THURSDAY, 12 APRIL 2018
SUBJECT/S: Armadale Line Extension; Byford Station Creation; Fair Share for Western Australia Fund; Melbourne Airport Rail link; China Diplomatic Relations; Regional WA; NZ resettlement of refugees; South African farmers; NDIS.
MATT KEOGH, MEMBER FOR BURT: Good morning everyone and welcome here to sunny Armadale.
So Armadale is deep in the heart of my electorate of Burt. It's great to have you all here and it's great to be joined by Labor Leader Bill Shorten, by Labor's Candidate for Canning which starts just up the hill, Mellisa Teede, and of course Premier Mark McGowan and Minister of Transport, Rita Saffioti.
We're here today because this is part of demonstrating Labor's clear commitment, because Labor understands the issues that confront the people of Armadale, the issues that confront the people of these southeastern suburbs of Perth. The issues that confront the people of Byford.
These are rapidly growing outer suburban areas and they need connectivity. They need connectivity like trains and public transport and good roads so that people can get to where they need to be, whether it's for work or for study, or all the other things and services that people need to be able to do.
And we've seen that through Labor's commitment and delivery of projects like the duplication of Armadale Road, fixing up of Denny Avenue, a new bridge for Armadale Road and the freeway, and of course the Metronet projects.
Things like extending the Thornlie railway line with new stations in Canningvale, and critically for these rapidly growing outer suburban areas, extending the Armadale railway line through to Byford.
The people of Byford need that connection. This is a rapidly growing area. Thousands of people moving into the area and they need to be better connected not just to the city of Perth, but also to places like right here in Armadale. Being able to access our shopping centres, being able to access essential government services here, being able to access the TAFE just down the road.
That's important for the people of Byford and by extending this railway line to Byford they will be able to access all of those services and more. But for the people of Armadale it will mean as people from Byford come here more and more we will see an increase in retail activity, and critically, jobs.
We'll see more job opportunities for the people of Armadale and the surrounding regions. And of course there will be the construction work which will provide even more jobs which is so important for these growing suburbs and for the entire state.
Federal Labor is committed to projects like this and we want to see them happen. That's why I'm so glad to have all of these people, in particular Labor's Leader Bill Shorten here. And I'm going to hand over to Bill to talk about Labor's commitment to seeing this project happen. Thanks Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Matt. Good morning everybody. It's the sixth day of my visit to Western Australia and it's great to be here with Matt Keogh and Mellisa Teede, Labor's representatives at the federal level in this area.
It's also great to be here a with my friend Premier Mark McGowan, and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, and other State Labor Members of Parliament.
I'm here to announce that if Labor is elected at the next federal election, we will contribute $241 million to extend the rail line from Armadale another eight kilometres to Byford, and to help build a railway station at Byford.
Cities need public transport. Metronet and Western Australia is a fantastic idea. The business case is very well put together. There's been amazing advocacy from the McGowan Government about putting the resources into building better rail lines.
Today finishes a series of announcements we have made previously from, the Morley-Ellenbrook extension, the Midland Bellevue extension, plus also the road projects we've announced with Stevenson Avenue road interchange and of course extending the Mitchell Freeway from Hester Avenue down to Romeo Road in Perth's north western suburbs.
Labor has a vision for Western Australia which is all about improving the communication, the liveability and decreasing the congestion. The announcement today of this extra $241 million is part of Federal Labor's Fair Share for West Australia Fund which recognises that the West hasn't been getting a fair deal on the GST, and it's also about creating long-term, sustainable, good quality jobs. The project we're announcing today will generate 3000 direct and indirect jobs.
It'll improve the liveability of the suburbs beyond Armadale and it'll I think provide a great economic boost.
I'm now happy to hand over to Premier Mark McGowan to talk further about this exciting project.
MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks everyone, and thanks Bill. And can I in particular thank Federal Labor for this important $240 million commitment to the Byford rail extension.
