Subject: WA infrastructure; public transport; Armadale Road; Denny Avenue; Mandurah Train Station; Canning by-election; Malcolm Turnbull
MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: We’re here on Denny Avenue in Kelmscott, a very dangerous and congested piece of road infrastructure in this area. Just this week there was another traffic accident here. There’s been an accident nearly every week of the campaign. There was a fatality at that intersection just down there only a month ago.
What I’m really happy about is to have Anthony Albanese here with me today to talk about Labor’s commitment to fixing up roads like this in the electorate. Labor has committed that in government it will put $25 million towards fixing up this intersection, by closing up this level crossing, which is dangerous with all of the roads intersecting here, and putting in a grade separated underpass, under the railway, so that we’ve got safer roads in our community. That’s vitally important.
This is an issue that the people of Kelmscott and Armadale have been calling to be addressed for a decade. It’s great that as part of this campaign the Labor Party has committed to fixing this issue. This is only one of the many infrastructure commitments that we have made during this campaign, because the Labor Party is about public transport. It’s about investing in rail. It’s about helping people get to their jobs and getting to training opportunities.
That’s why we’ve also spoken about extending the railway down to Byford, so that the new growing areas of Byford where many people now live will have access to public transport, and access to rail.
Today I was at Armadale Train Station and many people that had to catch some of the few buses that come up from Byford were complaining to me about this issue. They were very happy to hear about that extension plan.
We’ve also committed $10 million toward 300 new car bays at Mandurah Railway Station so that people can actually park to get to the train. At the moment, that car park fills up by 8.00am, if not earlier.
For people who need to catch a train later, people who need to drop their kids at school, it’s almost impossible for them to get access to the train and this funding commitment will make it easier for people to use public transport together with our other infrastructure commitment of $145 million towards the upgrade of Armadale Road.
Armadale Road is a vital connecting road for the people in the Armadale/Kelmscott area and Piara Waters and Harrisdale. Out to the freeway, and out to the job centres of Cockburn and Henderson. We’re really pleased to be making that commitment. Not only does it make the road safer, not only does it relieve congestion, but it’s also about creating jobs. We’ll have about 1700 jobs that will come out of that project.
Labor’s committed to making sure that we’re able to provide employment and increase the job opportunities in this area. I’d like to note we’ve had some me-tooism in this campaign where the Liberal Party’s tried to catch up with the things that the Labor Party has said that we’ll do in this area. But I really question now, what do those commitments amount to now that we’ve seen a change in leadership? I’m going to hand over now to Anthony.
I’m really pleased to have him here as part of this campaign to say some more about our infrastructure projects.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Matt. It’s terrific to be back here in Canning and in the great city of Perth in Western Australia to emphasise Labor’s commitment to infrastructure. Here in Canning, and throughout Perth, you can’t deal with urban congestion unless you have projects that deal with roads and rail.
Today the challenge for Malcolm Turnbull is to actually put his money where his mouth is when it comes to public transport. Malcolm Turnbull gets on trains and gets on buses. But he needs to fund trains and fund buses.
The Coalition Government withdrew when they came to office, with Malcolm Turnbull’s support, $500 million that was allocated in the forward estimates in the Budget by the former federal Labor Government. We did that because we understand that if our cities are going to function properly, people, particularly those in outer suburban areas, need access to good, safe, public transport.
That’s why we funded projects like Perth City Link. That’s why we are committed to funding rail here in Perth. That’s why we also of course are committed to road funding. Now, it is quite extraordinary that on Sunday, Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister, purported to open the Gateway WA project.
Of course, that was funded by the former Labor Government in 2011. It’s a project that isn’t completed, in fact, won’t be completed ’til next year, but they were so desperate for an infrastructure announcement after more than two years in office that they had to have an opening for a project that actually isn’t completed.
Now, not only have they not begun a single new infrastructure project since the Coalition Government was elected, be it road or rail here in Perth. The fact is that they withdrew that half a billion of funding. Malcolm Turnbull should today say that half a billion dollars in funding will be put back. Some of that, of course, can be used to extend the rail line to Byford.
REPORTER: Was last night’s biggest loser Tony Abbott or Labor given the unpopularity of Tony Abbott was a big help to you?
ALBANESE: The problem here isn’t who the leader is. The problem is the government. The problem is the policies of the government. Malcolm Turnbull has adopted those same policies. He supported the cuts to education. He supported the cuts to health. He supported the cuts to public transport. You can change the leader, but you haven’t changed the message.
Malcolm Turnbull, in order to secure the support of some of his colleagues in the party room, is now repudiating his own position on climate change, on marriage equality, on all of these issues that he stood up on in the past. I think what people want out of their politicians is people who are fair dinkum. They’re sick of the spin. You can change the messenger, but if the spin is the same, then that doesn’t solve the fundamental problems with this government.
