TUESDAY, 22 JANUARY 2019
SUBJECT/S: Labor's $800 million commitment to build the Rockhampton Ring Road; Coal fired power stations; Darling river fish kill; Coalition division and chaos
RUSSELL ROBERTSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: I want to thank the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and the shadows for coming out with the local members Barry O'Rouke and Britney Lauga. They're helping me here today back in the Rocky Ring Road. The project that will not only Rockhampton safer but more liveable. It takes trucks off the road. This is a project started by Labor and it's going to be finished by Labor. We've seen the LNP only commit to this after they were cornered by the Labor Party to make sure they made Rockhampton a more liveable city. Only Labor can generate safe and secure jobs. I’m going to ask Bill Shorten to have a few words, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, that was Russell Robertson, Labor's candidate for Capricornia. Of course we're here also with Zac Beers, Labor's candidate for Flynn, and we've got Anthony Albanese and Brendan O'Connor and Murray Watt here, and we are always, always happy federally to do a press conference with Queensland's fantastic Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk.
I'm pleased this afternoon to confirm federal Labor's commitment to $800 million to finally build the Rockhampton Ring Road. This will generate 780 direct jobs for locals. It'll ease congestion and it'll improve Rockhampton's economic fortunes, and it'll generate jobs locally. Labor are the architects of the Rockhampton Ring Road project. It was Anthony Albanese, when we were last in government, who commissioned the $10 million business case that finally got the ball rolling. And today I'm happy to close that circle and say that a Shorten Labor Government will invest $800 million into the Rockhampton Ring Road. Because we want jobs, jobs, jobs for Queenslanders. And we want to secure, good jobs for local businesses, small businesses in Rockhampton and the surrounding district.
It's now my privilege to pass over to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and then Anthony Albanese, our Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, he's going to talk about disturbing developments and revelations that the Coalition Government in Canberra are proposing a cut of $700 million for the Bruce Highway construction funds.
ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Thanks Bill and it's lovely to join Bill here in Rockhampton. And of course, you know, Bill is a great friend to Queensland and what I like to see is when Bill comes to Queensland, he makes commitments that are fundamentally about long term secure jobs. Over 700 jobs with the Rocky Ring Road. And today I'm pleased to announce that my Government will invest $200 million to make sure that this becomes a reality. Early construction will be able to commence in 2021. All the detailed planning will happen. And this will be what the Rockhampton residents have been asking for. We know how important the Bruce Highway is. It is the artery of Queensland. It is the connectivity of the road that connects all of our regional cities up and down our coast. It is absolutely vital. And I really want to thank Bill for coming along today. Someone who I can work with. Someone who wants to deliver for Queensland. Someone who I know will also put Queensland first, just as much as I do and my local members do. This is about partnership and working together, and it is great to see now that we are getting the infrastructure money that we need from Bill, if Bill is elected as Prime Minister at the next election.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE: Thanks very much. It is great to be here with Bill Shorten, the Labor leader, and Annastacia, the Queensland Premier, and our local candidates Russell and Zac, here today for this fantastic announcement. It symbolises if anything, what's on the Bill Bus: jobs, not cuts. That's what Labor stands for. And today we've made this $800 million commitment from Federal Labor and a $200 million commitment from the Queensland Labor Government for the Rockhampton Ring Road, which arose out of the study that was commissioned when we were in government.
What we know from the last fortnight is that we've had answers from Senate Estimates showing that even though the Government committed $3.5 billion for the Bruce Highway in Budget announcements, in their budget nights, the actual figures have been reduced to $2.8 billion over the next three financial years. A $700 million cut. Not in difference from what Labor would have done, but on their own commitments that they've made on budget nights. It's a part of the $5 billion of cuts that they've made for major projects, the Black Spots Program, heavy vehicle safety program, rail projects right around the country.
This is a government that is simply incompetent and can't even deliver what itself says it would do on budget night. So one of the things that people should be wary of if Scott Morrison gets to budget on April the 2nd, is to be wary because if you look at their record, they haven't been able to deliver on what they said they would do. And what that means quite simply, is less jobs created here in Queensland, less fixing of the Bruce Highway. When you look at when we were last in government, we commenced construction on the Mackay Ring Road, the Cairns Southern Approaches, Cooroy to Curra, the work around Gladstone we did. All of this work right up and down the Bruce Highway. And I look forward, as a Minister in a Bill Shorten Labor Government, to working with the Queensland Labor Government on delivering yet again.
SHORTEN: Thanks Anthony and Premier and Robbo, are there questions?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin today, Russell Robertson was quoted saying he would support building more thermal coal fired power plants. Do you support the same thing? Do you guys see eye to eye?
SHORTEN: Well there's two issues there. First of all let's talk about my candidate Russell Robertson. He's a coal miner, he's a third generation coal miner. His father was a coal miner. His grandfather was a coal miner. Russell has worked in just about every town right across the Capricornia electorate. The Capricornia electorate is one 91,000 square kilometres. He's a coal miner. This is one thing which the Coalition get confused when they talk about mining. Gina Rinehart is a mine owner, BHP are mine owners. Russell Robertson is actually a miner, and we are the party of working people. And now let me talk about coal. Coal will have a future in Australia. It must. And anyone who says there's no future for coal is kidding themselves and kidding the Australian people. I want to put on the record that the resources is not just coal but indeed LNG, and hard rock, metalliferous mining, has been part of what good news there is in the Australian economy at the moment with their exports, particularly into North Asia.