As we know Byford is a rapidly growing area. You'll go to Byford today and you'll see a sea of houses and more springing up. It's actually the fastest growing suburban area in Australia and it deserves a rail line, and this $240 million commitment from Federal Labor will assist us to provide that rail line as part of our Metronet plan.
We are very committed. We are very committed to rail. I see you know about Metronet and our extension to Ellenbrook, our extension to Yanchep, the Thornlie-Cockburn link, and the Byford extension are all important parts of making sure that Perth is a much more connected city, that we have much greater usage of public transport, and we connect people into job opportunities around our city and around our state.
So Byford has missed out. Byford has missed out before. I don't think there's been sufficient recognition of the massive growth in that suburban area. This $240 million commitment from Federal Labor will assist us to put Metronet through to Byford and make sure we provide those job opportunities, that exciting connectivity and the opportunity for kids in Byford to access everything that Western Australia has to offer.
So I'd like to thank Federal Labor for their commitment.
RITA SAFFIOTI, MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND PLANNING: Thanks again, just reiterating the Premier's comments.
As we know Bill Shorten's Fair Share Fund is really about recognising the need to contribute to WA's infrastructure.
Byford is one of those areas where we've seen a lot of new families move into. We want them connected to jobs, we want them connected to education opportunities as part of our Metronet plan.
It's all about making sure that we have new housing, with new rail infrastructure and new public transport, and this is a big step today.
I'll take any questions on this and then we'll pass on to - any questions? All good?
SHORTEN: Are there any other questions?
JOURNALIST: Yes, since we're on rail. Will a Shorten Labor Government support the proposed $5 billion dollar train line to Melbourne airport? And would you call on the Victorian Government to back it?
SHORTEN: I've previously been on the record supporting the need to have a light rail or a public transport link between Melbourne and Tullamarine Airport. There's plenty of congestion and the number of flights - the number of passengers coming in and out of Tullamarine has been increasing, so this has been long overdue and much talked about and I do support it. I support having a connection.
Now is the time though to make sure that we explain to the people how it will actually work. What we now need to do is belt and brace it with some proper planning, some proper detail and of course some proper consultation.
I want to take traffic out of the backyards of people living in the north western suburbs of Melbourne where I live, and where I understand the problems of congestion.
I want to make sure though, we're not just taking people's backyards as well. So it's very important that when you make a sort of a statement of principle about building a link, which I do support the principle of, that we now do things in the proper way.
Let's have the consultation with the people. Let's study the business case. Let's make sure there is the business case and let's advance it from there.
JOURNALIST: Should the US be telegraphing plans to strike missiles through social media?
SHORTEN: Listen, I've made it a practice not to comment about the American President's tweets, but going to the deeper issue, which is shocking and barbaric use of chemical warfare against citizens in Syria. The attacks are absolutely despicable and barbaric. And the Assad regime has a record of using chemical weapons against its own citizens.
Unfortunately because the Russians used a veto at a United Nations Security Council, that is effectively condoning what has been happening in Syria. I think we need to see the Russians step up. I think they need to support chemical weapons inspectors being sent in and being safe to actually investigate and make sure there are not chemical weapons available.
Beyond that, I did previously, and Labor did previously, support the proportionate response used by the Americans last year. Beyond that, I do think that we can't allow the use of chemical weapons against civilians to go unchallenged.
JOURNALIST: Reports this morning that China has refused visas to several Federal Ministers, and the Australia Week in China expo might be cancelled - have relations with China hit a new low?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull said that no visas have actually been refused. I think the Government needs to clarify this issue. There's no doubt I think that in recent times, the relationship with China has been, had more turbulence in it than you'd normally want to see. But China is a very important part of Australia's future. I know that if we're in government, we'll make sure that relations work in a constructive fashion.
JOURNALIST: Has this government been treating the region with disdain?
SHORTEN: I don't want to do foreign policy on the run at the Armadale railway station, sorry.
