SUNDAY, 24 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s roads upgrades for Melbourne’s south-east; Victorian infrastructure; NSW election; 2019 Federal election; One Nation preferences; social media
ANTHONY BYRNE, MEMBER FOR HOLT: I'm Anthony Byrne, the federal Member for Holt. You're actually in, for journalists who have travelled out here, the constituency of Holt, one of the fastest-growing areas in Australia. And that's what makes the announcements that you've read about and are about to hear about today, more significant. Given the significance of the announcements, I'm obviously accompanied by my federal colleagues, Mark Dreyfus and Julian Hill, and also by the candidates for Flinders, Josh, Peta Murphy from Dunkley, and Simon Curtis from La Trobe. The state Member for Cranbourne, Pauline Richards, and the member for Carrum, Sonya Kilkenny. But also importantly, the Premier, and most importantly, the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten.
The road that you see there has at the moment, 25,000 vehicles that go through it per day. In about another 10 years’ time, it will be 50,000 people. You're in the city of Casey. The City of Casey has a population at present of over 300,000 people - 349,000 people. It's almost as big as Canberra. By 2041, it's going to be 540,000 people. This area, ladies and gentlemen, is just transforming before your eyes. And what it needs - and it has with a State Labor Government that's invested significantly through Premier Andrews in this area, a State Government that is invested and invested in the future. What we do need is we need a Federal Government that's going to do the same thing, and that's why I'm so proud to have my friend and colleague and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten here, and I'll pass over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody. It's great to be here with Premier Andrews, shadow spokesperson Anthony Albanese and a range of our Labor candidates and members at both the State and Federal level.
This is an exciting announcement for Victoria, for Melbourne, in particular for the south-eastern suburbs. Melbourne is one of the fastest growing centres in Australia. I remember coming here as a university student, visiting friends, and this was basically power lines and paddocks and a few plant nurseries between Frankston and Dandenong. And beyond Dandenong, there was some great country towns like Pakenham and Berwick. But in the last 30 years, and in particular the last 10 years, this area has boomed. There are thousands of people flooding in and the roads need to keep up with the population growth. It's growing so fast here that even the GPS is not keeping up with the new roads and redirections. So what this area needs is a State and a Federal government focused on the people. Now they've got that at the state level with Premier Dan Andrews, on everything from level crossings, to his ambitious vision for suburban rail, to further investment in roads.
But unfortunately for the last six years, the fastest-growing areas of Australia have been neglected by a Coalition Liberal Government who really don't know where Melbourne is. Did you know in the last financial year, for every dollar spent by Canberra on roads and infrastructure around Australia, only seven cents has come to Victoria. That's not good enough when people in Victoria pay their taxes to Canberra.
So today, I'm really pleased to be announcing along with Premier Dan Andrews, that we are good to go to build a great pipeline of projects of roads in south-eastern Melbourne if we win the next election in six or seven or eight weeks. This is not a pipe dream, it's reality. The Victorian Government's done the hard work, they've got the plans. What they need is an ally in Canberra to invest in the fastest growing suburbs around Victoria, and indeed around Australia.
So there's a range of exciting projects which will see the roads uncluttered, de-congested. People move out here because they can afford the houses, but the road infrastructure really needs to keep up. That's what we're doing today. We've got a plan. It's ready to go at the state level, the work's been done. And if we can get elected in eight weeks’ time, then this plan becomes a reality. We've got the ability to raise the funds to spend the money and it'll be in our first budget.
I'd now like to hand over to Premier Dan Andrews and then Anthony Albanese.
I should just say though with regards to the New South Wales election, I extend my congratulations to Gladys Berejiklian on being re-elected Premier of New South Wales. I commiserate with Michael Daly and State Labor. They put up a big effort but they fell short. But my congratulations go to Premier Berejiklian.
Now over to Dan Andrews.
DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: Thanks very much, Bill and it's great to be out here in the south-eastern suburbs, able to celebrate a proper partnership to get things done.
Over these last four and a half years, we've been building in road and rail, hospitals and schools - how much more could we have achieved and how much more will we be able to achieve with a proper partner in Canberra? Someone who's prepared to invest side by side with us, to do that hard work, to make sure that we've got people home safer and sooner, more time with families, less time on terribly congested roads.
These outer south-eastern roads are ready to go. And I can announce today that the request for proposal - an important part of a tender process - will in fact begin today, with documentation going up online, and we'll be out talking to the market in the coming weeks and months, getting final prices and putting together the final package so that we can be under construction in 2020 and complete this entire package, a very big package of suburban roads entirely upgraded, completed by 2025.
The other point to make today as well is that Bill's commitment of $850 million comes also with a shared commitment between the Federal Labor Party and the State Labor Government to make sure that every time we spend taxpayers’ money building the infrastructure we need, we're investing in jobs and skills. One in 10 workers on these projects will be apprentices, trainees, cadets. And that's all about leaving a legacy so that right across their working life, they can continue to build the infrastructure that matters so very much.
So Bill, I'm so pleased to think that finally, obviously we have to work hard towards the election of a Labor Government in seven or eight weeks’ time but if that comes to pass, finally, the people of Victoria will have a strong and equal partner in getting the infrastructure we need built today to set us up for the future.