In Matt Keogh, we have a candidate who’s articulate, who’s smart, who’s committed, who is local, and who will stand up for this local community. He made sure that he secured those commitments for this electorate early in the campaign. This is my second visit here in the last few weeks, and I know from talking to people with Matt at Mandurah Railway Station the issues that were there regarding commuter parking, the issues that people spoke to me about at that train station with Matt. Matt’s responded and I believe that he will get an outstanding result next Saturday.
REPORTER: Do you expect Malcolm Turnbull can achieve much policy change (inaudible) through the Senate?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s a bad party. He has a bad party room. That party room hasn’t changed. What’s happened now is that Malcolm has changed. He’s changed his views to suit his party room and he has, I think, put his own personal advancement before the issues that he has advanced for so long.
Malcolm Turnbull has been an advocate of a price on carbon for a very long time. Malcolm Turnbull has been an advocate of marriage equality. Now he says the Parliament shouldn’t make that decision. I think that Australians want politicians who will stand up for their beliefs – through the swings and roundabouts, through the highs and lows, who will be consistent over a period of time.
The challenge for Malcolm Turnbull is to actually be consistent and to come clean about what commitments were given in order to secure votes in the party room.
REPORTER: Is Bill Shorten’s job safe now, or does Labor need to change its strategy?
ALBANESE: Labor is a united party. We are a political party that have gotten on with the job of putting forward our positions in a clear way. This morning I was at a tourism event in the Swan Valley. We’ve had a plan for tourism out there since I became the Shadow Tourism Minister.
On cities, I gave an address to the National Press Club a year ago outlining a ten point plan for our cities. Part of that, of course, was investment in busting urban congestion; the sort of projects that we’ve got here in Denny Avenue; the sort of projects that we have in terms of Armadale Road and the Community Connect South project; the sort of commitments that we have with the $2 million commitment to the Outer Harbour.
The Coalition has a project in terms of the Perth Freight Link, where the state Liberal Government of Premier Barnett is saying that they don’t know what the route is for the final stage. They don’t know where the funding will be. The planning hasn’t been done. Yet they’ve put money in the Budget not this year, but last year, and absolutely nothing has happened. I think people are very tired of this government. They have changed the spokesperson but the issues remain.
REPORTER: Matt Keogh, do you think that your job’s harder now, after the change of leadership?
KEOGH: My job right now is exactly the same as it was before. I’ve been talking to voters yesterday and today. Their issues remain the same. Their concerns are about the cuts that they’ve seen to their schools, the cuts that they’ve seen to their hospitals, the GP tax, $100,000 university degrees. They are things that Malcolm Turnbull has said that he unequivocally believes in and supports.
So my job is the same. I’m going to continue over the next four days of the campaign to talk to voters about the issues that are of concern to them, and taking the fight up to the government in saying, “You’re wrong. Your priorities are wrong, they’re as wrong under Malcolm Turnbull as they were under Mr Abbott.” That’s what people are coming to me about during this campaign.
REPORTER: Given your big commitments rely on a Labor Government being elected, hasn’t your job to deliver for the people of Canning become more difficult over the past 24 hours, given that Malcolm Turnbull is more likely to win an election than Tony Abbott?
KEOGH: Not at all. We’ve given commitments about what Labor will do for this area in Government. The real question is, why has the Liberal Government abandoned this area for so long and done nothing until a by-election is called?
REPORTER: If Abbott was your biggest advantage though, has this cost you votes?
KEOGH: I think my advantage was getting onto the ground, talking to people about the issues that concerned them. The issues haven’t changed at all. They’re still talking about the cuts to education, they’re concerned about education assistance being taken out of their school kids, they’re concerned about the cuts to our hospitals.
Over $2 million have been taken out of hospitals in the Canning area and that’s a key concern. People want to be able to get access to their doctors, and the GP tax makes that harder. It puts more pressure on our hospitals. They don’t want $100,000 university degrees – all things that Malcolm Turnbull supports.
REPORTER: What do you think voters out here will make of last night’s events?
KEOGH: I think they would be really concerned about a dysfunctional government. It’s something that has been coming out through the media over the last few weeks that there’s real dysfunction in this government.
And I think what they’ve seen writ large last night and today is the real dysfunction and disunity within that Government, that really underlies the broken promises and the wrong direction the Government’s been heading in the last two years.
REPORTER: (inaudible) five point bump for the Liberals, what do you make of that?
KEOGH: What I’m concerned about over the next few days is this by-election and talking to the people of Canning about the issues that are of concern to them, as I’ve already outlined.
Those things haven’t changed. I’ve been talking to them yesterday and today. People still have the same concerns about broken promises of this Government.
REPORTER: So how prepared was your campaign for this leadership change? Do you feel prepared for this change?
KEOGH: We’re completely prepared for the change because at the end of the day people are concerned about the direction of the Liberal Government. It’s the same Liberal Government, it’s the same broken promises and our campaign strategy remains the same.