JOURNALIST: The WA Nationals say they have been ignored this week in your funding commitments. Do you agree with that? Do you think -
SHORTEN: The WA Nationals?
SHORTEN: Alright, okay. No, they're wrong. I've been out in Kalgoorlie, that was a great visit.
No, the WA Nationals are talking out of their hat. Labor's proposals for infrastructure will benefit West Australian business. I visited Kalgoorlie, I visited one of the largest open cut gold mines there. I'm interested in how we provide more skilled workers and mining engineers. That's got to be good for the regions. I'm interested in how we can help diversify Kalgoorlie's economy, and the Goldfields - Kalgoorlie-Boulder's economy - and the Goldfields economy. I think that Labor's policies of making sure that there are not cuts to regional hospitals. There's been $15 million worth of cuts in regional hospitals in Western Australia under the current Federal Government. We want to make sure that schools in regional Western Australia are properly funded.
If the Nats want to do something for the regions, don't vote for cuts to hospitals, don't vote for cuts to schools and do something about lifting the very weak wages growth in Western Australian regions.
JOURNALIST: Should the Government accept a long-standing offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 refugees from Manus and Nauru across the ditch?
SHORTEN: Well, I think they should accept the offer. I've said that in the past. As soon as I said that we should work with New Zealand to resettle some of the people on Manus and Nauru, Dutton and the rest of the Government piled in on me and accuse me of working with the bad guys. Now it turns out that even though the Government bagged Labor for saying that Australia should look at the resettlement offer from New Zealand, it turns out that behind everyone's back they've been doing exactly that.
This Turnbull Government's got to stop using immigration as a political football - or indeed using immigration for various leadership aspirants to trail their coat to the right wing of the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you have sympathy for the plight of white South African farmers and do you think that Australia should accept more or a bigger intake of these people?
SHORTEN: I've got sympathy for everyone anywhere who are the victims of violence. Violence doesn't discriminate between someone's skin colour though, and nor does Australia's immigration policy. So yes, I have sympathy for people who are the victims of violence - not just overseas, but in this country too. But we have maintained a non-discriminatory immigration policy and that's a policy which I note the Government's also supporting.
JOURNALIST: If all states and territories support the Government's National Energy Guarantee - will Federal Labor?
SHORTEN: There are a few big ifs there, aren't there? We do want to see though an end of uncertainty, of policy uncertainty. The single biggest driver of energy prices in this country go up and up and up is a lack of policy certainty. One thing's for sure; the Government has to get over its political game playing and its aversion to renewable energy.
Labor if elected supports reaching 50 per cent of our energy mix by 2030, coming from renewable energy sources. Renewable energy is getting cheaper every day and the technology is working better and better. I want consumers and small businesses to pay lower household bills.
So we're up for policy certainty but the Government, if it wants policy certainty has got to ceasefire on its war against renewable energy.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that your funding announcements all week have sort of resonated with WA voters so far out from an election?
SHORTEN: The reason why we're making our announcements well before any election is because I've got respect for the voters. I think voters hate it when you just turn up at the last minute and make big announcements which you know, they're appropriately cynical about. But what's good about our promises we've been announcing is that the West Australian Government's advocacy means that a lot of the work and the detail is done. So I'm confident when we propose extending the rail line from Armadale to Byford - I'm confident because of the work of the McGowan Government and the work of our own local representatives like Matt Keogh, this is a well anchored and designed policy. I think that when you've got an announcement, get it out early and talk to the people. See what they think, see what fine tuning they want to present back to you.
And the reason why we're doing this is because Western Australia hasn't been getting its fair share of GST and only Labor can be trusted to deal with the real issues of Western Australia.
And the other reason why we can make these announcements so far out is because I'm not giving $65 billion dollars to large multinationals and big banks. Mr Turnbull says that if you've got taxpayer money, he wants to give it away to the big end of town. I believe that taxpayer money is precious, every dollar. And if you're going to expend it, it has got to be in the interests of working and middle class people.
