Subjects; WA infrastructure; City of Stirling visit; METRONET; Morley-Ellenbrook line; GST distribution; Labor Party; Tony Abbott; Mathias Cormann’s income cuts for under-30s; political donations
TIM HAMMOND: Well good morning everyone. It’s great to be here with such talented local and federal colleagues. I am joined by Lisa Baker, our hardworking member for Maylands, Amber-Jade Sanderson, the Member for Morley, our great new candidates Lauren Palmer, the candidate for Hasluck, and of course Kim Travers, our candidate for Pearce. And of course we are joined by our guest of honour, the Honourable Anthony Albanese, who will say a few more words about Labor’s track record in relation to infrastructure. But I think as Anthony will elaborate upon, it is really only the Federal Labor Party and the State Labor Government that is truly committed to nation-building on this side of the country and without any further ado I will hand over to Anthony. Thank you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Tim and it is great to be here with Tim Hammond, my colleague the Member for Perth, with Anne Aly, the Member for Cowan and with my future colleagues Lauren and Kim who are waving the flag for the Labor Party in Hasluck in Lauren’s case in Kim Travers of course in Pearce, and we are also joined by our state colleagues Amber and Lisa.
We are here at the site of the Morley Railway station. It is where the extension from Morley to Ellenbrook will begin and we are encouraging the community to put forward submissions to the State Government about what sort of plans they want to see around the new stations along the route, what positive developments can occur so there is value added to this rail extension as part of the Perth METRONET project.
We of course have supported Perth METRONET from the beginning and we have some $1.6 billion that we have put aside for WA infrastructure as just the latest instalment in Federal Labor’s commitment, working with WA Labor to actually build infrastructure to improve the quality of our city here in Perth in the national interest as well as in the interests of West Australians and Perth residents.
When we were last in Government we invested in infrastructure – the largest-ever road project in WA’s history is of course Gateway WA. We invested in the Great Eastern Highway, in the Swan Valley Bypass. We invested in the roads in Bunbury and Esperance, in Kalgoorlie, the Great Northern Highway. We invested right around Perth, not just in roads, but of course also in public transport with the Perth City Link project, a visionary project at a time when the Commonwealth Liberals were saying that they didn’t support any investment in public transport.
Now Malcolm Turnbull, if ever he visits the West – which is occasionally – he drops in once every year for a couple of hours and at that time he will say that he supports public transport investment. But he’s not putting any dollars in. This commitment that we have for this project, some $700 million, is just the latest instalment consistent with our approach. We are also looking at other projects here in Perth and throughout WA.
This morning Tim and I have spent a considerable time with the City of Stirling, with the Mayor and with the planners there having a look at the development in terms or urban redevelopment that is occurring around Scarborough and around the northern suburbs of Perth and we are interested in engaging with the State Government – I have meetings with Rita Saffitoti, the Minister, this afternoon – and we will be out there campaigning each and every day to make sure that West Australians get a better share, get a fair deal from the Commonwealth and I am very proud of the fact that we have such got outstanding candidates putting themselves forward under the Labor banner, such as Kim and Lauren. They are people who will actually stand up for Western Australia, as have the current Labor representatives, Anne and Tim and the other parts of the Labor team in Canberra.
So I am here today to recommit as we did in government. Last time we were in office we more than doubled infrastructure investment here in Western Australia from the Commonwealth. We have seen that decline. We saw half a billion dollars of course is being spent on the Airport Rail Link including through Forrestfield. Now it is a rail link that is coming from funding that was put already in the Budget in 2013, was cut from the Budget and then Malcolm Turnbull put $480 million of it back and pretended that it is new money. It’s not. It’s just money that was cut by the Coalition Government when Tony Abbott came to office in 2013. We are absolutely committed to nation building, to jobs and to growth and the key to that is infrastructure development in order to boost the productivity of our cities but also to make them more liveable and more sustainable. Part of that has to be investment in public transport.
REPORTER: The Federal Government says that it has still got $1.2 billion sitting on the table for Roe 8. What should they do with that money? Or what would you do with that money?
ALBANESE: Well, what we would do is actually invest in projects. The problem that the Government has is that they cut all of that money from the Budget, like the half a billion that was there in the Budget for public transport projects in WA. There’s not a single project underway in the entire state of Western Australia in terms of major road project or a major rail project with Commonwealth Government funding where that funding wasn’t already in the Budget when they came to office. Almost five years ago now, four and a half years ago – not a single major new initiative. The new initiative they had, which was done on the back of a coaster somewhere, the Roe 8 proposal, redrawn up at the same time as they were not doing anything about of course what was actually needed and the projects for which the planning had been done, such as this rail line to Ellenbrook.
