SUBJECTS: Sharon Claydon campaign launch; Glendale Transport Interchange; High Speed Rail; South Sydney Rabbitohs.
HOST: Well if you didn’t know, there’s a Federal Election coming up in a few weeks’ time, and a big announcement yesterday. A Shorten Labor Government, obviously if elected, will invest $1.6 billion to extend the M1 from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace, which is similar to a commitment made prior to the state election by the Coalition. So that’s an interesting one, and I think that was confirmed some time ago. The man responsible for that announcement in our neck of the woods yesterday is with us now, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Tourism. He’s a mad keen Rabbitohs tragic, is a bit of a DJ and loves his music, and that’s Anthony Albanese and he’s on the line. Good morning, Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Richard. It’s great to be here in beautiful Newcastle.
HOST: You launched Sharon Claydon’s Election campaign last night I believe Anthony?
ALBANESE: I did. It was a terrific night. They’re always very welcoming here in the Hunter I find, with people who are active in political parties, in general, I think is a good thing. I’ve got to say I obviously would prefer Labor, but it’s a great thing that we are able to determine who’s in government in a peaceful way by putting forward our cases to the people and that’s what’s going on over the next four weeks. Labor Party members – we’re very active. But Sharon Claydon is a fantastic local member, and I was very proud to launch her campaign. She’s making an enormous difference, not just on local issues, but is a very strong advocate across a range of policy issues: education, health, infrastructure, in the Caucus in Canberra, and of course, she’s our Caucus Chairperson.
HOST: Now one of the hot infrastructure projects that seems to be having a great deal of difficulty to get anywhere near completion is the Glendale Transport Interchange. I think local councils, a number of years ago, put it as the number one project that they all wanted to get behind. But it seems to have been difficult to get governments to support it in the same way. But I’m hopeful, fingers crossed, that you’ve got a bit of good news for us there?
ALBANESE: That’s right. Glendale Interchange is an absolute no brainer, because of what a small, relatively, investment would bring to the economy of the Hunter. That’s what all of the councils identified as their number one priority. The next stage of the project – the Pennant Street Bridge over the rail line in Cardiff to connect up Cardiff across with Glendale would make such an enormous difference. Today we’re committing – I’ll be with Sharon again, and Pat Conroy and Joel Fitzgibbon, and the Mayor Kay Fraser to commit $13 million to the project. It’s a $32 million project. If you had $13 million from the Commonwealth, $13 million from the State – Lake Macquarie Council itself is kicking in $6 million. So you can get this project done. And the incredible thing about this project – I’ve never seen a cost benefit analysis like it – is that for every dollar of investment, there’ll be $94 of private investment that will be unlocked through the contribution of government. Now governments need to listen to economic analysis and respond to it. But this shows it’s an absolute lay down misere that this should happen.
HOST: Well given that’s the case, how quickly can you make it happen?
ALBANESE: Well it can happen straight away. All of the planning is done for this. The analysis is done. Businesses want the connection to the ports that the bridge would provide. There’s enormous potential for growth in both retail and commercial businesses, and it would just make an incredible difference. We’re talking about potentially in the order of 10,000 jobs here. Jobs in construction obviously would happen also in the short term through support of this project, but that long term job creation is precisely the sort of project that government should be backing. And we certainly will be backing it. We had money in the budget in 2013. When Tony Abbott came in, he didn’t just rip money out of health and education and the ABC, he ripped money out of projects like this as well.
HOST: Now Mr. Albanese – we’ve spoken to you before about your fast train passion. Can I ask, how well do you know Richard Branson?
ALBANESE: I actually do know Richard in my time as Aviation Minister.
HOST: Well he’s just built over in Las Vegas or in the desert there a hyperloop. And we read that we can get from Sydney to Newcastle in 13 minutes, so you can just bypass the fast train and get a hyperloop done for us. Okay?
ALBANESE: I’ve been over to the States in January. A hyperloop, let me say, is interesting technology. It’s not quite, I don’t think, proven completely. I do get correspondence saying “why don’t you just do this”, which is almost using a vacuum-type system really, by removing all friction, and it’s an incredible concept. But call me old fashioned. That’s one other thing – that of course is part of all the money that was there for the High Speed Rail Authority, and to begin corridor acquisition. I’ve still got my High Speed Rail Authority bill before the Parliament, when it was prorogued. And the good news about doing the studies that we did last time we were in Government, is that we could really get moving on that quite quickly I would hope.
HOST: Yeah well let’s hope so. I’d love to be able to catch the train to Sydney in less than three hours. All right. Good to talk to you.
ALBANESE: That’s right – less than an hour sounds a lot better doesn’t it?
HOST: Oh yes it certainly does. And you’re happy with Wayne Bennett as the new coach of the Bunnies?
ALBANESE: I am very happy with Wayne Bennett. He’s going extremely well. I had a chat with him at the season launch, and he was very confident. He’s a good manager of people. I had a chat with Sam Burgess and some of the boys, and they are very comfortable with him. I think he’s bringing out the best in the team, and they’re going very well. I certainly hope things pick up for the Knights.
HOST: So do we.
ALBANESE: This is a very important rugby league town, and they’re quite rightly very proud of the Newcastle Knights. I wish them all the best – every single game they play-
HOST: –Except when we play you.
ALBANESE: Except when they play the red and green.
HOST: All right. Thank you very much for your time this morning, and good luck in the Election Anthony.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much. Always great to talk to you.
HOST: Likewise. It’s 16 to 7 – Anthony Albanese on 2HD. The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, Regional Development and Tourism. There is a few hats that he wears at various times, and in our neck of the woods at the moment.
HOST: Yes, it’s very good news though – we’re getting $13 million to go towards the Glendale Interchange.
HOST: It’s a commitment, and it’s one that been sitting there, and for the life of me, and I think you know, people are gobsmacked that it hasn’t been finished a long time ago.
HOST: But it’s good – $13 million from them, $13 million from the State, $6 million from Council, and it’s done!
HOST: Bob’s your uncle. It’s all over red rover.
HOST: It sounds so easy.
HOST: Let’s hope it happens.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.