Jul 16, 2007

Transcript of joint media conference, Tuggerah Lakes, Central Coast NSW

Transcript of joint media conference – Picnic Point, The Entrance, Central Coast NSW




16 July 2007

Subject: Labor’s $20 million investment in Tuggerah Lakes, Climate Change; Cook preselection and control of the NSW Liberal Party by the extreme right wing

CRAIG THOMSON: We are here today to make some announcements in relation to Tuggerah Lakes. We have been working very hard to try and get commitments in relation to fixing up the lakes. The lakes are the jewel in the Central Coast crown and are very important to everyone. The whole electorate surrounds these lakes and people have been sick and tired for years of different levels of government passing the buck in relation to this issue.

We are here today to announce that over five years we will be putting in $20 million dollars, which is a major investment in relation to making sure that we can once and for all fix up these beautiful lakes and make sure they retain their beauty and bring them back to their natural state that we all want them to be here on the Central Coast.

The plan has taken 9 years to develop by the Council and they have asked us to put this money in and we are putting the entire amount in. They wanted $20 million and we are giving them $20 million to get this thing fixed. It is a very important thing for the Central Coast and one that we think deserves to be done because of the national significance that Tuggerah Lakes have.

PETER GARRETT: I am very pleased to be able to say that a Rudd Labor Government would invest $20 million in the beautiful Tuggerah Lakes estuary region, making sure that it is well looked after and that the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan can be put into effect and start to ensure that this beautiful part of the Central Coast, which is so important, for getting back to nature, for fishing, and for recreation, is looked after for ever.

I welcome very much the contribution that Craig Thomson is making for the people of Dobell as the Labor candidate. He has called out for action on Tuggerah Lakes Estuary and he has got it. That is a sign of a candidate who is working strongly and effectively, not only in the community but also with the Party at the national level.

The Tuggerah Lakes are, as Craig said, environmentally important; and the third largest estuarine area in New South Wales. We have significant degradation of sea grass, we’ve got degradation of the salt marsh bush here, so there is a very urgent need for an area which is so important in terms of fisher birds, in terms of the prawns – there is a very important prawn industry here, and in terms of the breeding of fish. It is very important that we get a plan in place which will look after this important area.

It is a great day for the Central Coast. It is a great day for the Tuggerah Lakes when Federal Labor commits this amount of money to make sure there is a plan in place that looks after this beautiful part of the Central Coast and the Tuggerah Lakes.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am also very pleased to be here with Peter and Craig today for this $20 million announcement to improve water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes. This follows the $80 million commitment from Federal Labor for the missing link pipeline between Mardi Dam and Mangrove Creek Dam.

Water is a critical issue on the Central Coast. The quality of water and access to water and sustainability has been one of the things that has drawn people to come and make the Central Coast their home. This is a pristine natural environment which needs protection, and in the case of Tuggerah Lakes, needs rehabilitation.

We have received representation from Craig as the candidate for Dobell and from Jill Hall as the Member for Shortland to support this nationally significant project. I am very pleased that a Rudd Labor Government will make sure that this is added to the list of commitments that we have made to the Central Coast on water.

JOURNALIST: Peter, when you are spending the $20 million, what tangible results will people see in their lake?

PETER GARRETT: This $20 million will be directed towards ensuring the nutrient runoff issues are addressed. That you make sure the storm water issues into the Lake were addressed. There are some 27 projects in existence at this present point in time that can use this kind of resource commitment that Federal Labor has made in order to improve water quality in the lake.

Let’s not forget that the Central Coast has been an area of high population growth. It has gone throw a period of significant drought so water quality issues on the Central Coast are as important here as they are anywhere in Australia. The Tuggerah Lakes and the estuarine lakes system plays an incredibly important role in the ecology of the region, it is critically important for recreational and commercial fishers, and it is also an important recreational area for the people who live in and around the Central Coast. I think that a commitment of this kind ensures that a precious jewel like the Tuggerah Lakes will get the level of protection and rehabilitation that it needs and it also puts in place a plan that has been some time in the offing. Up to this point in time there hasn’t been the kind of commitment that we have made today. That commitment is going to make a huge difference to the health of the Tuggerah Lakes.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] climate change?

