Subjects: AdeLINK tram proposal; public transport funding; Whyalla steelworks
PRESENTER: In the absence of two tribes, one tribe.
PRESENTER: One tribe.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: One warrior!
PRESENTER: That’s right. Anthony Albanese’s in the studio.
PRESENTER: You’re right. It’s a solo warrior, up against –
PRESENTER: Well, Chris Pyne. He’s a local MP.
PRESENTER: He’s up in the air, though. He’s not here. He’s on a plane flying back from Perth to Adelaide.
PRESENTER: We’d be forgiven for perhaps thinking it was organised that way, having heard Anthony on last week say he was going to be in Adelaide.
ALBANESE: I came all this way to talk to you two guys.
PRESENTER: I hope you’re not billing the taxpayers for that. It’s actually very good timing though, because this is something that’s been discussed a lot here in Adelaide, on and off over the last few years.
In a way it takes us back to the golden era of tram tracks if it actually eventuates.
But your big announcement for this Adelaide visit is that Federal Labor has committed to jointly funding the rollout of what would be a tram network running north, south, east, west, out of the CBD.
ALBANESE: We’ve committed to working with the South Australian Government and Infrastructure Australia on this.
We funded, when we were in Government last time the Noarlunga to Seaford line, promised it, funded it, built it, it’s now opened – a huge success.
And we also funded the Gawler line electrification that’s been stopped essentially halfway through.
We are committing to putting that money back and Bill Shorten stated that last year, that that cut should not have occurred.
And that’s been identified as the number one priority by Infrastructure Australia.
I’ve been meeting with the South Australian ministers respectively, Stephen Mulligan and Tom Koutsantonis, the Treasurer, about the expansion of the tram network here in Adelaide.
I think it’s a very exciting project.
PRESENTER: So how would you pay for it though?
I mean it’s a huge amount of money because it’s – the back of a beer coaster sum is that tram projects like these cost about a billion dollars for every 10 kilometres.
So if we go from here to Port Adelaide, to Mitcham, to Prospect, to the eastern end of The Parade, and also down to Henley Beach, that’s about 35km of infrastructure which would cost $3.5 billion roughly.
The private sector’s got to be a huge part of this, doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: Of course it does, and one of the things that would happen with such a project is that you would have uplift value along the route, so you’d look at ways in which you could get some private sector financing into the project.
But it would create jobs in the short term. We need job creation here in South Australia.
Of course one of the benefits of rail is that it uses steel which is another big issue here in South Australia in terms of jobs and we want to work constructively.
While I’m here I’ll be having more discussions with the South Australian Government.
They’ve identified this as I think a visionary project.
Here, I think the costs that you see there are comparing costs in other cities; one of the advantages in Adelaide in terms of the route is that it’s flat, essentially, so the costs are not as great.
The other thing is that the streets are wide enough; you don’t have to subsume whole blocks.
PRESENTER: And a lot of it is just extending infrastructure, too. I’m talking about the Port Adelaide line; well that starts at Hindmarsh, on a road that is already, you know, six lanes wide.
ALBANESE: That’s right. And so it is, I think is a very sensible proposal.
Of course, infrastructure here in South Australia is being run at a bureaucratic level by Michael Deegan, who did a very good job when he was Infrastructure Coordinator for Infrastructure Australia.
He established all of that process and no doubt he’s overseeing the economics of this so it isn’t a day in which we’re committing dollars.
What we are saying though is that this is a project that is worthy of Commonwealth support and if you’re going to get such a big project up; the State Government can’t do it by itself.
It needs to work with the Federal Government and of course in Gawler’s case; it was cut by Tony Abbott when he came into office, because he cut all public transport funding.
Malcolm Turnbull says that he supports public transport – he just hasn’t funded any.
PRESENTER: Well, he has – the Gold Coast. The tram line there.
ALBANESE: He took $95 million that was a saving from the Moreton Bay Rail project that’s open next month and just reallocated it.
There was no additional funding. This would obviously require some additional funding. If he comes on board, all the better.
