TUESDAY, 10 APRIL 2018
Subject/s: Extension of Stephenson Avenue; Labor’s Fair Share for WA fund; LNP Cabinet leaks; Immigration; GST; Live exports; ATO.
MELITA MARKEY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR STIRLING: I'm Melita Markey and I'm the Federal Labor Candidate for Stirling, and I'm very pleased to welcome this morning our Leader, Mr Bill Shorten, our Premier Mark McGowan, our Minister for Planning and Transport Ms Rita Saffioti, our Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Anthony Albanese our Member for Balcatta, Mr David Michael and our Mayor Mr Mark Irwin, to make a fantastic announcement for the City of Stirling. So thank you for joining us.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Melita, it's great to be here with Premier Mark McGowan, his Minister Rita Saffioti, my Shadow Infrastructure Spokesperson Anthony Albanese and of course local Member for Balcatta and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Stirling.
I'm pleased to announce, that a Federal Labor Government will invest $64 million in the extension of Stephenson Avenue and the creation of a new freeway interchange. Anyone who knows the area of Stirling knows that this will unlock business potential. It's already a key CBD hub outside of Perth, it's central itself. This is an opportunity to improve public transport linkages, to grasp the benefits of the Westfield development, and to make sure that we can ensure there are more jobs created in the local area, and also we can assist people with the challenges of infrastructure congestion.
What drives Labor to do this is of course the excellent advocacy of Premier McGowan and the Government of Western Australia. It is long past the hour that Canberra invested a fair share of national resources in Western Australia. Western Australia was very hard hit following the end of the mining boom, but the problem is that the revenue coming from Canberra when Western Australia was doing it tough wasn't a fair share for Western Australia. Only Labor has a plan to invest national resources in Western Australia - a Fair Share Fund for Western Australia.
Today's exciting and 10-year-overdue commitment follows on our commitment to build better public transport with the extension from Midland to Bellevue, with the Morley-Ellenbrook railway line, and of course our exciting announcements in conjunction with the West Australian Government for the hospital at Joondalup.
I'd now like to pass over to Premier McGowan and then hear from Anthony Albanese and of course the State Minister and the Mayor as well about this exciting announcement which is just a fair share for Western Australia.
MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks, Bill. Can I thank Bill Shorten and the Federal Labor team for their commitment here to important infrastructure in the northern suburbs. As we know, in this area right here there's terrible gridlock on a daily basis and what this initiative will do is free up the traffic flow, unlock the capacity for development of land around here and create jobs for West Australians.
Anyone trying to exit the freeway to get to IKEA on any given weekend will know it's very difficult, and what this road initiative will do is free up this entire area - all the traffic, make sure that there's easier access into the Stirling business hub which employs 30,000 to 40,000 people, and also provide the opportunity for Westfield to expand, and for further opportunity for land development on many hectares of land through this area.
So today's announcement is about Federal Labor working with the State Government to create business opportunities, investment opportunities, jobs and also free up traffic here in the northern suburbs, and I'm sure people in the northern suburbs who deal with this traffic gridlock on a daily basis will welcome this announcement.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE: Thanks very much. I'm very pleased to be a part of this announcement. The City of Stirling came to see me in Sydney and then I committed to come here and see first-hand the proposals that they have in mind, not just for this, but the further stages that are planned, including light rail down to Scarborough Beach in the future, which this makes possible.
From the Government in Canberra, you hear a lot of rhetoric about cities. This is what a city deal looks like. Bottom-up, planning done properly by local government, working with state and federal government and working with the private sector. Westfield will make a contribution as part of this opening up of business opportunities. This is an exciting project and it's one that is overdue. It's one that Federal Labor is prepared to support as part of our commitment to making our cities more productive, more liveable and more sustainable.
It follows on from the Ellenbrook rail announcement, from the Midland announcement that we made yesterday, from the intersection of Leach Highway and Welshpool that we have said that we will also fix the greatest area of congestion of any intersection in Perth. Left alone urban congestion, according to Infrastructure Australia, will cost the WA economy eight times the current cost over the next couple of decades, up to $15 billion. That is why we need to act on projects like this and it's great to see the three levels of government again working with the private sector to deliver a fantastic outcome.
RITA SAFFIOTI, MINISTER FOR PLANNING AND TRANSPORT: Thank you very much. Again, this is one of our key election commitments that we made at the last election, working with local Member David Michael and of course with the city. This is a proposal that the city has put on the table for a number of years and we made the commitment of $60 million from our State Budget last year to this project.
