Subjects: Park and Ride; Tarneit station; rail upgrades; Coalition chaos and dysfunction; veterans’ affairs; climate change; Nauru.
JOANNE RYAN: I’d like to welcome everybody here this morning to the Federal electorate of Lalor. Of course, we are at the Tarneit station. With me today I have Federal Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese. I have the Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, Minister Hutchins, the local member for Sydenham, and Labor State candidate for Tarneit Sarah Connolly today to talk about infrastructure announcements in Victoria.Thank you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well thanks very much Jo and it is great to be back here at Tarneit Station and this of course this has a great deal of sentimentality for me as a Sydneysider because this is the site of the largest-ever Federal public transport investment in Australia’s history since Federation – the Regional Rail Link, a project which has transformed this part of Melbourne at a time when the Federal Government used to fund infrastructure here in Victoria.
We know that in 2017-18 the amount of dollars for infrastructure coming to Victoria from Canberra was 7.7 per cent. We know that Victoria has 25 percent of the country’s population. Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city. Victoria is Australia’s fastest growing state. But Victoria has been doing it alone when it comes to the big projects and I am very proud of this project and this announcement today of $15 million – half shared by the Victorian State Government and a commitment from Federal Labor – to fund half of the Park and Ride upgrade for between an additional 400 to 500 additional parking spots here. It will make an enormous difference.
We support investment in public transport, but we have also got to facilitate access to that public transport. There’s a fantastic active transport component to this station with a lock-up bike facility. But in addition we do need extra parking spaces in part because this has been such a successful project. So we look forward to working with the Victorian Government and one of the things that we have done is to establish this $300 million Park and Ride facility – good for jobs in construction in the short term, but importantly to facilitate access to public transport here in Melbourne but right around our cities right around the nation.
TIM PALLAS: Thanks very much Anthony and can I say you really did make me get just a touch sentimental there remembering what we used to do when we worked together in co-operation – State and Federal Labor – and you will probably get no greater demonstration of the achievements that we were able to deliver when you look at the Regional Rail Link, a vital piece of infrastructure that quite frankly you couldn’t imagine this community being able to function without. But it could function better and as a Government we are pleased to say that we will operate in co-operation with a future Federal Labor Government and out of $150 million Car Parks for Commuters fund we will provide a capacity for an upgrade of 1600 cars parks right across the western suburbs – so whether it is Werribee, Wyndam Vale, Watergardens or Tarneit. Here in Tarneit we are looking to almost a 50 percent increase in the capacity of this car park and we hope to be able to do it of course with a future Federal Labor Government. Just as we built these facilities we can get on and deliver the thing that the community have been most insistent about. They recognise that we are improving the number of train services into the area – 78 extra train services into Werribee, on the Werribee Line, over 300 extra train services on the Geelong line and 31 extra services on the Sunbury Line. We are massively increasing the capacity for the accessibility of the city, but more needs to be done. And that is why we are pleased to work in co-operation with a future Federal Labor Government.
Of course our commitment will stand and we will deliver these projects regardless, because you need ultimately to be able to say who will stand behind the delivery of these things. If we are elected, an Andrews Labor Government will commit sufficient funds out of our $150 million Car Parks for Commuters Fund to ensure that 1600 extra car parks in these four western suburbs stations are delivered. That will see a minimum of 50 per cent increase in capacity across those car parks and indeed, in respect of for example Werribee, it will see a doubling of capacity. So it really is a demonstration of a Government that recognises that we have done a lot; we promised before the last election that we would add 5000 car parks to the metropolitan network. We in fact delivered 10,000. So our Car Parks for Commuters projects will, if elected, deliver a further 11,000 car parks right across the metropolitan network. This is critically important to ensure that we can give options for people to get out of their cars and make their way to the City and where they need to work in way that is both efficient and also ensures that they can utilise these great facilities in a much more effective way.
ALBANESE: We might just take some questions on this first and then other Federal issues and Tim will handle State.
REPORTER: How much of that $150 million is actually going toward today’s announcement?
PALLAS: Well I did a bit of a back-of-the-envelope calculation on this because, as you would appreciate, we are going to have to go through design processes. I think three of the four stations we’ll be looking at multi-deck options. What we expect therefore is that about 15 per cent of the total $150 million fund will be devoted to the delivery of this project. So it is about $22.5 million.
REPORTER: If you are increasing capacity for parking by 50 percent does that mean that the number of new services will balance out to another 50 per cent?
PALLAS: Well I don’t think there is a direct correlation but I think it is true to say that we have massively increased the services up until now and we recognise that this is a growing community and we are going to have to continue to improve the quality of services. That is why as a Government we have recently announced of course our Western Suburban Rail Upgrade program. That is why we are in the process of recognising that we have to make an investment to improve and upgrade the access to Melbourne Airport using Sunshine as a hub and ultimately electrify the line to Wyndham Vale, looking at the potential for both connecting Wyndam Vale to Weeibee and might I say making sure that the services to the community as it grows adequately meet their needs.
REPORTER: When will the lines out here be electrified?
PALLAS: Well we have indicated that will be sequenced in a way consistent with the upgrade to the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. Melbourne Airport Link has to come first because the electrification of the outer western suburbs will be part of our upgrade both for the Sunshine Station and ultimately for the fast rail to Geelong. So our strategy, which was released about two week ago by the Premier, basically identifies a ten-year package of investment that delivers all of these outcomes.
ALBANESE: Can I make some comments on a couple of Federal issues that are out an about today, including Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister is announcing today a proposal for a new Veterans’ card. Federal Labor welcomes any additional support for veterans. It is unfortunate that when he was Treasurer Scott Morrison presided over a $400 million cut in services including dental and other health services for our veterans. In the lead up to Remembrance Day, on November 11, those commemorations, it is vital that we as a nation remember the sacrifice of veterans and their families. Hence we would support any positive move from the Prime Minister to provide additional assistance to veterans. We’d ask that at this time he consider giving bipartisan support to proposals that we have put forward.
