Transcript of Radio Interview – 2HD Newcastle, Richard and Kim Program – Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Subjects: Singleton Bypass, High Speed Rail, Rabbitohs.
KIM BAUER: Anthony Albanese joins us now. Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Kim.
KIM: Will you be going to buy your tickets for Hugh Jackman? Are you that sort of guy?
ALBANESE: I have heard that he is absolutely amazing live. He’s got rave reviews overseas and it is good that he is bringing it to Australia.
RICHARD KING: Well your government will be getting, if you are elected in May, getting rave reviews certainly for the announcement you are about to make officially today. Singleton Bypass seems to be the forgotten one. The New South Wales Government has committed funding for the Muswellbrook Bypass, but Singleton – we get calls every morning because of particularly people heading up to the mines to work etc. I think it is 26,000 vehicles, about 4000 trucks every day along George Street. A bypass long overdue Anthony?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Muswellbrook Bypass is very much needed and both Labor and the Coalition – whoever wins the New South Wales election has committed to that. That’s a good thing at the state level. But there is a little something in between which is Singleton. It has been left out and Singleton Bypass is dearly needed. We know it is one of the region’s worst traffic choke points. Every morning and every afternoon it’s a nightmare. And it’s not just the workers travelling to the mines and the through traffic in terms of passenger vehicles of course; there’s also substantial numbers of heavy vehicles that make this even more needed. So I think that following on from the work that we did last time round, with the fantastic Hunter Expressway – we put $1.5 billion into that last time I was Infrastructure Minister – this is something which has been campaigned for with great vigour by Joel Fitzgibbon and it will be a great day today when the announcement is made.
KIM: Construction due to start, should this go ahead, in 2022. Estimated to take three or four years. Is that realistic? Can it be done in that time?
ALBANESE: Yes it can be. The key is to get all the planning work done properly. If you get that done properly then you can minimise the construction time. There has been a lot more advanced work done on planning for Muswellbrook but for Singleton the planning work hasn’t really been done. Michael Daley and New South Wales Labor have committed to getting on with that if they are elected. I would like to see the construction period brought forward quite frankly but we are being very realistic and modest in what we are promoting and saying can be done because it is always better I think to under-promise and over-deliver.
RICHARD: Hear! Hear!
ALBANESE: But we want this to happen and I know that the people not just of Singleton of course, but of the entire region, want it to happen.
RICHARD: Definitely. We’ve had an email from one of our listeners. “Ask Albo if he is still on about very fast trains and if there is anything he can do to get a non-slow one between Sydney and Newcastle?’’
ALBANESE: I certainly am. It is appalling that it takes longer today to travel by rail to Newcastle from Sydney and the other way around than it did 50 years ago unfortunately. But the truth is the terrain is difficult which is why, in my view, we should bite the bullet and go for a High Speed Rail connection not just through to Sydney but right through to Melbourne and then north to Brisbane. The route that would make the most sense is that corridor between Melbourne and Newcastle. It would be a real game changer. It is expensive, but nation-building requires vision. We have done the study. We did that last time we were in Government. We were ready to create a High Speed Rail Authority. I’ve still got legislation before the Parliament and I know that certainly Sharon Claydon and Pat Conroy and all of the MPs in the Hunter are very, very keen on it, as they are indeed on the Central Coast. There’d be a stop on the Coast and then straight through to Sydney.
KIM: Well it’s a dream. Hopefully it happens and hopefully they are built in Australia. But before you go Anthony, I know you are a big Rabbitohs fan, a life member. How will they go under Bennett this year?
ALBANESE: They are very confident. But I always think we are going to win the comp every February.
RICHARD: (Laughs) Yes.
ALBANESE: I thought that during the 43-year drought between drinks from 1971 to 2014. So I am very confident at this stage. But I do note that we signed Ethan Lowe yesterday which gives us I think a really powerful back row. Ethan is going to be playing at second row this year, and we’ve got Johnny Sutton of course and I think it is a very, very good team. Wayne Bennett is a very experienced coach of course – a seven-times premiership winner. So hopefully he can bag us an eighth.
RICHARD: Good luck. But not when you play the Knights.
ALBANESE: Indeed. It’s always a really good game though. I was at the stadium there to watch a Knights-Souths game with Joel Fitzgibbon a couple of years ago and I love the way that the people of Newcastle embrace rugby league. It’s fantastic, your loyalty. I cheer for the Knights except when they are playing the Cardinal and Myrtle.
RICHARD: Good on you. Thanks you very much for your time. Have a good day.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.