May 16, 2012

Transcript of doorstop with Victorian Public Transport & Roads Minister Terry Mulder – Yarraville, Melbourne

ISSUES:  Smart Managed Motorways Program; Federal Labor’s record infrastructure spending in Victoria; 2012-13 Federal Budget; Craig Thomson & Federal Coalition’s hypocrisy

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be here this afternoon with Terry Mulder, my Victorian Transport Ministerial colleague, and we’re here today to announce a joint project that’s an exciting project because it’ll make a big difference to Melbourne traffic.

We’re here today to announce $25 million on a 50/50 basis for the Westgate Freeway from the Smart Managed Motorway Program.

What this is is installing new technology to make sure we get better outcomes from our existing infrastructure.  This has been through analysis by Infrastructure Australia, and I want to say this on the record not just because I’m in Victoria.  Victoria is ahead of the game.  Victoria has done better than any other state when it comes to the use of smart infrastructure, and that has resulted in much better outcomes.  Infrastructure Australia has found this project has a 14:1 benefit cost ratio outcome.  That is extraordinary.

It’s a great project if you can get to four or five to one.  To get 14 times the benefit for every dollar that you put in shows how sensible this will be.

We know that traffic congestion is a real issue here in Melbourne, as it is in other capital cities.  What this project will do, is ease traffic congestion and make the Freeway safer.

It also compliments the $900 million that we’re contributing to the M80 Ring Road.

So here in Victoria we’re contributing $6.8 billion in total through the Nation Building Program.  We’ve more than doubled infrastructure spending compared with our predecessors.  We know there’s more to be done and that’s why it’s so good that we’re working together – the Federal Government with the State Government to deliver good outcomes for Victorians.

TERRY MULDER:  Thank you Minister Albanese.  It certainly is a great project, twelve and a half million dollars, Federal Government funding, twelve and a half million dollars State Government funding for this project.

When you look at it from the M1, the Westgate, out to the M80, it’s 113 kilometres.  And right in the midst of that we’ve got this choke point of five kilometres between Williamstown Road out to the M80.  And this funding will make sure that we can deliver the same sort of technology that the rest of the road network has.

There’s somewhere in the order of 160,000 vehicles go along this piece of road infrastructure on a daily basis, and they don’t have the advantage that the M1 has or the Westgate has at this particular point in time, so this project will start 2013, it will be completed in 2014, and we would hope to see that we get the same sort of outcomes we’ve had on the M1.

When we switched on this technology on the M1, we had a reduction in travel times of around 30 per cent in the peak, and a reduction in serious accidents of around 40 per cent.  And that’s a fantastic outcome for this sort of investment.  Quite clearly motorists in terms of safety, reliability, are going to love the technology when it’s finally switched on.

You’ve got the overhead gantries, you’ve got lane monitoring, but also the CCTV cameras, right along the road network, that go back to VicRoads central control.  If there is an incident on the network they can give motorists plenty of advice, plenty of information in terms of switching lanes, slowing down, whatever they need to do.

So it’s a matter of getting as much as we possibly can out of the existing network by being smart.  And as the Minister has pointed out, we’re ahead of the game.  We’ve been doing this in Victoria for some time.  And we want to continue with our road network.

More to be done, as has indicated we look forward to further partnership arrangements particularly when we get these sort of outcomes with safety and productivity.

QUESTION: This is a partnership obviously that comes off the back of you know, Victoria, Victorian Government was quite candid about their disappointment with the outcomes from the Federal Budget, but obviously today on the [indistinct], how does this project fit into the greater scheme of things when the funding that was required for, like, the east-west link and things like that didn’t come through?

TERRY MULDER: Well we’re, naturally we’re disappointed.  I think I wouldn’t be the only one to say that.  State ministers across the board would always like more.  Today’s announcement of course as I say plays a key role in making sure you get more out of the existing infrastructure, certainly projects like the east-west link and the Metro tunnel and some other projects we would have liked to have seen some funding come forward in the Federal Budget but we’ll continue to lobby, we’ll continue to push forward particularly with the east-west link.

We’ve got funding to at least work through a business case – and start some of the preliminary work.  But we’ll continue to as I say lobby the Federal Government going forward because we’d like to see some support, some of these very important projects.

I think the Premier has made it quite clear we’d struggle, as would many states, to fund a lot of major road infrastructure and major rail infrastructure projects by ourselves.  The Federal Government in the past have funded a Regional Rail Link, they have put money into the Metro Tunnel project and we’ll continue to try and get that sort of support, going forward.

QUESTION: So there was no thought that this 25 million for this project might have been better funnelled off into one of the other projects?

TERRY MULDER:  No, look, when you look at this project, you look at productivity in Melbourne, traffic congestion in Melbourne, and particularly when I point out those safety outcomes – a 40 per cent reduction in serious accidents.  And I think that, in its own right, would suggest that $25 million is a sound investment on behalf of state and Federal.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This project delivers extraordinary value for money.

We have coming up Nation Building Program II which will commence in 2014/15.  So we have commenced discussions about what the priorities would be with each of the state and territory governments.  But we do have the largest ever infrastructure investment by any Australian government, an investment that has seen a doubling of the roads budget and an increasing in the rail budget by more than ten times, investment in the Regional Rail Link – the single biggest investment by any Federal government in any urban rail project in our history, by a long way.

And one of the reasons why that happened was because the Victorian Government had done its homework.  They had got it right, in terms of making sure that you have an uplift factor because of what will happen with urban development along that rail corridor.  So Victoria has been particularly successful in terms of its presentations to Infrastructure Australia in the past.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Victorian Government.

In the Budget we did have some major new announcements including extending the Roads to Recovery Program that funds every local government in Victoria for local roads.  We extended that by five years, and we extended for five years with additional funding the Black Spot Program that identifies and fixes the worst intersections.  Those projects might not cost hundreds of millions of dollars – it might be $1 million here, $500,000 here – but they make a huge difference to road safety.  And the way that the Black Spot Program works is it identifies on the basis of where most accidents occur.  So that will make a big difference as well.

And just this morning, I was with the Australian Trucking Association.  They have certainly welcomed the fact that we have announced in the budget $140 million of new spending for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.  That resulted in a very much whizzbang heavy vehicle rest stop in western Victoria, I think it’s the most expensive rest stop in Australia, but it’s making a big difference for those heavy vehicle drivers who are going from Victoria to South Australia.

So there’s new spending there.  We acknowledge that you can’t get back to surplus and commit to everything that people would like.  But we have delivered a surplus budget.  At the same time, I think what is remarkable is that we found more than $35 billion of savings and we still increased infrastructure spending in the Budget.

QUESTION: Just on a separate issue, Minister Albanese.  Today, Joe Hockey’s comments at the Press Club, anything you’d like to mention about those?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I do find it pretty remarkable that Joe Hockey today at the Press Club said that he would accept Craig Thomson’s vote on the floor of the Parliament.

 Of course this is a bit of a nonsense argument because we know that someone doesn’t accept a vote.  People who are elected to Parliament are entitled to represent their electorates and to vote in divisions on the floor of the Parliament.

What it does do though is expose the hypocrisy.  Joe Hockey and the Coalition aren’t really fair dinkum.  They are just playing politics.