It’s about talking to people about their concerns, the things that they don’t like about this government, it’s broken promises, it’s cuts to their essential services, that they don’t like.
This Government is still committed to those things that they don’t like.
REPORTER: Andrew Hastie has said that voters in Canning are losing faith in the political class – do you agree with that?
KEOGH: I think people in Australia have always had a degree of scepticism about their political leaders and that’s a really good thing about our democracy, that people look at their political leaders and want to make sure that they’re doing the right thing by them.
What they’ve seen over the last two years is that they’ve had a government that stood up in front of them and said we’re not going to cut these services, we’re not going to cut schools, we’re not going to cut hospitals, we’re not going to cut pensions.
That’s what the Government told the people of Canning. And what they’ve seen is cuts to pensions, cuts to schools, cuts to hospitals. They are rightly concerned about the politicians that are leading them in this Government.
REPORTER: Is the Liberal Party now going to try use a leadership switch as an excuse to run away from their previous history of those Budget cuts?
KEOGH: What the Liberal Party does is up to the Liberal Party. What they can’t deny is Malcolm Turnbull unequivocally signed up to the cuts to schools, cuts to benefits, cuts to pensions, their $100,000 university degrees.
Malcolm Turnbull was unequivocal in supporting all of those things that the Government has done.
REPORTER: Mr Albanese, are you concerned for a Federal Labor perspective that Malcolm Turnbull could prove to be a far more formidable opponent at next year’s election?
ALBANESE: Regardless of what you think of Tony Abbott, and I was opposed to many of his views, at least he went and fulfilled his commitments on climate change. He was against it. He was a sceptic.
Now we have Malcolm Turnbull and people will be asking themselves – you asked previously about disillusionment with the political class – people will be pretty disillusioned if Malcolm Turnbull turns his back on the policies that he’s held for his political engagement over many years.
We’ve seen that immediately. It’s very clear that the cuts stay, all the bad policies stay under Malcolm Turnbull that existed under Tony Abbott. The difference is, at least Tony Abbott believed in them.
REPORTER: What about the prospect of Scott Morrison as Treasurer?
ALBANESE: That’s a decision for the Liberal Party, but having been through these sorts of issues in the past, and I opposed the change that we did when Labor unseated a first term elected Prime Minister, one of the reasons why I did that in 2010 was I knew what it would lead to in terms of instability.
The idea that it’s business as usual today in the Coalition Government is just farcical. The fact is this is a Government that is at war with itself.
This is a Government where many of the senior members of that Government can’t stand the person that has been elected to lead that political party. It’s very clear that a number of senior members in the Government promised both Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott that they would vote for them in last night’s ballot, which is why Tony Abbott was confident going into that ballot.
Those things don’t just wash through the system. What that leads to is dysfunctional government. They will be a dysfunctional government until the next election when they’ll be put out of their misery.
REPORTER: Are you speaking from experience there Mr Albanese?
ALBANESE: There is no doubt, I’m not talking in retrospect here. In 2010 when we changed Government, it caused ongoing issues. It doesn’t just stop. That’s why it is so vital that now we have a real distinction – a Labor Party that is united, a Labor Party that has a sense of purpose, a Labor Party that is looking to the policies of the future and a Coalition Government that can’t even agree with its own policies internally, that’s hamstrung by political and personality divisions and conflict.
That’s why we’re not seeing a functional government and that’s why last night’s change won’t solve the problems that are there for all to see.
REPORTER: Matt, Andrew Hastie’s now $1.18 favourite according to Centrebet, do you think you can still win this?
KEOGH: I think I can win this election. I think it’s important for the people of Canning that I win this election. People have been coming to me all through this campaign saying that they don’t like the broken promises of this Government.
They don’t like the priorities, they don’t like the cuts to their schools and their hospitals and they don’t like $100,00 university degrees. We can win this election. It has always been a tough fight to win this election but we can win it.
KEOGH: The key concern here is the people of Canning. There’s been the cuts to their schools and hospitals. There’s been the introduction of the GP tax and $100,000 university degrees.
They’re the things people want to see fixed. They want to see unemployment fixed in this area. Those things are still issues.
REPORTER: But they blamed Tony Abbott for it.
KEOGH: They blamed the Liberal Government. Mr Abbott was the head of that Government. The disunity and dysfunction of that Government now sees Malcolm Turnbull at its head. But he was a member of that Cabinet and he unequivocally signed up in support of all those things.
REPORTER: You maintain that last night’s events won’t neither help nor hinder your campaign?
KEOGH: The key issues in the campaign remain the same and that’s what people I’ve been speaking to while this leadership instability was going on said yesterday and this morning.
Those key issues remain the same and that’s what people are focused on. That’s what I was talking to people at the Armadale Station about this morning. People weren’t coming up to me and saying, “Oh it’s great that Malcolm Turnbull is now the Prime Minister.”
People are saying we’ve just got to get rid of this government.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.