PETER GARRETT: I might just quickly refer to two aspects of the climate change debate that continue to be dominant in national political issues. The first is to note that the Prime Minister is bringing forward his response to a national emission trading scheme. There is an announcement this morning and we’ll expect to see the Prime Ministers response to that scheme in a short period of time. John Howard had 11 years to respond to climate change. Why has it taken him so long?

Cabinet submissions were sought on an emissions trading scheme. The Prime Minister rejected them. All the states got together to work up a national emissions trading scheme. The Prime Minister refused to have anything to do with them. Now with an election three months away, with APEC in the offing, the Prime Minister is playing catch up on climate change. But it won’t fool the Australian people. They know that the Howard government is full of climate change sceptics and our message to the Prime Minister is: what took you so long Prime Minister? You don’t have credibility on this issue.

A Rudd Labor Government will deliver on climate change solutions. Kevin Rudd and the State Premiers have commissioned Professor Garnaut to look in depth at the costs, benefits and risks associated with climate change. We have a series of polices to deal with climate change. Mr Howard comes to this debate very late in the day and his credibility, frankly on climate change, remains at zero.

JOURNALIST: Anthony, just on a slightly different topic. What comments would you make on the Liberal Preselection for seat of Cook on the weekend?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well what we see now is that the Prime Minister has clearly lost control of his own branch of the Liberal Party. The preselection in Cook on Saturday, which saw an extreme right wing branch stacker, Michael Tawke elected above quality candidates, include Scott Morrison who had the endorsement of Nick Minchin, Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull and Arthur Sinodinos, but could only get 8 votes out of 162 votes in the preselection ballot.

This shows that the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party are now completely dominant in New South Wales and are contemptuous of the needs and aspirations of ordinary working Australians, and are indeed contemptuous of their own federal leadership of the Party.

They are positioning themselves for a future leadership ballot in stopping Peter Costello assuming the leadership of the Party at some stage, and the preselection of this extreme right winger follows the preselection of Alex Hawke in the seat of Mitchell. We now have two of the safest Liberal seats in New South Wales being contested by branch stacking right wingers, controlled by David Clark and others with links to the ugly right of the Liberal Party. I think it is a real concern that a mainstream political party such as the Liberal Party, is now completely out of step with the mainstream of Australian working families, their needs and aspirations. The Prime Minister simply is not in control in the New South Wales Liberal Party anymore.

PETER GARRETT: I’ll just add to Anthony’s comments and point out that these calibre of candidates mean that the governments policy credentials on climate change are completely deficient. These are the sorts of candidates who run lines that are hostile both national and international action on climate change. These are the kind of candidates who indulge in extreme, right wing bully-boy politics. They are not the kind of candidates who are likely to serve their communities well, or their Party, and frankly they are not the kind of candidates that understand climate change at all.

JOURNALIST: Anthony, here in Dobell, in your view, what does it take to win the seat back?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think what it takes is a candidate like Craig Thomson. Craig is someone who has shown already that he is a dynamic candidate who can achieve real results for the people of the Central Coast, by his lobbying within the Party, and his advocacy within the community.

Today’s announcement of a $20 million commitment, following on the commitment to the missing link pipeline, shows that Craig is someone who actually understands what the needs and aspirations are of the people of Dobell and I am sure that he’ll do very well in the election. We are not taking anything for granted. We are taking every seat as being critical. We need 16 seats to win government and Dobell has to be one of those. If you compare an active dynamic candidate with frankly, a tired-looking and complacent local member, who contributes nothing the Federal Parliament, and most of his colleagues would struggle to know his name, let alone the broader community, I think the people of this great region need a candidate like Craig to be elected later this year.