Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Carrum - Victorian Labor’s promise to removal 50 dangerous level crossings; Australian jobs;

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

PRESS CONFERENCE

THURSDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2014

CARRUM

 

SUBJECT/S: Victorian Labor’s promise to removal 50 dangerous level crossings; Australian jobs; East-West Link; Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the ABC; FoFA regulations; National security legislation.

 

DANIEL ANDREWS, LEADER OF THE VICTORIAN OPPOSITION: Thank you for being here, I'm so pleased to be here with Bill Shorten and so many members of my team. As you all know, 12 months ago as part of Project 10,000, Labor announced we would get rid of the 50 most deadly and dangerous congested level crossings across our city because we know that too many people have died, too much time has been wasted and that these boom gates are a relic of the past. We’ve got to get rid of them because they’re holding us back from running more trains more often as well. I'm very pleased today to make the last of the announcements of the full 50. Labor in Government, if we are given that great honour, will remove Station Street, Carrum level crossing and we’ll remove the Eel Race Road, Seaford level crossing. Both are dangerous, both are congested and both will go but only under a Labor Government. These are our priorities, these are our plans, this is our optimistic and positive plan for the State's future. This is, really, these are relics of the past, horses and carts used to get stuck at these boom gates. They've gone but the level crossings remain. That's why we’ve laid out a clear plan, 50 in total, right across our city. They've got to go and only Labor has a comprehensive plan and the will to make sure that these death traps are gone. That's our plan and that's now the choice for the Victorian community.

 

But I want to make a further announcement that I think is just as important. Obviously we know that there are many challenges in terms of employment in our state at the moment. 65,000 extra Victorians are on the unemployment queue today compared to four years ago. In many different industries, in many different areas, Labor has proudly said the Victoria taxpayer dollars should support Victorian jobs. And when it comes to our comprehensive plan to remove those 50 deadly level crossings, we want to make sure that we support Victorian jobs as well. And that's why I am so pleased and so proud to be able to announce that all the steel that will be required for the removal of these 50 deadly congested level crossings will be Australian steel. Australian steel for Australian jobs. Now we’ve seen a lot of talk about buying local but big talk won't protect jobs in Victoria, only a big order from a Labor Government will achieve that. We will make sure that 100 per cent of the steel for each and every one of the 50 level crossings that only Labor will remove will be Australian steel. Now to put that in some context before I go to your questions, there are around 10,000 Victorians whose livelihoods depend upon the steel industry. These 50 level crossings and the steel required to make them happen will support those 10,000 workers, their families, their prosperity, that's what's most important. I'm more than happy to take your questions.

 

JOURNALIST: Will more steel be required for these crossings than for the East-West Link?

 

ANDREWS: Look, I'm not certain about what will be required for whichever stage of the East-West Link people are talking about. I have different priorities. We’re going to get rid of the 50 most dangerous and congested level crossings and we’re going to make sure the Victoria taxpayer dollars support Victorian jobs.

 

JOURNALIST: So how much steel then will be required for the 50 level crossings and what sort of dollar terms are we talking?

 

ANDREWS: It will depend obviously on the engineering treatment for each site and we’ve been very clear from the start that some sites the rail will go under the road, other sites they’ll be a different treatment. Again, I think the most important thing is to send the strongest possible message that we think and we will make sure that Victorian taxpayers' dollars support Victorian jobs. We’ve been very careful not to, if you like, signal to tenderers what the reserve price is but I think this is hundreds of millions of dollars supporting thousands of jobs in the steel industry. It is a big order and, can I say, Andrew, an eight year program of works. A regular order book. That's what the steel industry has told us they need and that's what a Labor Government will deliver.

 

JOURNALIST: How much extra cost will this add to the project?

 

ANDREWS: We think that there is a very, very small increase in cost potentially but, actually, I think if you give the Australian steel sector a chance, if you give them a go and if you say ‘We will buy from you over eight years’, the best workers in the world, the best processors in the world, they will provide the best quality product at a best value price. I'm very confident of that. This is not one order. This is a long-term order book for the steel industry because Victorian taxpayers' money should support Victorian jobs.

 

JOURNALIST: What about using steel for tracks, tram tracks, I know we’ve got the largest tram network in the world, but apparently we get all of them from Austria.

 

ANDREWS: Well, and it would seem also under Denis Napthine, not the promises he makes in a desperate attempt at the last minute in an election campaign, but you can all recall that botched tender process for the Dandenong rail corridor. Those train sets were going to be made and may well still be made in China or Korea or India. Just like the Waratahs in Sydney were made in in China, and they’ve spent more time in the workshop than on the tracks. We announced two years ago as part of our plan for jobs and growth that we would be assertive and we would be proud to buy local and to make sure we that view best value in a broad context for skills, for diversity and, of course, for the best possible price. But I think these industries are worth fighting for and that's exactly what a Labor Government will do. On that point, can I say that the leadership in industry policy and putting Australian jobs first has come from Bill and his team has been outstanding and perhaps I might ask Bill to make a few comments on this.

