May 11, 2016

Transcript of press conference – Sydney

SUBJECTS: Election 2016; $5 million for extra commuter parking at Schofields train station

MICHELLE ROWLAND, MEMBER FOR GREENWAY: Welcome to Schofields and a special welcome to Anthony Albanese, our Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Cities. We’re in one of the fastest growing areas of Sydney, new suburbs around Schofields such as The Ponds are coming up every day.

We have a situation where we have so many new residents moving in and one of the biggest issues impacting on their quality of life is their ability to use public transport, in this case to access Schofields train station. There are around 200 car parks here at Schofields station and every time I come here the single biggest issue that commuters raise with me is the lack of parking. You can see down this road, and even down this road here on Railway Terrace, there are scores of cars parked on the roads because that’s the only place you’re able to find a park at any time after around 6.30 in the morning. This makes it very difficult for commuters to access this public transport. It means that if they are parking 10 or 15 minutes away, that’s half an hour that they’re walking just to and from the station each day, let alone catching the train to where they need to go.

So considering this is such an important issue, this is such a big growth area, so many residents have raised this with me. I approached Anthony Albanese to see what a Shorten Labor Government could do to help alleviate this burden on local residents’ quality of life. As this area grows even more it’s going to be an even bigger issue if we don’t address it. So I’m very pleased that Anthony has listened to these concerns of local residents and I’m very pleased to have him here to make an announcement.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND CITIES: Thanks very much, Michelle. It’s fantastic to be back in your electorate of Greenway once again. Public transport is the key to dealing with urban congestion and under the last Labor Government we funded roads, but we also funded public transport.

We looked at the issue of urban congestion which if not tackled will result in a $50 billion cost to the economy by 2031. This rail station here provides an opportunity for locals to travel to work, to travel to recreational activities, but if it’s not accessible public transport, it won’t be used. Michelle told me that this is the most successful petition that she’s ever raised. And I’m not surprised seeing first hand here today the queues down Railway Terrace and the queues behind us. Queues that mean a very long walk to the train station.

Public transport must be accessible. That’s why a future Shorten Labor Government will contribute $5 million for commuter car parking here at Schofields station. In the interests of the residents of Schofields and new areas such as The Ponds, we need to make sure that people’s commute, to and from work, is as short as possible. It is a tragedy that many working parents spend more time travelling to and from work than they do at home with their kids. That’s why issues of accessibility to public transport are so important. This comes on the back of Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply, where he committed to public transport being funded by a future Labor Government, just as we have in the past and have committed to Western Sydney rail.

This announcement today is an important local announcement and it’s a tribute to the tenacity of Michelle Rowland. Michelle Rowland is as strong as any local member right across the Parliament. She stands up each and every day on behalf of her local community. She badgers Shadow Ministers, she badgers Ministers to make sure that her local community, which is such a growth sector, gets the infrastructure and support that it needs and I thank Michelle very much for the invitation to come along today. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: How many spaces will the new car park have?

ALBANESE: What we’ll do is make this available to the State Government. Indeed the State Government, it’s a tragedy, they’ve been there now for almost… they’re into their sixth year, and nothing to solve this problem. Nothing in terms of the three years from the Federal Coalition Government. So what we will do is say ‘here you go, here’s a start. We expect you to make a contribution as well.’ There are a range of designs of course that would have to happen, but you can see the area behind us where a multi-storey car park would provide access to an increased substantial number of cars and it needs to be done. The planning, we’re not in a position as a Federal Opposition to do that. What we are in a position to do, is not just talk but actually do the walk. And we’re doing the walk by putting that $5 million on the table today.

JOURNALIST: Would that have to be matched dollar for dollar by the State Government?

ALBANESE: We would expect that the estimate that we had is the entire project for a substantial commuter car park here would be in the order of $7.5 million. So we’re not even saying that we demand dollar for dollar funding. What we do expect is a contribution, what we do expect is a State Government to actually do something more than just dismiss this concern.

