SUBJECTS: National Bike Pathways Strategy; funding cycle path over Swan River, WA; WA infrastructure funding.
HANNAH BEAZLEY, CANDIDATE FOR SWAN: Good morning everyone. I’m Hannah Beazley, Labor’s candidate for the Federal seat of Swan. It is fantastic to be down here on the banks of the Swan and welcoming our Transport Minister Rita Saffioti and yet again our Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, as well as my neighbour over in Perth, the Member for Perth, Patrick Gorman, to make this fantastic announcement for our cycling community here in Swan and elsewhere. It’ll be incredibly helpful for all of our cyclists all around the Perth metro area, so it gives me great pleasure to introduce Anthony Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, CITIES AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Thanks very much Hannah, and it’s great to be here with Hannah Beazley, who I hope will be joining us in the Labor Caucus, joining myself and Patrick Gorman, the Member for Perth, and it’s also terrific to once again be with Rita Saffioti, who I look forward to renewing our working relationship after the election this Saturday. This project is just a ripper. I mean $23 million for a project that will cost around, about between $30 million and $35 million, for a dedicated cycle and pedestrian crossing of the river next to the Causeway. At the moment, we know that some 1,300 cyclists, some 1,000 pedestrians use this every single day, but much more would use it if they weren’t taking a risk in cycling across in amongst heavy traffic, particularly during peak times.
This comes from our $260 million National Bike Pathways Strategy. This is precisely the sort of project that we’re looking for – a game changer that will increase cycle use beyond the eight million Australians who already cycle each and every day, or every week, or every month. Whether it’s to go to work, go to school, for recreation, or just to keep fit and healthy we know that cycling has enormous advantages over other modes of transport. It’s obviously emissions free, but it also saves money on the health budget because cyclists are engaged in healthy activity and that’s why active transport is an important part of any proper consideration of how we deal with transport in our cities, or in our regions.
This stands in stark contrast to the current Government – $260 million in the National Bike Pathways Strategy from Federal Labor; zero from the Coalition Government. That’s not surprising. They put zero in during their entire six years of office. When the Howard Government was in office, they also put zero in.
We were the first Federal Government, under Kevin Rudd, to have a National Bike Pathways Fund, the first government. But this fund is many times more than that, reflecting the demand which is out there, a demand that’s good for the economy, good for health and also importantly good for safety, good for road safety. That is what this project’s about.
Today also we’re releasing our comprehensive infrastructure strategy for WA. What that shows is that a Labor Government under Bill Shorten as Prime Minister will invest an additional $460 million for WA infrastructure over the next four years. Not promises off on the Never Never – over four years. So it’s very clear that what we’ll see in partnership with the McGowan Labor Government is more cranes in the sky, more people operating bulldozers, more work, workers but also dealing with projects that have been identified as a priority, particularly of course METRONET but not METRONET alone.
We’ll work on the highways here in Perth, as well as important projects in places like Bunbury, and Albany, Karratha, right throughout the state of WA. It’s about time that WA got its fair share. It’s not good enough for the Coalition Government to come here and cut ribbons for projects like Gateway WA that were funded and begun and almost completed by the former Labor Government. But that’s what they’ve relied upon. It’s not good enough to change the name of the Swan Valley Bypass to North Link and pretend it’s a new project that was funded by them. It wasn’t.
The fact is that there is no major infrastructure project underway in WA that was begun under the current Government after two full terms in office. It’s time to end the chaos and the division. It’s time to get a government that’s focused on the needs of West Australians, not the needs of fighting each other. The fact that Julie Bishop, WA’s most senior politician, wasn’t even invited to the Liberal Party campaign launch yesterday says it all about the chaos that is at the heart of this Government. It’s time it be put to rest. They need time in Opposition to get their act together, where they can stop fighting each other and actually get on with the business of being a proper political party that’s focused outwards rather than inwards.
RITA SAFFIOTI: Thank you. A great pleasure to be here this morning for what is a very significant announcement for cycling in WA and also for the Perth and Swan areas. The WA Government has made a significant commitment and the biggest commitment ever to cycling infrastructure throughout WA. Our Budget handed down last week had $146 million over the next four years to improve cycle paths throughout the suburbs and throughout the regions. But one project that was very big and that we needed extra support on was this new Causeway Bridge project. Now this is a big project but a project that’s been a priority for, I know, the cycling community for many years and it’s these types of projects that need support from the Federal Government and it’s great to have a Federal Opposition committing today $23 million to this project.
What this is actually signalling is that cycling is a core part of our transport message across the nation and to have Anthony Albanese here committing to this cycling, to this cycling infrastructure, I think is very important. It sends a signal to all Western Australians, but to all Australians that a Federal Opposition, a Shorten Government, will be interested in all modes of transport. So this is a very, very significant project. It’s a project that would have been too hard without Federal Government or Federal Opposition support. And that’s why we look forward to working with a Shorten Federal Government to deliver this project. Any questions? Any questions?
JOURNALIST: If Shorten is elected and that funding comes, comes to fruition will the State Government fund the rest through that, through that investment over four years?
SAFFIOTI: Yes. Over the four years we have some funds through the dedicated PSP Fund. So we believe that we can have there funds with, which sit within the existing forward estimates, to free up, to help fund this. We’ll also talk to the councils but look as you know anyone has walked across this bridge at any time, it isn’t wide enough to carry the pedestrian and the cyclists. There is basically significant congestion. I mean, when you look across the network, this is one of those pinch points that the cycling community raise with me all the time. So we look forward to working with a Federal Shorten Government to actually deliver this commitment.
