Victoria’s share will come from the $150 million Car Parking for Commuters fund that the Premier and I announced a few weeks ago that is going to give a 20 per cent boost to car parking spaces across our train network in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. I am now really pleased to hand over to Albo to ask him to talk about his contribution to the project.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Jacinta and it is great to be here with Paul, the local State Member, and Peta, the future local Federal Member, for this joint announcement. Federal Labor will contribute half the funding for 500 new car parking spaces right here at Frankston. That will be a $17.5 million commitment from Federal Labor from our $300 million Park and Ride Fund that was announced by Bill Shorten, the Labor Leader, just two months ago.
We support public transport. We understand that as our cities grow you need to deal with urban congestion and the way to do that is through investment in public transport. And one of the impediments to people using public transport is a lack of parking facilities around railway stations. That is why we have created this $300 million fund to make a difference. That’s why we are prepared to partner with the Victorian State Government. I can see, having visited here just two years ago, the transformation in this station as a result of the Andrews Labor Government and its investment in local communities and in particular its support for dealing with urban congestion, whether it be the removal of level crossings or whether it be the upgrade of stations such as this and I am very pleased to be able to partner.
The fact is that Victorians are still being short-changed by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison (ATM) Government. This is a Government which takes deposits from Victorians – one in four Australians; takes deposits from Melburnians – the fastest growing city in Australia – but doesn’t give back through investment. And we know that this week with the final Federal Budget result for 2017-18, Victoria’s share of infrastructure grants that financial year ending in June was 7.7 per cent. Twenty-five percent of the population – 7.7 per cent of the investment, and that contrasts with what we did when we were last in Federal Government, delivering on projects like Springvale up the road, like the Regional Rail Link, like the investment in the Monash Freeway – investing in roads and railways lines here in Victoria and we want to do it again. I’m very pleased that this will make a real difference to people’s lives this upgraded car parking station right here at Frankston. Happy to take questions on this proposal perhaps first.
JOURNALIST: Jacinta, has there been much examination done into the cost effectiveness of extra car parks compared to extra bus services or bike parking?
ALLAN: Well you need to do both. We need to provide passengers with a range of options as to how they can best make their train connection. And so as part of the work we’re doing here at Frankston Station there’s better cycling facilities, bike storage facilities, there’s better pedestrian access and, of course, we’ve been doing work on the local bus network as well, helping that to connect into train services. But also too we know for some people they need to drive to the train station to access that train service and so we also need to accommodate for that as well, which is why parking is an important part of the work that you need to do to encourage more people to catch the train more often.
JOURNALIST: And so this is obviously a highly marginal seat, how are you determining where these car parks are going?
ALLAN: So over the past nearly four years the Andrews Labor Government has added nearly 10,000 car parking spaces to train stations across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. And with more investment going into public transport we’re putting on more train services, we’re building new train stations, we’re wanting to make sure that as we’re seeing more people catching the train more people can have the chance to use that by increasing the car parking spaces, which is why we’ve set up a fund – a $150 million car parking fund.
Also, too, a place here like Frankston, there has been pressure for a little while now on the car parking availability around the Frankston Station and so there’s very clearly a need here, and I think Paul and Peta and the local community would say very clearly there’s a need here in Frankston, to provide more car parking spaces to accommodate the extra people using the services. We’re adding services to the Frankston Line. We want to make sure we can add car parking spaces as well.
JOURNALIST: Obviously Federal support is dependent on Federal Labor getting in. Have you had a similar undertaking from the current Federal Government?
ALLAN: Well just to go back a step, the funding is also part of what a re-elected Andrews Labor Government is offering to the Victorian community. So it’s an election commitment and the determination on this fund will depend on the results of November’s state election and then of course we’d love to see a newly elected Federal Labor Government partner with us.
The sad fact is that we have been short changed in recent times by the Federal Liberal Government. They can make their own choices as to how they want to invest in this sort of project, but I would note that at the last federal election it was only Federal Labor that committed funds to build the car parking here at Frankston. It’s now only Federal Labor, at a federal level, that’s also committed the funding and it’s really up to the Liberal Party to explain why they just keep turning their back on Frankston.
JOURNALIST: And Labor has said they have no confidence in the Chairman of the ABC. Isn’t that also political interference within the organisation?
ALBANESE: No. What we’ve seen is a very explicit intervention by the Chair of the ABC. We’re calling for an inquiry into the circumstances of that. But the ABC is dependent upon its independence for its integrity. The ABC is Australia’s most trusted news source and the idea that you could have a Chair of the ABC intervene as a result, it must be said, of the pressure and intimidation that has taken place from day one that the Abbott Government was elected, right through Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison – the fact is that the Coalition Government have been prepared to intimidate the ABC. They have ensured that their own people have been appointed to various positions on the board of the ABC. They chose to do that. The fact is that Governments that seek to control reporting and news and journalism – there’s a word for them – it’s called totalitarian. What we need in this country, and importantly as part of our democracy, is an ABC that is quite clearly independent and transparently so.
JOURNALIST: So would you have any confidence in a Government inquiry into what’s unfurled here?
ALBANESE: Well we just see that as, essentially, a stalling tactic, which is why Labor is initiating an inquiry through the Senate. That inquiry will have the power to call the Chair of the ABC and, as well, to call other people who are directly relevant and we think that is the way to go: a transparent, open inquiry. The Australian public pay for the ABC. They should have a right to know exactly what is going on, what the circumstances are and if there’s an explanation for what are extraordinary interventions; calling for the dismissal of Emma Alberici, of Andrew Probyn and perhaps others. We’ll wait and see as the revelations seem to be coming each and every day. The Australian people have a right to see it, which is why we need a transparent process, not a departmental secretary behind closed doors reporting to a Minister who seems to be obsessed with attacking the ABC rather than defending it.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that Labor’s never lobbied against particular journalists?
ALBANESE: Look the idea that a Minister – I speak as a former Communications Minister – the idea that I, as a former Communications Minister, when I had responsibility for that portfolio, would argue that a particular journalist should be removed from their job just wouldn’t enter – or shouldn’t enter – any political office holder’s mind. It is so extraordinary that this would occur. The fact is that the Coalition have a glass jaw when it comes to any criticism of them.
I mean, Federal Labor and State Labor, we ride with the punches each and every day when it comes to news coverage, some of which is extraordinarily unfair, the sort of caricatures and representations that are made by commercial media. We get on with it. We get on with it when the ABC is unfairly critical, in our view of it. And people have a right, of course, to complain about that and I’m sure that people do from time to time. But the idea that someone should be removed from their job in order to assist the ABC in getting federal funding is an outrage. And Australians should be outraged by it. I think they are which is why we need this transparent inquiry.
JOURNALIST: Does Labor intend for the independence and proper funding of the ABC to be a major election issue? Probably for the first time in many years, is it going to be a significant election issue?
ALBANESE: Absolutely it is. We will restore the $83 million funding cut that was made to the ABC. We, when we were in Government, put in place mechanisms to ensure the independence of the ABC. We regard this as very important. It’s important for our democracy, it’s important for a national voice.
You only have to look at the ads, to give the ABC credit, that are taking place at the moment with significant Australian figures like Guy Pearce talking about their experience with the ABC and why the ABC is important to them. The ABC plays a critical role, particularly in regional Australia, in emergency services notification, in providing that voice of Australians, often in a non-commercial way, and in a way though that is valued. It’s a national asset. The ABC structure is important, it’s an independent structure and Labor values that. We cherish it and we’ll enhance it when we’re in Government, if we are successful at the next election.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.