But the first thing he should do is put the money back for Gawler that was taken away, and he can do that on the 3rd of May.
I think that would show some bona fides on his behalf.
PRESENTER: Didn’t he already mention High Speed Rail?
ALBANESE: High Speed Rail is a thought bubble that they came up with on Monday and then it didn’t even last ‘til Monday afternoon. They sent Angus Taylor out.
And that’s the problem for this government. You need actually considered proposals on infrastructure. That’s why today we’re saying we’ll have a considered approach to this.
It has merit but we want to see the economics of it all and we want to work constructively.
PRESENTER: Can we switch for a moment to Whyalla and the future of Arrium steelworks there.
In fact, putting it to one side, the policy position of the Federal Labor Party is to compel state and federal governments to use Australian steel for projects.
We had the Premier on yesterday of South Australia and he told us protectionism isn’t the way of the future and today there’s a revelation that the biggest construction project in the state’s history, the new RAH contains steel from overseas.
Does that disappoint you? Can you not trust state governments to look after their own best interests?
ALBANESE: I think that the work that we did when we were in government with the Economic Stimulus Plan, for example, we put in about four and a half billion into the Australian Rail Track Corporation that’s based here, to essentially do re-railing of the lines, right around Australia, all the freight network and to do concrete sleepers.
Now, part of that arrangement with the ARTC was getting the steel from Whyalla.
And that’s why when Malcolm Turnbull a couple of weeks ago announced a bring forward of some of the money that we allocated over the ten years to do the line between here and Perth, we said they should bring more of that forward.
We did that without any fuss.
PRESENTER: So why couldn’t the state government have that kind of fuss? Particularly when they’ve had a crack at the NSW Government for using cheap Spanish steel.
I mean, it now emerges that they didn’t put their money where their mouth is with the RAH.
ALBANESE: Well, I think it makes sense to get the most out of Australian Government investment at whatever level.
And you get more out of it if you’re creating jobs here. That produces an income back.
Those workers at Whyalla, you have to think of what happens if it shuts down?
If Whyalla shuts down, you lost the income tax of all those people who are currently paying income tax.
You lose the multiplier effect because the town effectively would have a massive impact and downgrade, so the people who are working at the hot food bar, the pub and everything else gets hit as well.
So you lose that revenue. I’m not a protectionist. I’m in favour of an open economy.
But we have to be real about this. Other countries are providing cheap steel here to compete not on a level playing field.
So we have to acknowledge that the market isn’t pure here, and respond accordingly.
PRESENTER: Hey, enjoy your time in Adelaide Anthony Albanese and we’ll follow this tram business with interest.
Shall we read much into the fact that you’re spending quite a bit of time hanging out in Hindmarsh with Steve Georganas?
Is that one of the seats that Labor could win?
PRESENTER: It’s a good part of the world.
ALBANESE: It is a great part of the world.
PRESENTER: You might like a very fast tram, stopping at Lockleys!
PRESENTER: Geez, that’d be nice.
PRESENTER: Can we organise that?
ALBANESE: I’m aware of that particular facility, actually!
But Steve Georganas is a mate of mine, I want him back as a colleague and I think he’s got a pretty good show of doing so.
Yesterday we were at the Torrens to Torrens section of the South Road upgrade.
We were there in 2013 at the beginning of the pre-construction with Kate Ellis and Tom Koutsantonis and it was great to go and have a look at it.
And that’s to the credit of Steve Georganas so I’m hoping to get him back on the team.
PRESENTER: We’ll see what Matt Williams has to say about that.
PRESENTER: We should probably give Chris Pyne a quick right of reply.
PRESENTER: Chris will be back, brassy as ever this Friday, so it was One Tribe today but we’ll restore the balance when Chris Pyne returns.
ALBANESE: He’s not defending anyone today. I’ll talk to you on Friday from Sydney.
PRESENTER: Absolutely. Thanks for coming in. Enjoy your stay in Adelaide.
ALBANESE: Great to be here.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.