Subjects: Hobart roundabout announcement; Tasmanian infrastructure funding; Tasmanian tourism funding; Three Capes Track
SARAH GILLMAN: There will be a major announcement by the Federal Labor team about the Tasman Highway and to talk about it we’re joined in the studio by Anthony Albanese. He’s the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Sarah.
GILLMAN: Thanks for coming in.
ALBANESE: Great to be here.
GILLMAN: You’ve been a regular visitor to Tasmania over many years, particularly in your capacity as Infrastructure Minister in the previous government.
I was thinking then, under that government, it went ahead, the opening of the Kingston Bypass and also the Brighton Bypasses. What are you planning to unveil today?
ALBANESE: Today I’ll be with Brian Mitchell who’s our candidate for Lyons and of course, my colleague, Julie Collins.
We’ll be announcing $32 million as the federal contribution to fix the roundabout when you come out of the airport there. It needs a grade separation, that is a fly-over to seperate the traffic.
We know that each and every morning there are banks up of people coming from Sorrell and other surrounding areas, and it’s a bad look for Tasmania when the first experience that people have are the queues that form at the roundabout there given that travel from the airport is expected to double over coming years.
It’s important that this project get fixed. It’s a $40 million project. We would contribute 80% of the funding under a Labor Government. We’d expect the State Government to contribute $8 million and it’s a great project.
It will create jobs. It’s been a real priority for Brian and Julie, and I’m very pleased to be here today to make the announcement in advance of Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply tonight.
GILLMAN: We’ll come back to that, but have you been in any talks at all with the State Government about whether they would contribute to the project?
ALBANESE: I’m sure that they would stump up. If not I think they’d be accountable for it. They certainly have raised it, and every Tasmanian knows it’s an issue.
Every time I come to Hobart – as you’ve said, I’m a very regular visitor to this part of the world. I love Tasmania.
Every time I’ve been here, this has been an issue that’s been raised, more and more so in the last couple of years as you’ve seen the tourism figures grow and the number of flights in and out of the airport grow.
GILLMAN: Well, work is about to start on an extension to the runway. As you say, tourism numbers will grow.
Is there a risk that what you’ll do is create a flyover over the roundabout but then you end up at the causeway of course, and midway point. I mean, how do you resolve those sort of issues?
ALBANESE: The advice that we have is that the crunch point really is the roundabout there and that you need to fix that. Of course, not all traffic is coming to and from the airport.
Some of it is the through traffic in the morning as well. That’s why this is a priority project.
Every time I’ve come to Tasmania I brought good news as a Minister. It’s a tragedy that there was no good news in the Budget.
A confirmation of $100 million cut to the Midland Highway. $60 million cut to the Rail Revitalisation Program that they’ve cut in half.
There hasn’t been a new major infrastructure project announced by the government in its three years and I find that quite extraordinary.
GILLMAN: We will come to Eric Hutchinson, the Member for Lyons shortly to see whether perhaps the Turnbull Government would match this commitment you’re about to announce.
ALBANESE: Well, they had a chance Tuesday night and they didn’t do it. That’s the truth. They’ve handed down their Budget and there’s nothing in it for Tasmanian infrastructure. Not a single new project. No new tourism funding.
In my portfolio, it didn’t take too long in the Budget lock-up to get through the infrastructure and regional development portfolio papers because there was nothing there for just about anyone but certainly nothing there for Tasmanians.
GILLMAN: As you mentioned, Bill Shorten and the Federal Opposition Leader will give his Budget response tonight. The last day of this sitting Parliament and we’re expecting an election announcement I’ve heard on Sunday, on Mother’s Day. In terms of when you get back to the electorate, are people ready for another election?
Someone said to me the other day that if Bill Shorten was to be elected, it would be the sixth Prime Minister in six years for Australians.
ALBANESE: People, I think, expect governments to serve their full term. This is a government that is racing to an election because they don’t have an agenda.
They’ve run out of ideas, they don’t have a sense of purpose. There’s no narrative to the government. Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott, but no plan to govern.
And I think people responded very positively, they though, oh well, here’s Malcolm, and they’re wondering where Malcolm Turnbull went because there’s been no change in policy and Tuesday night’s Budget just added to the disappointment.
GILLMAN: What about yourself? Can you hold onto your own seat? There’s been a redistribution in NSW.
ALBANESE: It’s a tough seat. That’s the truth. And it will be difficult to hold onto. I’ve lost some of the best booths in my electorate.
I had the option of going to a safer seat, to Barton, where I now live thanks to the AEC redistribution, actually, but I chose to run for Grayndler even though it is very difficult on the state figures we certainly don’t win it.
I want to be part of a Labor Government. It’s important what individual members are elected, but it’s also important to, I think, having had the experience of government, we just can’t afford another three years of drift from the Coalition.
GILLMAN: Just a final point and coming back to the announcement you’re about to make, we caught up with a lot of Tasmanians yesterday as part of our Budget coverage and a lot of them were expressing concern that while it was in some ways, they described it as a disappointing Budget, a safe Budget, what they didn’t want to see was an election campaign where there was a lot of money splashed about and new promises.
Aren’t you falling into that trap with even just this announcement today?
ALBANESE: Not at all. Because this is productivity boosting infrastructure. Productivity boosting infrastructure adds to the economy and future growth. It adds to future revenue. It improves the functioning of the economy.
That’s something that we did regularly in government, whether it be the projects that you mentioned, the works on the Midland Highway, the Kingston and Brighton Bypasses, the work on the Intermodal, the work at Macquarie Point where we contributed $50 million or the work like Three Capes.
Unfinished business there, but we contributed $13 million to Three Capes Track. It is now getting global coverage for Tasmanians, which is bringing people to Tasmania who bring money and create jobs.
So that’s an example, I think. One of the reasons why I love my portfolio and I’ve chosen to keep it now for almost a decade, is that you can really make a difference to jobs and the future of Tasmania’s economy by investing in infrastructure and tourism, something that this Government just has failed to do.
They’ve been quite happy to open projects that were funded by the former Labor Government, but there’s no pipeline of projects and that’s what’s required.
GILLMAN: Well no doubt more details to come after nine. We’ll let you go but thanks so much for coming in this morning.
ALBANESE: Great to be with you, Sarah.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.