Subjects: Upgrading the Palmerston boat ramp; Luke Gosling; Palmerston Hospital and Royal Darwin Hospital; Regional Infrastructure Fund; Perth Gateway project; Aged care.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here today for this announcement that the Federal Labor Government will deliver $200,000 for the upgrade here at Palmerston of this boat ramp and facilities.
It will include a caretaker cottage, it will include shading so that families can be encouraged to participate here, and better security for those people who visit and use the facilities.
Luke Gosling has campaigned very strongly for this facility upgrade, and it’s a part of our commitment to infrastructure. Whether it be small infrastructure such as this, or the in excess of $100 million that we are delivering for the upgrade of Palmerston Hospital, or whether it be the upgrade of course of Tiger Brennan Drive connecting Palmerston with Darwin.
The Federal Labor Government is absolutely committed to better infrastructure, supporting jobs and growth here in the Territory.
LUKE GOSLING: Great news today for fishos up here in the Top End with $200,000 to upgrade the facilities here at Palmerston boat ramp.
The kiosk, the caretaker’s facility is going to make it a safer, more secure place for people to leave their cars and trailers when they are out fishing.
We welcome the investment in our community, and for our great Territory lifestyle.
TREVOR EDWARDS, PRESIDENT, PALMERSTON GAME FISHING CLUB: Thank you Minister, thank you Luke. On behalf of Palmerston Fishing Club and the community, I’d like to thank you for this help.
It’s been a fair bit of work to get up to this level. We have a commitment as fishos in Darwin to continue the lifestyle of Darwin, which is very important. Security of this ramp has been a huge issue for some time.
We hope to complete that with better facilities. You can get a cool drink for your family, bit of shade for your family, security for your car or boat, and we will be moving forward and hopefully in the future we’ll be helping develop this area.
JOURNALIST: Why is this something you came up to announce and you didn’t just leave it up to your candidate?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I love coming to Darwin and yesterday afternoon we had an announcement about affordable housing. Today after this we will be rolling out the National Broadband Network, engaging in that fibre rollout which is so important for the Territory. I’ve been engaged also in various media interviews while I’m here.
As Deputy Prime Minister I believe very strongly that we need good representation in the Territory. Luke Gosling offers that for Territorians and particularly for the people of Darwin and Palmerston.
He’s a strong advocate. He has a great history, a history in the Defence Forces, the work that he’s done with East Timor. I attended a function last night where it was pretty obvious the enthusiasm that’s there for Luke’s campaign.
Luke is someone who will be a strong advocate for the Territory and we have a situation whereby today, as Infrastructure Minister, I’m releasing more figures about the failure of the Coalition to back up our investment in nation building infrastructure here in the Territory.
We’ve got $90 million as part of the Nation Building program for regional roads in the Territory that the Coalition haven’t backed up, on top of the $70 million we’ve committed to further upgrade Tiger Brennan Drive.
We’ve more than doubled infrastructure spending here in the Territory per head and what that means is better roads and better infrastructure here in the Territory. Whether it be major infrastructure or whether it be community infrastructure projects like this that will make a big difference.
Territorians are more likely to own boats than anywhere else in Australia and it’s not surprising – that’s part of the lifestyle. And this announcement today is a small way to assist the local community in pursuing that lifestyle, and making sure that it can be done safely and securely.
JOURNALIST: Given that it’s already a struggle to find enough doctors and nurses to work at the Royal Darwin Hospital, would it make more sense just to expand facilities there rather than build a whole new hospital that doesn’t have any operational funding yet?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No we think Palmerston Hospital is absolutely necessary. What you need is health facilities where people live. So we’re doing it through a range of measures.
One is the new hospital at Palmerston and a commitment of $110 million to that infrastructure. But secondly also the work that we are doing on the NBN will enable Telehealth to be delivered for people here in the Territory.
This rollout in Darwin, one of the things that can occur with the National Broadband Network is that people can stay in their home for longer because they can upload their blood sugar levels, their blood pressure, they can talk to a nurse in real time at a location – whether it’s Darwin or Brisbane or Sydney – at a location and get that advice, get that monitoring which will reduce the number of acute incidents.
We know that where Telehealth has been trialled through the NBN, and there are trials in places like Townsville, it’s been extremely successful.
So we know that it will make a difference and that’s why today this community infrastructure announcement, as well as the rollout of the NBN, are vital for Darwin’s future.
JOURNALIST: Doctors at Royal Darwin Hospital say the Super Clinic at Palmerston hasn’t reduced pressure on the Hospital because it costs $80 dollars to get treated there, whereas the ED is free. Does Federal Labor have any plans to create more bulk billing services for the Northern Territory?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The details are a question really for the Health Minister. But what we have done is to roll out, and we make no apologies, the infrastructure including GP Super Clinics. They have been successful around the country.
We have invested as well in health upgrades. We, unlike Tony Abbott who ripped money out of the health system, have invested in the health system. We’re investing in training as well; more nurses, more doctors. That’s part of what we say when we talk about building the future where you have better health care.