I would much rather see $240 million spent to build eight kilometres of railway line here, than give it away to NAB, CommBank, ANZ or Westpac who are already raking in the profits.
JOURNALIST: How have you found the reception and have you a sense that there is still a disengagement in WA with Canberra politics whilst the national debate seems to be centred on things like energy in a very east-coast-centric way. Is there a sense of disengagement in WA that you've found troubling?
SHORTEN: I think people are pleased with the change of state government - that's the first thing I must observe. I think that people cannot believe the mess that the Liberals got Western Australia into over eight and a half years.
Beyond that, I think the disengagement with Canberra is that people think that the politicians are just in it for themselves. What I am endeavouring to do is demonstrate that we are listening to the West. I don't come here like my opposite number just to say you've got a problem then scoot off two hours later in a plane. I've spent six days here. What we recognise is that the solutions to Western Australia's growth, to being a fair society, a liveable community, are found here. So I come here and I listen.
That's why I did a public meeting at the Wanneroo Tavern; hundreds of people, just listening to their views. I think people are beginning to listen to Labor federally. I think they're off the other side. They can't that believe Mr Turnbull is so out of touch that he just talks about tax cuts for big business.
What middle and working class people want in Western Australia is they want to know that they can afford to see the doctor when they're sick. They want to know that their kids are attending schools which are well-resourced. They want to be sure that their kids when they grow up can get an apprenticeship or go to university if that's what they want to do. They want to make sure that when they grow old that there's not long waiting lists. They want to make sure that hospitals are properly funded. They want to make sure the train lines are getting built and congestion is getting dealt with.
I think our message is a good message for the West but I'm going to keep coming back and back and back and listening and working.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten is there one view that you've heard? Like in all that listening of people over six days, is there one thing that has struck you, new that you've heard from WA?
SHORTEN: I think that the end of the mining boom and the long period of growth, came as a bit of a shock to people. I think people had sort of factored in a certain level of financial affluence and when that came to a halt, I think people looked around at levels of government said well, we've been paying our taxes what you can do for us?
Now, I actually think that people realise that Perth for example, is growing rapidly. But if you like, the infrastructure hasn't been keeping pace. What people want is a plan from government. Mark McGowan and Rita Safiotti in the state team, they've got a plan. What they want from us federally is not to talk about ourselves but to talk about the people.
The big message I'm getting out of the West is: don't tell us that there's a problem with GST, do something about it. Don't tell us that there's a problem in terms of our economy, what are you going to do to generate sustainable jobs.
Perth and Western Australia is tremendously liveable. It's a fantastic part of the world. My family have enjoyed being over here, it is a great place. They just want a bit of love from Canberra to make sure that we're backing them up when, you know a helping hand is required.
JOURNALIST: The AMA has said today that you should support a rise in the Medicare Levy across all income tax brackets to properly fund the NDIS. Will you do that?
SHORTEN: No, I don't agree the AMA at all. You know, I think the AMA is being used as a pawn there by the Government. The fact of the matter is why is it that with people profound and severe disabilities, Malcolm Turnbull says someone on $50,000 has got to pay more tax when we're giving away $65 billion in tax handouts to big business?
Running a government is all about priorities. Mr Turnbull says the only way you can look after people with disability is people on $50-60,000 paying more tax. I say wrong, wrong and wrong, Malcolm. What you need to do is you need to actually stop giving tax cuts to millionaires, stop handing away billions of dollars in tax subsidies to the very wealthy - there is another way to fund the NDIS and to fund the Government and to fund railway lines and to fund schools and hospitals - don't give away billions of dollars to the top end of town and millionaires who are already doing very well, thank you very much.
Listen, it's been a great visit. I don't know if you have got state issues for Mark but it's been lovely to see you all. I look forward to seeing you again very soon.