Subjects: Tasmanian roads funding; Tarkine World Heritage Site Listing;
Clive Palmer; One Nation preferences.
HOST: As I mentioned to you before, there’s lots of different types of roads that we complain about. There are the roads that are bumpy or slow or annoying, or you’d like to see an overtaking lane. There are roads where if they were bitumenised, you’d get more tourists in your community. But as I mentioned earlier, and as we hear so often particularly in Dover, in Smithton yesterday talking to any number of people about their priorities, and in Scottsdale as we stood there in the lead-up to the election last year, there were roads that when your partner is coming home on them, you actually worry. You feel something in the pit of your stomach about, just hoping that they survive the road and the journey okay. There’s a few significant ones around Tasmania. Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development with the Labor Party. Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Leon. Good to be here.
HOST: Specifically, you’re about to make a promise this morning – an election funding promise on the Sideling – the road across to Scottsdale that has to take heavy transport. What is that promise specifically?
ALBANESE: Well we’ll upgrade that road. This is part of a comprehensive $1.3 billion package we’re announcing today, of upgrades to essentially all of the major highways in the North and the North-West, including the Bass, the West Tamar, the Frankford and the Murchison Highways out in the North here. We have specific commitments across the board to make sure that upgrades occur on all of the major black spots that have been identified. You’re quite right. People are concerned across a range of areas about people being able to come home, and I’ve travelled throughout the north and north west, and I’m very conscious about road safety, and that’s why we’re making this commitment today.
HOST: Okay, let’s deal within the specifics. How much money specifically are you allocating to the Sideling – the road that takes heavy transport and people into Scottsdale?
ALBANESE: That’s a part of the package. Some $25 million will be allocated between the Tasman Highway and the Sideling area, and that has been identified. I went to Scottsdale just last year with Ross Hart and spoke to people there, and that was identified as one of the real black spots if you like. Passenger vehicles of course share that road with heavy vehicles, and often quite large ones. And it’s always a bit scary, if you’re in a small car and you’ve got a large heavy vehicle behind you. And this upgrade will be a part of the package that we have here for the North.
HOST: OK. Specifically when will that money be available?
ALBANESE: Of course, the State Government build the roads. What we will do, if we’re elected, is sit down with them and work through a timeframe. But I want …
HOST: Many many people would say $25 million is actually not, roads are expensive to make, that $25 million is not going to get the whole cost of those improvements done. Have you negotiated the other part of these costs with the State Government for them to pay?
ALBANESE: No, but we would expect the State Government to be making a contribution as well.
HOST: What if they don’t?
ALBANESE: Well we’d expect that they will.
HOST: But what if they don’t?
ALBANESE: The way that road funding happens Leon, for roads which are state roads, which is this one in particular, is that states have responsibility. This is an addition. This is the Federal Government coming in, if I’m the Minister, and saying: “We want to help you out because of road safety issues.”
HOST: So $25 million, and we’ll need to talk to the State Government to make sure that they will provide whatever other…
ALBANESE: That’s right. Look, the Federal Government doesn’t have road crews. That’s the truth. So what the Federal Government can do though is provide proper funding. Last time we were in Government, we doubled infrastructure funding here in Tasmania. What this is – it’s the largest ever roads package ever announced for Tasmania. I’m very proud of it. It’s comprehensive. We’ve worked it through with all of our local MPs.
HOST: Have you worked it through with the State Government to make sure that they’re on board and this will actually happen?
ALBANESE: Well the Liberal Government don’t, from time to time, sit down and negotiate with the Labor Party when we’re in Opposition. That’s the truth. But I would have a good relationship with Premier Hodgman. I know him. I acknowledge the fact that last week, when we announced our tourism package, he came out and welcomed it. That’s a good thing. I think people want work to just take place. People want governments to get on with the business of governing.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, I’m mindful of the fact you’ve got to go in a couple of moments…
ALBANESE: I do.
HOST: And we’ve got some more questions to get through. Specifically, is there money in this package, for what we were hearing so much of yesterday, in Smithton? The road west from Smithton to Marrawah?
ALBANESE: There is indeed. This is of course a major issue as well. I’ve travelled to Smithton. I’ve travelled on that road, and there will be money in this package – some $60 million to upgrade the Bass Highway in the north west. And once again, when you travel along that road, there are areas of course as you go along where it’s at two lanes each way, and then it narrows down to one, and there aren’t enough spots where people can safely take over cars or heavy vehicles, and it is a dangerous section of road. This was identified of course during the Braddon by-election as well and Justin Keay has fought very hard to get this funding, to make sure that it’s made available, and we’ll do just that.
HOST: You’re also the Shadow Minister for Tourism. It’s a pledge we extracted from both Labor and Liberal – will you guarantee, if elected on the 18th of May, that the Tarkine area will not be turned into a World Heritage Area or a national park?
ALBANESE: Well it’s not my portfolio. Our environment spokespeople will make those statements. But as far as I’m aware, there are no plans to do anything in that area.
HOST: And finally this morning. You’ve previously called Clive Palmer a tosser, and a conman. Julie Collins – your candidate, rather the incumbent in Franklin, is preferencing him second on her ticket. So what is it? Is he a tosser, or is he the person you preference number two?
ALBANESE: Julie Collins’ preferences won’t be counted – I’ll give you the big tip Leon. And I assume that’s in order to maximise the formal vote. And what happens quite often when you’re in a major party, is you put your number one next to yourself, and then you go down the ticket, or you go up the ticket to maximise formality.
HOST: But you’ve got to walk the talk don’t you? I mean is he a tosser or is he the person you preference number two?
ALBANESE: Our preferences will never be counted. You know full well Leon that that’s the case, and I see you nodding there in agreement. And the fact is you have to look at…
HOST: So will you challenge Steve Martin about preferencing One Nation number three on his ticket…
ALBANESE: His preferences will be counted. That’s the difference. He’s a Senate candidate. He’s making a conscious decision to try to elect to One Nation to the Senate, just as the LNP’s preferences could get Clive Palmer elected to the Senate. Julie Collins’ preferences won’t be counted. She’ll finish either one or two. I suspect she’ll finish first. I certainly hope she does, and that would explain why that’s the case. The question here is: Has there been a deal? Yes there has been a deal between Steve Martin and One Nation, and yes, there has been a deal between Scott Morrison and Clive Palmer. Labor has not done deals with either of those organisations.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, we’ll need to let you go. Thanks for coming in this morning.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much Leon.
HOST: Anthony Albanese. You’re on Mornings around Tasmania.
WEDNESDAY, 1 MAY 2019
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.