The people of Western Sydney deserve first class infrastructure. They deserve the same infrastructure that occurs in other parts of the community. Indeed, when I was last the Infrastructure Minister, we funded commuter car parks in Penrith, in Cabramatta, in Bankstown, and other places in Western Sydney. This is an area that in recent years is growing. It will continue to grow into the future which is why it’s worthy of this support and the State Government we will write to, we will sit down with after the election if we are successful. We’d also call upon all levels of government to support this project. Obviously the more funds that are there, the more that can be done in terms of the size of the project. But quite clearly you can see today, all around us, what the need is.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Western Sydney will be where this election will be won or lost?

ALBANESE: Western Sydney is always important. Western Sydney is the engine room of Sydney. It has more than 2 million people right now. What we need to make sure is that we have a plan for jobs in Western Sydney, that we have a plan for public transport, that we have a plan for roads, that we have a plan for education facilities, the second Sydney airport, Badgerys Creek is Western Sydney’s first airport, it will be a driver of jobs just like Westmead Hospital was, just like the Western Sydney university is. We need to make sure that as much job creation occurs as is possible and I think people in Western Sydney will be very disappointed by Malcolm Turnbull. He came to office and said he understood cities and urban policy and we’ve seen frankly nothing. What we’ve seen is him downgrade the position from having a Minister for Cities, to having a Parliamentary Secretary who doesn’t actually live in a city, and have an announcement with a t otal funding envelope of $50 million to do with our cities around our nation.

We’ve seen nothing except for platitudes when it comes to Western Sydney rail through to the Badgerys Creek airport, but importantly through to those Western Sydney employment lands and the exciting proposals frankly that are there for a science park and other facilities that will create jobs closer to where people live. We need to do better than just have drive-in, drive-out suburbs. We need to make sure that Western Sydney has jobs created right here, that we have cities policy that doesn’t just speak about where houses will be but speaks about where the education facilities will be, where the health facilities will be, where the transport infrastructure will be. We need to look at the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities. And Western Sydney as a growth region is a key. Bill Shorten will be in Western Sydney just to the west of here, in the Blue Mountains, on Friday night. He is a regular visitor to Western Sydney as I am. We have stro ng advocates, people like Michelle Rowland, Chris Bowen who will be the Treasurer in a Labor Government, Ed Husic will be a Minister in a Labor Government. We will have people sitting around the Cabinet table like Michelle being strong advocates. Not just for this rail station but for the whole gamut of issues of concern to the heartland of Sydney which is right here in Sydney’s west.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned that the people of Western Sydney would be disappointed by The Greens as well?

ALBANESE: Well the Greens don’t seem to be interested in moving any further west than my electorate, frankly. And when you talk about the need to have an economy and the need to have jobs, the people of the Greens, for example, oppose Kingsford Smith Airport, which is right on the border of my electorate. They want to shut it. That’s saying no to jobs. But they also don’t want an airport at Badgery’s Creek, they don’t want an airport anywhere. Now in a modern city there are issues and we announced a plan for mitigating aircraft noise with Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen and Susan Templeman, our candidate for Macquarie, just a few weeks ago. With no fly zones. And that was dismissed by the Government, and then a couple of weeks later they came out and said “Guess what? We need a plan to mitigate noise around Western Sydney.”

And that’s the approach that we would take. The people of Western Sydney deserve nothing less than the people of the Eastern Suburbs or the North Shore of Sydney. We’d be a government that would be concerned with that. I am a very proud Sydneysider. I believe that this city is critical. It’s Australia’s global city. We need to make sure that it functions effectively.

JOURNALIST: Have they thrown a spanner into the works of your campaign in Grayndler then?

