Jan 23, 2015

Transcript of press conference – Cairns

Subjects: Far North Queensland, infrastructure; Bruce Highway; Cape York Infrastructure; tourism; Campbell Newman; Tony Abbott; Queensland Labor, Rob Pyne, Craig Crawford.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE, CITIES AND TOURISM: I’m here today with Rob Pyne and Craig Crawford, our candidates for Cairns and Barron River, and I’m here to ask for a vote for Labor in next Saturday’s state election on January 31st.

Labor is deserving of support from Queenslanders because of what we have done in the past and our record, but more importantly because of what we will do in the future.

Tourism employs 1 in 10 Queenslanders and yet what we’re seen from the federal government is no Tourism Minister appointed and a complete withdrawal of federal funding to promote domestic tourism of Far North Queensland to the rest of Australia is now vastly reduced, with no support from the federal government.

Given that Far North Queensland has to compete with other destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, that’s a very short-sighted approach. But it’s not surprising from a government that doesn’t even have a Tourism Minister. And of course in Queensland we saw a $20 million cut to events and tourism just in last year’s state Budget.

On infrastructure it was Federal Labor partnering with the former state Labor Government that committed the $150 million for the southern approaches to Cairns, that committed the $210 million that’s in the Cape York Roads Package that has been subsequently reannounced by the incoming federal Government.

When it comes to action on jobs and support for this region, what I know is that Annastacia Palaszczuk and the State Labor Party backed by strong local candidates such as Rob and Craig and others in the region who will stand up for Far North Queensland. They will make sure there’s a strong voice for Cairns in Queensland’s Parliament House as well as a voice all the way down in Canberra.

That voice is absolutely critical, given the fact that Campbell Newman has refused to stand up to Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott is missing from this campaign but he’s not missing in terms of his impact on this region.

The $80 billion of cuts to education and health. The cuts to infrastructure. The cuts to tourism – they’re all having an impact here. Queensland needs a Premier who will stand up to Tony Abbott in Canberra.

Annastacia Palaszczuk is just such a person. Campbell Newman is not because he’s put the interests of the LNP before the interests of Queenslanders.

I was the Infrastructure Minister for six years and during those years we saw record investment in Queensland. Record investment in the Bruce Highway, but also the Cape York Infrastructure Package, worked out by the Federal Government and put in the 2013 Budget.

As well, we saw community infrastructure, whether it be the sporting ovals such as at Cazalys here in Cairns, whether it be the money that we put aside for the entertainment precinct that Campbell Newman withdrew upon his coming to office.

What we saw is that it’s Labor that is prepared to invest in infrastructure, whether it be major roads, whether it be community infrastructure, whether it be the CBD revitalization of Cairns that we also funded.

REPORTER: What qualities do you see in Rob and Craig as local candidates?

ALBANESE: What I see is experience in Craig as someone who works in the emergency services sector. I see someone who’s prepared to take that passion and commitment for his local community from his current workplace into being an advocate in the Parliament.

In Rob I see someone who is in his second term on the Council, who has already shown himself to be a strong advocate at the local government level and he can take that passion and commitment into the state government arena. I think we have extraordinary candidates here in Far North Queensland and they’re worthy of support.

It’s no wonder that Campbell Newman is trying to hide from the electorate. He’s having an election for the first time since Federation, that is being conducted in January. You only do that if you’re trying to hide from accountability and you don’t want to argue your case before the electorate.

And of course he’s been passive when it comes to standing up to Tony Abbott. He thinks if Tony Abbott just disappears and is stopped at the border, stopped from crossing the Tweed River into Queensland, then Queenslanders will forget the impact that Tony Abbott’s is having on their standard of living.

REPORTER: What funding would you like to see if the Labor Party did take office in Queensland, like the Bruce Highway, and on a local level, to boost tourism which is a huge issue in Cairns, on a local level, what could we expect from the Labor Party on things like road infrastructure and tourism?

ALBANESE: I’d like to see the Bruce Highway upgrades that we committed money for. Real money, real investment from the Federal Government in partnership with the State Government.

What we’ve seen from the incoming Government is just reannouncements of funding that was already in budgets at the federal and state level. I want to see a real commitment with real difference not just reannouncements.

Already, the $100 million package for the reef that’s been announced by Queensland Labor and $40 million tourism package is a significant step forward for valuing this region and the Great Barrier Reef.

When the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama, came and gave a speech lauding the beauty of the reef for his family and future generations, that should have been welcomed by the Liberal and National Parties.

Instead, they saw it as an attack on our national sovereignty. That says a lot about the way that Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman view this region.

ROB PYNE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAIRNS: One of the reasons that we invited Anthony here today is because during the 6 years he was the Infrastructure Minister we received twice the amount of roads funding in the Far North than we did in over a decade with John Howard.

So Anthony’s got a record of delivering up here. Labor has a record of delivering in the Far North and we want to build on that and deliver for the people who have been neglected under Campbell Newman. Thank you.