As has been highlighted, this is one area where state, federal and local can work together to improve those transport connections, again highlighting a new freeway connection which will reduce congestion in the area, a better bus transfer system, again, which will reduce the issues relating to public transport, better connections to the station and also new PSP.
This is an overall vision that the City of Stirling have put forward and undertaken enormous planning in. The Stirling city centre then accompanied with a better connection to Scarborough beach is really the sort of plan the State Government wants to be involved in. The City of Stirling has undertaken a lot of planning. We're very happy to partner with them. As we said, it's all about creating a new city centre, it's about creating new developments and reducing congestion in the suburbs. That's our plan, that's part of our METRONET vision. It's really about getting better liveability and really making more use of the key destinations we have, and of course, the train station here is a magnificent train station. We need better connections and we also need more residential around that station. Thank you.
MARK IRWIN, MAYOR OF STIRLING: Thank you. We're thrilled to be here. This is a fantastic day for the City of Stirling. This project is our number one priority at the City of Stirling and for over 10 years we've been trying to seek Federal funding to secure the additional funding to allow us to start the new Stirling city centre. This is a visionary project and we believe it's Australia's largest urban regeneration project that will go ahead, creating jobs and housing and creating an opportunity for private investment.
Stage one of the project is the Stephenson Avenue extension and what that will do unlock potential for land and investment and it will provide for 33,000 new jobs and potentially provide for 25,000 new residents in the Stirling city centre. Of course, that will lead to the future which is stage two of this project and provide for light rail leading from Perth city central CBD, right through to our iconic new tourist destination of Scarborough beach. Once that is complete, potentially there will be 80,000 new jobs created, and provide for 63,000 new residents in the Stirling city centre. Again, we've been planning for this for over 12 years and we can assure you we are shovel ready for this project to go ahead. We're very excited about this project and we’re very excited to work with State and Federal government to now deliver this. Thank you.
SHORTEN: Are there any questions on this project to begin with, and then perhaps if there's other matters?
JOURNALIST: When would you hand over the money?
SHORTEN: We want to get elected first so if we want to get the money, if we want to get the project flowing, vote Labor at the next federal election. Any other questions on the project?
JOURNALIST: So in the first budget?
SHORTEN: Our aim would be to expend this in the first two years, yes.
JOURNALIST: Where do you and Labor - from Canberra, where do you and Labor stand on population policy?
SHORTEN: I think you're referring to a story which is a Cabinet leak where there appears to be a disagreement yet again in the Turnbull Government, this time on the question of migration numbers. It would appear that some people in the Cabinet are choosing to undermine and attack their colleagues by leaking the deliberations. Before I get to population let me just make it clear - this may seem a bit technical but Cabinet government requires solidarity, in that the discussions in Cabinet can be held and all options can be canvassed without them being used against each other. This is yet again another sign of the dysfunctional circus which is called the Turnbull Government.
In terms of population policy itself, the government has said that they're not decreasing the immigration intake. There's plenty of factors which go into population policy. I think the broader community issue beyond the internal civil war and hate-fest which is the government, is the issue of people's frustration at poor infrastructure, lack of access to housing and the issues in urban growth which are not adequately supported by Canberra. It is pretty interesting that on a day which we're announcing the Stephenson Avenue extension and the new freeway interchange, and as the mayor said a visionary project, urban renewal, this is what Australians want. In terms of population, we'll maintain an immigration policy which has a refugee component, a family reunion component, and of course, a skilled migration component.
JOURNALIST: So do you believe that the immigration intake should be cut until population policy is fully resolved?
SHORTEN: I'm not going to react to government hypotheticals and kite-flying. What we do when we are in government, is we always balance the issues of population growth with the rest of our economic plan. We do need immigration in this country, it is part of our economic growth story. But what we also need in this country is proper policy to deal with poor infrastructure. As Anthony outlined, this is a real city deal policy. This is about opening up underutilised areas close to the city. This is about ensuring that jobs flow and that people can move around our cities much more easily than they currently do. This is the way you help cities prosper and grow.
JOURNALIST: Is this part of the top-up GST plan, the money for this?
SHORTEN: Yes, it is.
JOURNALIST: Is that because you're at odds with the State Government in relation to what the plan should be on GST?
SHORTEN: Mark can easily speak on the matters. We're the only game in town when it comes to helping Western Australia get a better deal. I’ve said very clearly, as has Federal Labor, that we think what has happened to Western Australia and their share of GST hasn't been fair, they've been missing out. What we're doing is creatively and constructively addressing the concern that Western Australia's portion of the GST is too low. But the reason why we can create a Fair Share for Western Australia fund, why we can do the sort of projects which Anthony and I were outlining, is because we're not giving $65 billion away in useless tax giveaways to the top end of town.