ALBANESE: Well I expect competition. But when people actually look at the policies, they look at who is interested in actually delivering something other than just slogans, then I’m very confident that we will have a good result in Grayndler. I’ll put myself forward on the basis of my record. The fact that my values putting forward practical solutions, trying to deliver actual outcomes. The Greens want to protest after outcomes are made. I’m interested in making decisions and changing outcomes.

That’s the difference between us, and the people of my electorate, between someone who potentially is sitting around the cabinet table as a senior minister, making decisions, or at the least as a senior member of the opposition if we’re not successful. But someone who has been, I think, able to achieve outcomes, whether in government or in opposition. Because I understand the political process. I understand the cares and needs of my electorate. And I’m prepared to stand up for my values in a consistent way.

JOURNALIST: You’ve said you’re unhappy that the Greens are targeting Labor seats instead of Liberal seats. What’s your message to the Greens?

ALBANESE: Well I think it says a lot about Richard Di Natale that he is out there spending, not just Sunday, talking about Grayndler being the number one target, but spent the first day of the campaign in Grayndler. That says a lot about his priorities. I’m in Western Sydney today, at a seat very capably held by Michelle Rowland. I’ll be in Western Sydney tomorrow at a seat held by the Coalition. One that we’re hopeful of being successful in, making a very significant announcement yet again.

During this campaign, I’ll be out trying to defeat the Coalition, while the Greens are trying to defeat me. I’ll leave it to the voters of Grayndler to decide who is trying to do their best to ensure there’s a progressive government for Australia. And that’s the difference. And it is disappointing that the Greens who say they want a progressive Australia are targeting progressives rather than conservatives in this election.

JOURNALIST: And speaking of, how did you make of the endorsement in the Telegraph this morning, seeing as it is a traditionally conservative paper and they’re endorsing a Labor candidate?

ALBANESE: Well I think the Telegraph in their editorial said that I was, whatever other views people might have, I stand up for Sydney and I stand up for New South Wales. And I indeed do, and that’s what I’m doing here now. Standing up for Sydney, standing up for New South Wales, and in particular standing up here with my friend Michelle Rowland, for the people of Schofields and the people of The Ponds.

That’s what I do, each and every day. I stand up as a Sydneysider, as a senior member of the Labor Party from Sydney. I’m very proud of that. They pointed out that I’d done that consistently, particularly, I stood up for jobs. And my support for the airport is an issue that’s a difficult one. But politics is about difficult issues. It’s not about just pretending that things can be solved with three word slogans. And I’ll continue to stand up for the interests of Sydney, New South Wales, and Australia. And I believe that the national interest will be served if Bill Shorten is elected Prime Minister on July 2.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the Greens are confusing voters by suggesting that in the case of a hung parliament there could be an alliance with Labor?

ALBANESE: Well I think that’s deliberately a strategy from them, obviously, to try to get some relevance. But we’ve made our position very clear. We’ll stand on our own. After there was a change of Prime Minister and I became the Deputy Prime Minister, we went on the floor of the Parliament. There were no arrangements, nor anything else. We went on the floor of the Parliament and I well recall saying “you can vote for Tony Abbott if you like but that’s up to you.” But there were no arrangements entered into.

The Greens, at this election, are seeking to do arrangements to receive preferences from the Liberals in electorates such as mine. And in return, offering to issue open tickets that will increase the chances of the Turnbull government being re-elected, either in held seats or seats that they are targeting like Bruce and Chisholm in Melbourne, where we have retiring sitting members.

Now by doing that, it increases the possibility the return of a Malcolm Turnbull government, but it also increases the possibility of Peter Dutton staying as Immigration Minister, of a hundred thousand dollar degrees, a privatisation of Medicare, of the sort of pathetic climate change policies that we’ve seen from the Coalition. The continued attacks on the renewable energy industry. On marriage equality, instead of getting the Parliament to do its job, spending half a billion dollars on a divisive, non-binding vote.

All of these things are increased by the Greens issuing open tickets. It’s up to them to explain why they’re prepared to increase the chances of the election of a Turnbull government.