Of course, Roe 8, the problem with it was that it didn’t even go to the port and what we know in Western Australia and the McGowan Government knows and all governments who have had a look at this know, and bodies like infrastructure Australia know, is that the Port of Fremantle is reaching capacity and we need to have an Outer Harbour and we need to look at the infrastructure that will support that growth. The Federal Government just doesn’t get it. The State election was a referendum on that proposal and the Coalition was slaughtered at the polling booths at the WA state election.
It’s about time that the Federal Government learned to actually cooperate with State Governments and it cooperates with them by putting money into projects that people want. People want Perth METRONET. They want an expansion of public transport because as the city grows, what we need to do to deal with urban congestion is yes, road investment, but we need investment in public transport. The McGowan Labor Government understands that. It’s about time that Malcolm Turnbull’s rhetoric was matched by investment in public transport.
REPORTER: Colin Barnett endorsed Bill Shorten’s solution to the GST problem as the best proposal on the table. Does that surprise you?
ALBANESE: I’m not surprised given that the Coalition Government doesn’t seem to have anything on the table for Western Australia. We as a political party have been out there supporting Western Australians as we did when we were in Government. I well recall Malcolm Turnbull coming here to Western Australia during the 2016 election campaign and pretending that the Gateway WA project, that was almost finished, was some new initiative that they were announcing. I think West Australians know when they’re being conned; when they’re not being listened to; when they’re not being respected. A Labor Government will respect West Australians. We have members who are standing up for the West including Tim and Anne, and we have candidates who will stand up for the West.
REPORTER: Speaking of Mr Shorten, how is your relationship with your leader?
ALBANESE: Very good. We are good friends and I’m pleased to be a part of Bill Shorten’s team. I work each and every day in the interests of making sure that a Labor Government is elected.
REPORTER: There are reports that you’re having a tiff.
ALBANESE: No. Not at all. The fact is that Bill Shorten and I enjoy a strong relationship. We have for a long period of time and I’m a part of the team. I’m a team player. Always have been. Always will be.
REPORTER: You’re not undermining him? He’s not undermining you?
ALBANESE: Not at all. The only conflict that’s involved in internals in Canberra is the conflict between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. Yesterday we saw the latest instalment of that with the leaking of a Cabinet document showing that Tony Abbott and Mathias Cormann, importantly here, the WA Senator, one of the leaders of the WA Liberal Party, who as Finance Minister wanted to take away all income support for all young people under the age of 30. Now the implications of that, for what those people would do if they were deprived of any income at all is quite extraordinary and traumatic for those young people.
But importantly also, it shows that this is a Government that really, in its leadership – and Mathias Cormann is still there, he’s now the Senate Leader – that he’s someone who doesn’t understand that investment in education and training not only assists that young person, it also assists the economy. It provides the skills that Australia needs into the future. This is a government that still believes in its 2014 Budget. That Budget was draconian. What we know now is that they had even worse things in store that they backed away from at the last minute. But there’s no doubt that that is what they wanted to do. And there’s no doubt that that’s what they would do, if they were given the chance.
REPORTER: One more from me. What do you think of people who have the money to buy access to Ministers and Premiers because they join a leaders forum and pay $25,000 and you get exclusive access?
ALBANESE: The fact is that fundraising occurs in political parties. I’m not aware of any specific issues that are there. But fundraising does occur for election campaigns. If there are proposals around to have full public funding and to rule out all fundraising by political parties, then by all means have that discussion. In the meantime, the fact is that political parties will raise money.
What’s important is that politicians listen to every single resident regardless of their income or their capacity to contribute to fundraising. That’s what Labor does. That’s what I was doing this morning with Tim Hammond, where we walked around the City of Stirling, we talked to people with the Mayor, with the council officers. We engaged in that dialogue. That’s what I’ll be doing over the next couple of days.
When I come to Perth I don’t fly in, and fly out, and just talk to a media conference for a couple of hours like the Prime Minister. I’m here for three days and two nights. I’ll talking to people from here. I’ll be going to Fremantle this afternoon. I’ll be talking to people on talkback radio through 6PR. Talking to people on ABC Radio talkback morning. I’ll be with Lauren Palmer in the electorate of Hasluck. I get out and about and talk to people and make sure that everyone can have that input regardless of their income, and that’s what responsible politicians should do.
REPORTER: So those people didn’t have to pay to meet with you, but you’re okay with someone paying $25,000?
ALBANESE: I’m not going to answer hypotheticals. Anyone can talk to me. You’re talking to me now and I’ll tell you, you didn’t pay for the privilege. The people at Scarborough pool this morning too. They didn’t have any money, because they didn’t have any pockets because they were there in their swimmers enjoying this fantastic Perth day.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.