JOURNALIST: Do you have a timeframe on the project?
SAFFIOTI: Well, we have to go into some planning, so we believe will take approximately a year or two of planning and then to start construction. Look, this is an exciting opportunity. We need to get the planning and all the approvals through, but we believe we’ll take about two years to plan and to organise this project.
ALBANESE: I love Perth. As people know I’m a regular visitor here. I think this is my sixth visit this year and I do that every year. This is a great city for cycling. You see it, this magnificent backdrop here. Why wouldn’t you want to enjoy this natural environment. And Perth is well positioned to take advantage of our program. And the thing is, is it, WA is doing more. WA and Victoria, really are the big two states that are really pushing cycling and active transport and that’s a very good thing. We want to partner with state governments who are doing the right thing, in terms of infrastructure. In WA we have good partners and this would make an enormous difference to the funding. Our funding will be available as soon as the planning is completed for this project.
We’ve made sure that we’ve made that provision in the Budget and we can do this because we’re closing tax loopholes for the big end of town. That’s what’s opening up the scope for us to invest in hospitals, to invest in schools, to invest in infrastructure and we’re able to do that. Our fully funded plan, as released last Friday, shows that not only will you get better schools, you’ll get better hospitals, you’ll get better infrastructure. You’ll also have a bigger budget surplus under Labor.
JOURNALIST: Minister, can I just ask?
JOURNALIST: Will this project still go ahead if Labor don’t win the Federal election on Saturday?
SAFFIOTI: Well, as we said, this type of project can’t be accommodated within our Budget. So we need support of the Federal Government, the Federal tier of government. So this is dependent on the election of a Shorten Labor Government.
JOURNALIST: Will you be asking the Coalition to help contribute if it goes their way on Saturday?
SAFFIOTI: I’m not going into hypotheticals. I’m out here today looking at what is a great project and if people want to support cycling infrastructure in WA they have to vote Labor.
JOURNALIST: Can you just tell us and I guess there’s no plans, but so it’s the bridge behind you that’s going to be widened?
SAFFIOTI: Yeah, what we’re looking at is actually creating a dedicated bridge alongside the Causeway that would be basically for pedestrians and cyclists, so a new bridge alongside the Causeway. We have had some preliminary works done on it, some preliminary work done on the costing of it and we believe, as I said, this is one that has been talked about, similar to other projects that we’re delivering, for a long time. And look, if you look at the finishing of the Matagarup Bridge, the new Fremantle traffic bridge that Federal Labor’s also committed to. These are new ways, new paths for cyclists and pedestrians to get safely across the river.
ALBANESE: The other point is, by having a dedicated cycle way and pedestrian bridge, what it will do is promote in itself. It will be an ad for cycling each and every day permanently here. There’s heritage considerations why you can’t just extend, widen the existing bridge. So I see this as a project that is totemic for cycling here in WA and indeed for the nation. It’s one whereby people will have a look. There’s a dedicated cycle way. It will encourage cycling, not just on it, in itself, but I think throughout the community.
JOURNALIST: Would you then remove that walkway there, on the actual bridge, or is that too early to say?
SAFFIOTI: Look, I’ll leave all that up to the engineers and the design, so we’ll go in to, if the result goes the right way on Saturday, we’ll go into the detailed planning. There’ll be investigations and all that work undertaken.
JOURNALIST: Minister, is there any update on the kangaroo situation on New Lord Street, through Whiteman Park?
SAFFIOTI: Yes, so Main Roads, in consultation with the Whiteman Park Authority is installing the fences on the eastern side, to try and prevent the kangaroos crossing in that area. There was, a management of the issue worked out before the road was constructed, but basically there’s more kangaroos trying to cross that path. So new fencing is being installed to stop those kangaroos crossing in that key point.
JOURNALIST: Minister, could you explain if the State Government will be funding an extra lane on Mitchell Freeway?
SAFFIOTI: Is this in response to …
JOURNALIST: The section …
SAFFIOTI: Hodges to Hepburn?
JOURNALIST: Yes, near Joondalup.
SAFFIOTI: Look, this was a complete misfire by Christian Porter and Federal Liberal Government. As I recall, it was International Women’s Day that the new Prime Minister came over and announced $50 million for smart freeways on Mitchell and Kwinana at the time. They then put it in the Budget and we matched it. So we put $50 million, there’s $100 million for that freeway project in the Budget. I think last month, the Member for Pearce, Christian Porter, went out saying that they had secured funding in the Budget for this project, and where’s our money?
And it was a complete … it was very misleading. And so in relation to this project, I can say this. The Federal Government put $50 million in for freeway projects. We have matched that. But the idea that this specific project was funded in the Budget is simply wrong. And Christian Porter was caught out and he was embarrassed. So now he’s calling us to match something in the Budget that isn’t, that doesn’t exist, but we look forward to working with a Shorten Labor Government to continue to improve the freeway system and to add lanes, widen and introduce new technology across the system.
JOURNALIST: So you guys have the money to add that extra lane, is that what you’re saying?
SAFFIOTI: What I’m saying is they didn’t put the extra lane in the Budget. That’s, that’s what happened. They put $50 million towards freeway projects and we have matched that. But what happened, is there was a question in Parliament that was put to me about this project. I outlined that Christian Porter had been unsuccessful in getting this project funded in the Budget and then they retrofitted the budget to claim that this project had been funded. But all that aside, the fact that Christian Porter failed to secure that funding in the Budget. State Labor has matched a $50 million in the budget, there’s $100 million in the Budget for freeway projects. And we look forward to working with a Shorten Labor Government to improving the freeway system.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.