Once again, Labor has been leading from Opposition on issues including calling for a Veterans’ Employment Program, so that we can assist veterans into jobs once they leave the defence forces. Support for families is particularly important at times where that support is needed and also we’ve called for the establishment of a Western Front Fellowship as well.
These are practical issues that we are forwarding. We’d call upon the Government to engage with us in a bipartisan way so that the veterans’ community can have certainty going forward about any support that can be offered; either by government or some of today’s announcement is about companies providing discounts to veterans. We would also call upon the private sector to do its bit to provide support to veterans.
In addition, today, we’ve had a rather extraordinary front page of – not ironic, not a satirical magazine – Tony Abbott calling for unity amongst Liberal Party members. This is somewhat ironic given Tony Abbott is the great wrecker of Australian politics and has been identified as such by people on his own side. But, not satisfied with wrecking the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott is now intervening in the British Conservative Party over the Brexit issue in order to create division and dysfunction over there in addition to that, which is already there around the Brexit issue. I’d say to Tony Abbott that actions speak louder than words. He said that there’d be no sniping, no undermining when he lost the leadership of the Liberal Party. And he has done nothing but that since.
The Liberal Party, we saw again this week, are a chaotic government. When Scott Morrison said that he didn’t want to be a hokey-pokey Prime Minister, moving to the left, moving to the right, what he really identified is that he is incapable of leading on any issues because of the division and dysfunction that’s there in his Government.
No wonder he described it himself as a Muppet Government. Well today’s Tony Abbott declaration is the Muppet declaration of this particular weekend, but we can look forward to more dysfunction and more chaos in the weeks and months to come. This is why, really, Scott Morrison needs to consider whether in fact he is in a position to govern in the national interest or whether he should be just calling an election.
REPORTER: What do you make of Prince Harry’s speech overnight calling for more action on climate change?
ALBANESE: Well Prince Harry is a part of what everyone knows is the scientific consensus. Prince Harry, it’s not surprising, like Prince Charles who has been a very strong advocate for action on climate change, Prince Harry is showing leadership. It’s a pity that the Morrison Government won’t listen, not just to Prince Harry but, more importantly, to the scientists. We do need to act, we know that the cost of inaction means that down the track it will cost even more, in terms of the economy. But, even more importantly, it will cost more in terms of our environment.
Australia is particularly impacted, the land of drought and flooding, by climate change and extreme weather events. What we need is a Government that is committed to having climate change action. The fact that this Government still doesn’t have an energy policy is quite extraordinary and the fact that Prince Harry has seen fit to intervene in this debate shows that he is someone who cares about the environment. Just as, I pay tribute to the incredible job that he and Meghan Markle have played in the Invictus Games and in raising awareness of the need to look after our veterans and respect them.
REPORTER: There’s a protest in the city today to get children off Nauru. There’s been a bit of rumblings at a Federal level. Is the Government moving fast enough to get those kids off?
ALBANESE: The Government isn’t moving fast enough. They have an agreement, an offer, from New Zealand that has been on the table for a long time. And this week in Senate Estimates we had confirmed, yet again, that it doesn’t need special legislation in order for the Government to essentially stop people coming to Australia who might be settled in New Zealand. They can do it simply by putting people on a list. The fact is that these children, in particular, have been on Nauru and Manus for far too long.
I think that Australians are increasingly concerned with these issues. You can have strong borders without losing our national soul. The fact that children have been on Manus and Nauru for five years is far too long and we should listen to the medical experts. We have doctors saying, speaking of the mental anguish that is being caused and trauma to these children. They haven’t done anything wrong. These are just little kids and they deserve a bit of compassion and common sense. The fact that the New Zealand option is available to the Government today should be taken up.
REPORTER: If you win the next election, what will happen to those children if they’re still on Nauru?
ALBANESE: Well we want them off. We want them off. The fact is that they should be dealt with immediately by this Government. They have options to deal with that. They have the option of New Zealand, which is there. Let’s not talk about what happens to these kids in 2019; we have medical advice saying that they need urgent assistance and the Government should respond to that medical advice.
REPORTER: Nat, just a quick one from you, if that’s all right. How much of an issue is parking at train stations in your electorate?
MEMBER FOR SYDENHAM, NATALIE HUTCHINS: This is the single biggest issue in my electorate at the moment and we see many, many families relying on the need to get a car park. If you have a look at the cars that are in our car parks around stations in the outer western suburbs, you see baby seats, you see backpacks of kids and that’s because they’re working parents who are driving to the station, getting to their job, coming home, needing their cars to go straight to picking up their kids. And that’s why the car parking issue is so important to working families. But also we are seeing unprecedented growth in the outer west across all the way from Wyndham Vale across to Calder Park and we’ve got to keep up. This is a fantastic announcement today; 500 new car parks in my area is going to be an absolute game changer for people that commute into the city every day.
REPORTER: Will it be enough to cater for that extreme growth we’re seeing?
HUTCHINS: We’re going to have to keep planning and certainly keep pace with the new estates that are going in, but this is a great step forward for people in the western suburbs
REPORTER: How much does it affect people’s ability to actually work if they can’t park at a train station?
HUTCHINS: It is about that balance for them between work and family, I think is the really important issue. Quite often people say, “well why can’t people just get on buses and go to the station or ride their bike?’’ Well if in fact they’ve got responsibilities after work to pick up kids from childcare, school, after school care, they need their cars and they need to be able to park them safely during the day close to a station. Thanks.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.