We’ve expanded the facilities in terms of dental care. We are also of course expanding Medicare consistent with that to deliver Disability Care Australia. An initiative far beyond the imagination of any conservative government, and we’re now delivering it, making sure that people aren’t left behind.
So whether it’s in health, whether it’s in schools through the Better Schools plan where the local government here, the CLP, don’t want additional money for schools. That will make a difference of more than $1.5 million for every school in Darwin and Palmerston, but they didn’t sign up.
Or whether it be investing in the future in terms of the NBN and infrastructure. This is a Government that is determined to invest in jobs and growth and Luke Gosling – we want him to be part of that team along with Warren Snowden and Nova Peris.
JOURNALIST: What about upgrades to the other boat ramps around Darwin and Palmerston? This one had renovations and upgrades most recently, there’s the Dinah Beach boat ramp which doesn’t have a fence around the carpark, and the club boat ramp itself is in desperate need of an upgrade as well.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well what we’re announcing today is the upgrade here that is needed. This is a boat ramp that is used by many people, locals, and it also provides the potential for a major community facility.
If you have the kiosk here, with the caretaker’s cottage that’s envisaged in terms of the planning that’s been done, and I congratulate the club here for the fact that they have put in the hard work, they’ve done the planning work, it’s all ready to go. And that is why today this announcement will see their vision realised.
JOURNALIST: So no plans for the other boat ramps?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I’m not going to discuss every boat ramp around Australia. There are a number of them. What we are here today to do is to announce the upgrade of this boat ramp where the work has been done.
Work such as this must come up from the community. The club here has done the work, has made the representations, the Government has heard it loud and clear and the Government is prepared to back it in.
JOURNALIST: The National Party is expected to announce a Coalition Regional Development Fund today. Is there space in the budget for the Coalition to spend an extra billion dollars on the regions?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Coalition are $70 billion short. They came up with some alleged savings yesterday, which was essentially matching some of ours and then coming up with a series of new charges that they would put on.
Joe Hockey doesn’t seem to know how big the gap is. It’s time for them to come up with costings.
I have tried for six years to debate Warren Truss. Warren Truss is the alternative Deputy Prime Minister. He’s the alternative Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. And I have asked for a debate in any forum at all, and he avoided a debate for six years because he’s not prepared to put his record and his plans next to ours.
Now we have doubled the roads budget for example around Australia. And two-thirds of that roads budget goes into regional Australia. Included in that is $90 million that we’ve committed to regional roads here in the Territory. The Coalition haven’t matched that. They haven’t matched that.
They are $8 billion short on nation building infrastructure alone, according to an analysis that was done by the Financial Review. So I think it’s time they put their full costings out with all the analysis for everyone to see – like we did in the Economic Statement.
This funding here today is in the Economic Statement. It’s fully budgeted for, we know where the money comes from, it’s fully supported by the Government’s Economic Statement that we made prior to the election being called.
The Coalition can’t hide for the entire length of an election campaign and then – I’ll make a prediction for you – after the advertising campaign black out kicks in next Thursday or Friday they will produce a whole lot of paper without time for anyone to analyse it because when their minimal costings up to now have been put out and have been analysed, they have been shown to be wanting.
And remember the last election campaign where the bodgy costings that they put out, the company that had its name on it got fined. Got fined as a result of the misrepresentations that were there.
People have every right to expect transparency in an election campaign. It’s about time they got it from the Coalition.
JOURNALIST: The Opposition says the fund will be bigger and more targeted at regional areas than Labor’s schemes. Are you happy that some of the regional projects you funded are in capital cities – I’m talking about things such as the development out at the Perth Airport?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the Perth Airport project, the Gateway project that they have said they are supporting as well by the way, that’s one that they’ve said they are supporting – $686 million – they are supporting the same project with the same funding.
That’s through the regional infrastructure fund. Can I say this; they don’t have a Regional Infrastructure Fund. They don’t have it because they are going to get rid of the mining tax.
So in terms of where the funding for that is coming from, it’s not clear. But the WA Gateway project is about the roads around Perth Airport that are primarily under pressure due to the fly in, fly out workforce. That’s where the growth is occurring, it’s about imports and exports from the regions, that’s why that was funded as a priority – identified by Infrastructure Australia for the Regional Infrastructure Fund.
We have put more funding into regional communities than any government in Australia’s history, whether it be major infrastructure or whether it be community infrastructure such as this today.
JOURNALIST: I just have one more local question. The Territory Government says there’s 27 elderly patients who are creating bed block at Royal Darwin Hospital and they should be in elderly care, which the Federal Government has responsibility for. Is there any plan to create more places in aged care in the Northern Territory?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We have a ten year plan for aged care. We came up with legislation that was carried through the Parliament earlier this year that provides a pathway for increased support for our ageing population. That’s something that the former government never did. We’ve got that in place, as well as supporting innovation when it comes to looking after our elderly Australians through measures such as Tele Health; being delivered to keep people in the home.
My experience, whether it be with family or with people in the community in my electorate, or people I talk to right around Australia, what elderly people want as their first preference is to stay in the home. Our measures are very much directed at providing that assistance so that people can stay in the home for as long as possible.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.