Mr Turnbull could make these sorts of announcements plus more, if he wasn't handing away taxpayer money to large multinationals, to the four big banks, to foreign shareholders. What we are doing is we are ending the hunger games where we see different parts of Australia at each other’s throat. But let me be very clear; at least a 70 cents de facto floor is where Labor is headed, and I think anything less than that is short changing Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: That $1.6 billion is just for one year, isn't it?
SHORTEN: It's stretched over two years.
JOURNALIST: So what happens after that if the GST situation doesn't improve?
SHORTEN: We believe based on the forecasts even under the current system, that the distribution will improve. Of course, we have got to wait to see what the Productivity Commission says, and we'll continue to engage in constructive discussions with Premier McGowan and Western Australia, and we'll listen very carefully to their propositions after the Productivity Commission concludes its final review. Let's face it, the shortfall in GST is right now, and there's only one man in Australia who can fix the shortfall right now. His name is Malcolm Turnbull and where is he, where is Malcolm Turnbull? He came across here to the Liberal Party conference 18 months ago or 12 months ago, and he made all of the promises - the all signing, all dancing Malcolm Turnbull show. He was going to fix Western Australia, well he's done nothing. Even under the GST allocation, it's moved from 34 cents to 47 cents - still not enough. If Mr Turnbull wants to make constructive moves now to address the problems in Western Australia now, he'll have my cooperation.
JOURNALIST: You're quiet clearly at odds with Mr McGowan on this issue, aren't you?
SHORTEN: Not at all. Mark McGowan said -
JOURNALIST: Well you are -
SHORTEN: Sorry, if I can answer your question. You said we're at odds, I said not at all. The reason why I say not at all Shane, is what we're putting here is the proposition that Western Australia needs a fair share. That's what we're pushing for. Now, Mark's got a very clear set of views on the best way to do it. What we are trying to do is meet the debate in the middle. But we didn't get stuck in a traffic jam, Albo and I, behind a fleet of Liberal limousines coming here to sort this stuff out, did we? I mean really, the current Member for Stirling has been here for what, the best part of a decade and has done nothing on this issue. The fact that it takes Labor and Melita Markey to be here shows that only Labor gets the issues of Western Australia when it comes to the view from Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd has been at it again. He has written a letter to the Financial Review this morning saying that Labor's 2010 election campaign was the worst run in Labor history. What is your message to Kevin Rudd?
SHORTEN: I don't say this harshly, but I don't tend to read the letters page of the Fin Review so I will go and have a look at the letter.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you support a summer ban on live exports?
SHORTEN: Say the question again.
JOURNALIST: Do you support a summer ban on live exports?
SHORTEN: What Labor's said is we'll work with the Government because I think everyone was shocked and appalled at that footage. There's no way the sheep should've been transported in that condition. I think a lot of people just thought this is not on, it's wrong. Now, the Government says they want to correct this issue. Our spokesperson, Joel Fitzgibbon has said we'll work with the Government, but we've got certain conditions. One, that this whole issue of animal welfare has been going backwards in the last five years, so they need to step up and be serious about it. Two, we need to have an independent Inspector-General who can be available to deal with all these issues straightaway. Three, it's long overdue to look at how we can value add the meat industry in Australia, rather than to simply live export. I know that other politicians have looked at a summer ban. We'll work with the government to make sure this doesn't happen again. Animal welfare is not a second order issue and I think this government for five years has given the green light to this sort of negligent conduct and we will just see if the Government has got the wakeup call which Australians expect them to have heard.
JOURNALIST: Can I just get you on another issue, given the two tax-office whistle-blowers say staff are pressured to hit these revenue raising targets with this aggressive debt collection. Do you think that changes need to be made at the ATO?
SHORTEN: Yes, I do actually. I have got no doubt that the cutbacks at the ATO have undermined its ability to do its job properly. People who work at the ATO are good people but they are being asked to do more and more with less and less. I actually think what the whistle blowers have revealed is scandalous and we will be pursuing this in parliament with some degree of ferocity.
JOURNALIST: So that's more the issue though. In terms of like, the ATO obviously have some very strong powers. Do you think it has, sort of enough internal and external scrutiny on it?
SHORTEN: I think this is an issue which we're going investigate when we return to parliament. I think it is scandalous. I think the whistle blowers have drawn the nation's attention to something that a lot of businesses and people have been concerned about but now it looks like the people's genuine concerns have got some basis in fact.