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Dan. What is clear is that there is only one team in this election who’s got a plan for jobs in Victoria. Everyone knows that since Tony Abbott became Prime Minister of Australia, unemployment’s gone up, not down. Everybody knows that Victorian manufacturing has been buffeted and beaten up by the neglect of the Abbott government. Victorian manufacturing, Victorian jobs, Victorian blue collar jobs, smart technical jobs: need a Victorian champion. The problem for Denis Napthine in the last year and a bit is that he has had the chance to either be on the side of the Victorian people when it comes to jobs or on the side of Tony Abbott and his political team.

 

Denis Napthine has failed the test that Premiers always have to try and pass. That is the test do you back the politics of your team in Canberra or do you back jobs in Victoria? There will be a lot of employers, a lot of small businesses who will be breathing a sigh of relief when they hear Daniel’s announcement today. Small business, they often say to me ‘why is it that governments don't back up Australia or don't back up Victoria?’ The politicians they would say, with lots of long words about defending Australian jobs. Daniel Andrews is the only candidate in this election who has got a no-nonsense, on-the-table plan to back Victorian and national jobs. That's why I think this announcement’s going to be very well received across a whole lot of industries. They will say ‘at last, we’ll have a potential Premier who’s on our side, not playing politics in Canberra with Tony Abbott’.

 

JOURNALIST: Isn’t this making up for what they will lose from the East-West contracts the Government will bring them?

 

ANDREWS: Well I'm here to outline very different priorities and we announced our plan, our comprehensive plan to remove 50 dangerous and congested level crossings, fully, 12 months ago. Because I’ve always understood, I have always understood and known, that my fundamental obligation is to give Victorians a choice and that's what the 29th of November is all about. Whether we get rid of the 50 most dangerous and congested level crossings, get on and improve local roads and make sure that we have the best possible public transport system. I will never ask Victorians to get out of their car, to leave their car at home and get on to a second rate public transport system. I won't do it. And that's why we have outlined a comprehensive plan to remove dangerous congested level crossings, to build better local roads and to build the best possible public transport system.

 

JOURNALIST: The Treasurer has asked Treasury to cost your Moomba rail promise and it’s come in underfunded by up to $300 million, should people be able to trust your estimates on costings of policies?

 

ANDREWS: Look, Michael O'Brien is running a political process, a Liberal Party process –

 

JOURNALIST: Through Treasury?

 

ANDREWS: A Liberal Party process. Be in no doubt about that. A Liberal Party process that is highly political, highly political. Our costings, carefully, methodically, as it should be, they will be provided and we have been working with leading global accounting firm Moore Stephens for the best part of year and we think that the usual way, that's the way these things should be done. I'm not going to be submitting Labor's positive, optimistic plan for our State's future to the Liberal Party for their approval and I‘ll tell you why. Because the Liberal Party are irrelevant to my plans to put people first.

 

JOURNALIST: More than 100,000 Victorians have voted in pre-polls, shouldn't they know what your policies are going to cost [inaudible]?

 

ANDREWS: And Moore Stephens, the leading global accounting firm, will provide that sign off. It is very curious that the normal way, that is to say, the way it was conducted last time, the way it was conducted the time before that, we’re going to do this the normal way, a leading global accounting firm signing off on the hard work that we’ve done, the careful and cautious work that we’ve done. All of our commitments are costed and funded and if we’re given the great honour of governing this State, all of our commitments will be delivered in full, in full.

 

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, do you agree with Daniel that the East-West Link contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on and could be torn up come November 30?

 

SHORTEN: There are several things I'd like to say about East-West, thank you for asking. First of all, the Abbott Government - Tony Abbott does not know Victoria, he doesn’t know Victoria. I’ve spent my whole life living in Melbourne. And what I know is that we are a flatter city than Sydney or Brisbane. Level crossings have been a fact of life in Victoria and Tony Abbott wouldn’t know that. I don’t think he’s ever caught a train in Melbourne, and you should ask him, Tony Abbott have you ever caught a train from Flinders Street, have you ever met someone under the clocks, ever caught a train? I don't think he knows what a tram is. But the point about his public transport policy is, and this is what’s relevant to East-West is, he doesn't believe that rail is the responsibility of funding of the Federal Government at all. But how on earth can you sort out our great cities if you don't give people an alternative from driving the car and catching a train.

 

That’s why he doesn’t, he thinks a level crossing is what he does to the health budget in reducing it. He doesn't know what it is in terms of the delays that we see here and other places. Then we get on to East-West, what we need in East-West – that's the winds of change people -- what we need is costed business plans. This guy is - Tony Abbott’s in the twilight zone: he doesn't think climate change is real, he doesn't like Barack Obama anymore and he certainly doesn't believe in costing business plans for multibillion dollar contracts. We cannot afford to waste taxpayers' money on projects which simply are not as important as solving Melbourne's transport congestion as the trains. Too many Melbournians sit in their cars for hours each day, which adds up to weeks and then years, which adds up to a long time in their life because we haven't sorted out the level crossings. My message to Tony Abbott is that Melbourne is a flatter city than Sydney and we need to deal with our level crossings and we need to make sure that our rail links are working, then we can have the discussion about roads.

