Subjects: Rockhampton Ring Road, Michelle Landry, live exports
RUSSELL ROBERTSON: I’m excited to have Anthony here today to announce this great project, another great project driven by the Labor Party about really bringing services and infrastructure to Capricornia. It shows again that we understand what the regions need and we are going to make sure that we deliver on all of these projects and only a Labor Government in the future can deliver on this projects. I am going to hand over to Anthony to touch on more around the specifics of the project.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. It is great to be here – back here – in Rockhampton with Russell Robertson – Robbo – our candidate for Capricornia and it is also good to be here with Murray, my parliamentary colleague from Canberra and Barry from the State Government. A Federal Labor Government will partner with the Queensland Government to deliver the Rockhampton Ring Road.
We undertook a study that we commissioned in 2009 that reported in December, 2011. What it found was that the long-term solution in terms of flood issues, in terms of congestion here through the CBD of Rockhampton was the Ring Road and that is why we have committed to this vital project. It follows of course the commitment that we have made already to the Rockhampton-to-Yeppoon Road Duplication Stage I.
It follows of course the massive amount of work that we did when we were in Government through the Yeppen Floodplain, the bridge, the other work that we did that the current Government has tried to take credit for even though they haven’t put in any additional dollars for those projects.
Now we have had five years in which the current Government under Scott Morrison, the latest version of the ATM Government – Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison – have taken deposits from the people of Rockhampton and Central Queensland into their ATM Government, but they haven’t taken anything out. They haven’t put back into the community and Federal Labor will do just that. We know from a leak that they have planned to do something, they just haven’t actually announced it or put dollars in the Budget. And when they have announced funding it has either been just replicating funding that Federal Labor already had in the Budget or it has been off in the Never Never.
It took a Federal Labor Government to get serious about the Bruce Highway and it will take a Federal Labor Government once again to take the needs of regional Queensland, and Central Queensland in particular, into account. So I am very proud that we would be able to step up if we’re successful in the election, whenever it’s held over the next six months. We’ll be committed to doing the next step following on from the work that we did when we were last in government that has made such a big difference here in Central Queensland. And I look forward to having Robbo as a member of the Caucus – someone who is committed to his local community, someone who is an outstanding candidate and who would make a big impact in Canberra. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: I have a question for Barry though – can you run us through the update on this project at a state level? Obviously it is mainly a State Government thing.
BARRY O’ROURKE: This is a step in the right direction. We’re finally starting to get the project underway. We’ve now seen the Federal Labor Government commit to this project. You know people living in Rockhampton we’re aware of the struggles that we have with all the trucks coming through town and it’s some 60 odd intersections that a traveller travelling through Rockhampton has to go through. So this Ring Road will be essential for our community – hopefully reduce some of the congestion and we’ll end up with that third bridge out of town.
JOURNALIST: Do you know the latest with TMR? What they’re doing at the moment?
O’ROURKE: At the present time, TMR I know have been doing a lot of work around the land acquisition stuff and doing that planning work to be able to get on with that project.
JOURNALIST: So Anthony sorry, Michelle Landry said they’d committed something like $65 million towards the land acquisitions and what not – design – so in a way they’re already sort of getting on with it.
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that they’ve been in government since 2013. They’ve had five Budgets to put money into the Budget for construction of this Ring Road. A great deal of credit goes to Kirsten Livermore, who was a champion of this project when she was the Member for Capricornia.
And the difference between a Labor Member – and Robbo would fit that mantle that Kirsten Livermore had – and Michelle Landry and the Nats is that a Labor Member for this region actually delivers concrete and steel, not just talk. And the Yeppen Floodplain is a great example of that whereby the current local Member pretended that she had something to do with that even though construction was begun here. I was here with Julia Gillard, you’ll have footage and photos of the construction that was taking place there – came along, pretended that she had something to do with it. It was all fully funded and we of course were always going to complete that project. It’s the logical thing to do, and then to move on to the Ring Road.
But nothing’s happened under this Government in terms of advancing this project and indeed this Government have just taken the money that we had in our 2013 Budget for the Bruce Highway and have been complacent and have just sat on that, whether it be this project, the Mackay Ring Road, whether it be the works around Townsville, whether it be the works right up and down this vital highway here in Queensland.
So this is a Government that has been complacent. We know that when John Howard was in Government they put $1.3 billion into the Bruce Highway over 12 long years. And we put four times that into the Bruce in half the time. So we increased funding eight-fold for the Bruce. And we would deliver once again. We’d be committed. The fact is they’ve had a Budget. They had a Budget in May. They had an opportunity in May to put money in that Budget for this project and they haven’t.
JOURNALIST: I’ve just got something that Michelle Landry said today: “the Labor Party has only become aware of the Ring Road, which promises to deliver jobs and a third bridge over Fitzroy since I started advocating for it. They did the same thing on Rookwood Weir and I’m sure they will do the same on the next thing I talk about. It’s this ridiculous piggy-back politics that central Queenslanders are tired of”. What do you have to say about this allegation of piggy-backing on their ideas?
ALBANESE: The idea that people are sitting listening to Michelle Landry shows a lack of self-awareness on behalf of Michelle Landry, with respect. The fact is that it is Federal Labor – I was the Minister- who commissioned the study. It had been talked about, the Ring Road, for a long period of time. The study that identified the route, that identified the third crossing, that identified all the works that had to take place was commissioned by me and received by me.
Just like the Yeppen Floodplain work was promised, funded and built by the former Federal Labor Government, working in cooperation with, I was prepared to work with either the State Labor Government here in Queensland or, indeed, the State Coalition Government as well. I wasn’t interested in playing politics. I was interested in outcomes and the fact is that it is Federal Labor that has advanced this project in partnership with State Labor. That was when the project was commissioned, that was when we did the Yeppen Floodplain in cooperation. And for Michelle Landry to suggest that somehow she was out there in advance of this project ignores the fact that she has been in Government for two terms.
In the two terms, in which I was the Minister, have a look at what we actually got done. Promised, built, opened right up and down Queensland. And we did that by basically tripling the funding for infrastructure that the Commonwealth was giving here in Queensland and, in particular, in regional Queensland.
JOURNALIST: Just a quick question for Russell. Michelle has been calling you out today about not just coal mining but also live exports and wanting to know what you thought about Derryn Hinch foreshadowing that cattle live exports were next. And I was just wondering about what you thought about the whole banning of live exports and where you draw the line or what you feel about that issue?
ROBERTSON: Well the Labor Party’s committed to banning sheep and I think this is where the local Member is getting lost. So we’ve committed to banning sheep. We’re committed to the live export market as long as it’s done humanely, as long as it’s followed per the legislation. And again, around the coal, Michelle keeps concentrating on the coal owners, how about we focus on the people who are struggling? How about we focus on those people who make the coal industry work, which is the workers. We’ve seen the scourge of casualisation continue and not a peep from the local Member. So we need to get away from worrying about coal owners’ pockets and start focussing on the workers who are struggling today.
ALBANESE: Thank you. Thanks everyone.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.