So we are going to keep exporting coal - that's just a fact - and no matter of people saying otherwise is going to change that. We're still going to use coal in our energy mix in Australia as well. As for individual mines, well it's got to stack up. It's got to stack up legally, it's got to stack up environmentally, it's got to stack up commercially. I'm not in the business of picking winners in the coal industry. But what I won't do is be deterred from investing in renewable energy as well.
Climate change is real, the threat to the reef is real. And a Labor government I lead is going to modernise our economy, diversify our economy, and we're heading to 50 per cent renewables under a government that I lead by 2030.
Any other questions?
JOURNALIST: David Littleproud's announced that an independent panel will assess the Darling River fish kill. Are you happy with this announcement? What do you make of it?
SHORTEN: The Government's announced to get an independent set of scientists to tell us what's happening with the terrible fish kills in New South Wales. That's a good idea. We thought of it already. I wrote to the Prime Minister two weeks ago. They weren't interested then. We publicly engaged with the Australian Academy of Science, the Government again said they weren't interested. But they finally got the memo.
Do you know, parliament's sitting on February the 12th. It's a national disgrace that it's only sitting for 10 days before the next election. But one of the items which the parliament must consider is an explanation to the Australian people, why we're seeing a million fish deaths in our biggest river system. I've asked the Australian Academy of Scientists because the Government wouldn't do their day job, which is govern Australia. I asked our experts, give me the best and smartest people, whatever you report to us we will make public in the Parliament.
I'm happy for the Government to be part of our process, because people deserve the facts. The death of fish is not a Liberal issue or a Labor issue, it's a national issue, and I want to get the smartest people in the country, and the Government shouldn't be afraid of science, they should embrace science.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten do you commit to the same Cook anniversary funding that the Government has confirmed this morning in the Prime Minister's visit to Cooktown, if you're in government after May?
SHORTEN: I came to Queensland to announce tens of thousands of jobs, a brand new industry, the hydrogen industry. Mr Morrison has come to Queensland to get his historical facts wrong. Captain Cook landed on the East Coast. I get that, we acknowledge that. Cooktown and 1770 and Agnes Water are having local commemorations of it.
But I tell you what, I've travelled all over Queensland in the nearly six years I've been Opposition Leader. I've held many town hall meetings. I've literally spoken to tens of thousands of Queenslanders. No one has told me they want a replica boat to cruise around Australia. What they've told me is they want better hospitals and better schools. They want want wages to start moving again. They want to reform labour hire. They want to make sure that we have good infrastructure along the Bruce Highway.
Listen, I'm not going to get caught in some sort of bizarre Captain Cook fetish which Mr Morrison wants me to engage in. Yes, Captain Cook was an English navigator, a very notable navigator and he landed on the East Coast. For the record, he circumnavigated New Zealand, not Australia. That's fine, that's our history.
But I'm not obsessed about our history. I'm obsessed about our future. I want to make sure that if we've got scarce taxpayer dollars, I make sure that your parents can get into aged care if they need it, that Australian kids get a quality education and get an apprenticeship. I want to make sure that you can drive up and down the Bruce Highway safely. That is why, I have to say, with no small amount of pride, that Russell Robertson is our flag bearer candidate here, working with a remarkable State Government.
The Labor Party is the party of Capricornia and Rockhampton. Our announcement today of $800 million comes on top of our announcement of $176 million for the Rookwood Weir. It comes on top of our announcement to build a dual laneway, start the work of a dual laneway between Rockhampton and Yeppoon. It comes on top of our $25 million commitment to build a levee so that parts of Rockhampton don't get the dreadful inundation they had previously. It comes on top of our announcement of $7.2 million for a new cardiac unit at the Rockhampton Hospital. I'm more obsessed about sick people in Rockhampton getting the cardiac health they need, rather than a boat trip around Australia. But that's Mr Morrison's priorities and I'm not buying into it.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten one other, your colleague Anthony Albanese just referred to if the Government makes the 2 April Budget. Do you seriously think there is any doubt that the Government would survive to April 2nd as Mr Albanese seems to, and if so, what's going to happen in the one and a half sitting weeks of Parliament we do have between now and then?
SHORTEN: Tim, if every other Australian did as little work as the Morrison Government, they'd lose their job. It is a national disgrace that this government is only sitting for a total of 10 days before the election. Parliament is a fundamental part of the Australian democracy. A government who can't govern Parliament is not in government.
The fact that this government is trying to make Parliament irrelevant shows that they're not wanting to face accountability. It shows that they've run out of puff as a government. We don't even know who's going to turn up in the Liberal Party at the next parliamentary sitting. They're moving on, they're working out their post parliamentary plans.
This is a government unstable, divided, and focused on themselves. But I want to reassure Australians that whenever this election is held, be it in March, be it in April, or be it by May the 18th, the Labor Party's ready. We've worked for six years, we're stable, we're united, we're in touch with the issues the people want. And we're going to build the Rockhampton Ring Road which has been dragged on far too long.