 

JOURNALIST: So would you support State Labor tearing up the contracts then?

 

SHORTEN: I support Daniel Andrews becoming Premier of Victoria. Let me be really clear about my presence here. There is one federal leader in Australian politics who is taking part in this federal election, and it is not Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott has run out of excuses not to be in Victoria. There are no more world leaders left to visit this country. He needs to move away from koala cuddly shots with Vladimir Putin and get on and start talking to people in Victoria about how Denis Napthine’s going to have more weight with him because he’s not. Denis Napthine has had a year and three months to demonstrate his bona fides for standing up for Victoria against Canberra. And Tony Abbott is a scared of Denis Napthine as Vladimir Putin is worried about Tony Abbott.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on the financial advice changes in the Senate, doesn’t this just create more uncertainty for the industry given the Government wants to be pushing to get it through?

 

SHORTEN: Yesterday was a fantastic day for tens of thousands of consumers standing up and seeking good financial advice. Yesterday’s come too late to protect the tens of thousands of people who’ve been ripped off by dodgy planners and vested interests in this country. What happened yesterday is the Abbott Government doing what it does best, standing up for a few vested interests and dodgy financial planners. They were trying to water down laws which would mean tens of thousands of people would have their lifesavings squandered in the future through bad financial advice because of poor protection through consumer laws. What happened yesterday is Labor has stuck to its guns and a sufficient number of Senators agreed with Labor’s position. So yesterday was a giant win for consumers. There are a lot of good financial planners out there, lots of great accountants and they are all breathing a sigh of relief that these watering down of the laws, which would have kept the good old boys flogging their bad advice for vested interests, they are now going to have to lift their standards and that’s great for consumers.  Yep, the good guys had a win yesterday and the vested interests and the dodgy financial planners, well they’re going to have to saddle up their horses and leave town.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on cuts to the ABC, apparently Senator Ian MacDonald has said that its different to Julia Gillard’s promise on the carbon tax because her promise was a very, very core promise. Do you think there’s a difference between the two?

 

SHORTEN: It is official in Australia; the Abbott Government has taken us into the twilight zone of politics. Now they’re saying that when Labor makes a promise that has to be kept, fair enough, but when it comes to Liberal’s it’s no longer just a core or a non-core promise, it’s no longer something that’s said before the election. The Liberal Party have read a book of hypnotism and they are trying to hypnotise the Australian people that whatever Tony Abbott said before the election didn’t happen. Well on the night before the election Tony Abbott in a desperate race to buy the votes of the Australian people promised them solemnly, there was no ambiguity, no weasel words, no buts or maybes or fingers crossed behind his back or toes crossed - what he said is “no cuts to the ABC”.

 

Tony Abbott is one of the most right-wing, extremist Prime Ministers this country has ever had and he has got an agenda to water down and diminish and weaken the relevance of the ABC. Tony Abbott has made the role of the ABC in public broadcasting in this country a national election issue and Tony Abbott I give you one piece of advice – bring it on, your fight with the ABC. There are a lot people, Liberal voters, Labor voters, people who vote for anyone, who believe in the role of an independent ABC. I wonder if Denis Napthine is going to agree with Tony Abbott on the ABC or not? Doesn’t matter. I’d rather have Daniel Andrews standing up for the ABC in Victoria than mini-me of people in Canberra, Tony Abbott.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on the national security legislation, the third tranche dealing with metadata, has Labor decides what it’s going to do in terms of that?

 

SHORTEN: Well were very fortunate to have the hard working Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus here with us and he’d be able to talk to you afterwards about this matter in detail and I congratulate him on the work he’s been doing to stand up for the rights of ordinary Australians while still achieving security for our nation. In terms of the metadata legislation, it’s been presented to the Parliament; Labor believes that we’ve got two very important principles to deal with here. One is our national security. Labor has made it clear that when it comes to fighting terrorism, Labor and Liberal are in this together. But then the second thing is we need to do is weight up the rights of individuals and their principles of privacy. We believe that this matter should be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee and the matter should be dealt with in an intelligent and careful way. We believe that the community should have a voice in terms of making sure that what is being proposed in terms of changes to their privacy that their voices are heard. And we also want to hear from the police and security agencies.  Careful, calm debate is what Australians expect of their parliament when it comes to national security and Labor’s certainly signed up for that process.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Andrews, why couldn’t you find half an hour for Neil Mitchell this morning for a Q&A with Victorians?

ANDREWS: I spoke to Neil Mitchell last night and agreed that it was unfortunate that we couldn’t make the times work out but I’m going to be on the show next week and I’ll be delighted to take as many talkback callers on any issue as we possibly can. Thank you all very much.

 

ENDS

 

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