Can I also, just before I throw the Albo, can I also pass on my congratulations to Gladys. It's a great outcome for her and I wish her well. As a Victorian Premier, I don't wish her too well but still, it is a fantastic result for her and she's rightly proud. Albo.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, CITIES AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Thanks, mate.
This is what a true partnership between what we hope is a Shorten Labor Government and a State Government looks like. People sitting down, working through plans, working cooperatively. And when people look back at the years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison revolving door government, what they'll look at is six years of lost opportunity. Six years in which we didn't have investment here in Victoria.
We lifted investment last time I was the Infrastructure Minister from $87 dollars for every Victorian to over $200. And what we want to do is to lift Victoria up so it gets its share again. In our last budget, Victoria received 26 per cent of the national infrastructure budget. Last year, it received 7.7 per cent. This is in spite of the fact that Melbourne is Australia's fastest growing capital city and Victoria is Australia's fastest growing state.
What we need to do is invest in the growth regions. This very electorate of Holt is where the Growth Areas Alliance had its national conference I spoke at about 18 months ago, for that very reason. Just a few weeks ago, I, with the federal candidates and members who are here today, met with all of the councils in this region about their priorities. What we do today is deliver on these eight projects. $850 million dollars, including a new project for a park and ride facility. Including making sure that when they have made announcements, the current Government, such as Racecourse Road, they haven't done it properly. We'll have a full duplication in partnership with the level crossing removal that the Victorian Government are undertaking themselves.
The Victorian Government under Daniel Andrews has had to do all of the heavy lifting. Whether it be rail, whether it be road, whether it be park and ride facilities. A Shorten Labor Government will partner in the interests of Victorians, and in the interests of improving roads safety, and in the interests of boosting productivity and our national economy. At the same time as boosting jobs and making sure that we boost training and skills opportunities for people in this region.
SHORTEN: Thanks very much, Anthony. Are there any questions on this announcement or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you've given some interviews in recent days where you've spoken about what sort Prime Minister you'd hope to be. Is that clear indication that you believe that you will win the election?
SHORTEN: No. It's a clear indication I want people to vote for Labor at the next election.
I think in Australia at the moment, the most common sentiment is that people are sick of the instability and chaos of politics, they're sick of division. And I think they look at Labor federally and say, well, we mightn't agree with every policy you've got but we know you're united and we know you're stable. I think there's another equally important feeling out there in Australian families every evening, the sense that everything's going up except your wages. Only Labor's got a wages policy. Only Labor's going to be fair dinkum on climate change. Only Labor's helping make sure that women get an equal deal to men. Only Labor can say that we're the stable party of politics.
And in regard to today's announcement, we didn't get trapped behind a traffic jam of Liberal limousines coming out here to find the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. As Anthony said and as Daniel said, this is the fastest-growing part of Australia at the moment. But it hasn't been getting its fair share from Canberra. It's important that when we encourage people to move out to the outer suburbs, when we want them to have their dream of their own home, that we back it up with the taxes people spend to reinvest in their communities, on their roads out here, so they're not spending hours and hours every day, practically weeks every year, sitting in traffic trying to get home and get to work.
JOURNALIST: There is a $3 billion contingent liability in the budget at the moment for East-West Link. Would you -
SHORTEN: Well why don't I'll let Anthony answer this, he is clearly gunning to.
JOURNALIST: Are you going to use that money to fund any of this work or will that be spent on something else?
ALBANESE: Well this is just a farce. Find something in the budget papers, find something, a line item with $3 billion. What they did was they took $3 billion that had been allocated for the Melbourne Metro that was approved by Infrastructure Australia. They took that money and allocated it, for a project that is going ahead, and allocated it to a project that isn't going ahead. And then because it was a budget fix, they advanced $1.5 billion to the Victorian Government, that they then wouldn't allow them to spend for ages. They then approved the spending of that and then are trying to double count and say the $3 billion is still there. This is a joke. This was for a project that had a BCR, a benefit of 45 cents for every dollar. And as I've said to various Liberals in the Cabinet who have raised this issue in Canberra, if they give me $100, I'll give them $45 the next time I see them and we'll call it a deal. Because that's the proposal that they had that's been rejected, now twice, with the election and re-election of the Andrews Government.
This is a con for them to justify the fact that Victoria is being short changed and getting 7.7 per cent of the Federal infrastructure budget. It should be called out for what it is. If they've got money available, seriously in the budget, they should be allocating it in areas that are ready to go, like these projects.
JOURNALIST: Just to be clear, if you're the Federal Infrastructure Minister post the Federal election, what would you do with that money? Would you -
ALBANESE: It's not there. This is a fantasy, this is an absolute fantasy. What we are about is real projects with real dollars that create real jobs, that make a real difference to urban congestion. Not fantasies, not pretending something's there that that simply isn't. And the fact is that because of that decision, the Andrews Government has gone it alone on Melbourne Metro and has gone it alone on so many projects. This is just a con. And the fact is that my state of New South Wales has got pretty close to 50 per cent of the infrastructure budget. When I was the Minister, I cooperated with the Victorian Liberal Government, I cooperated with the Newman Government. What we have in Canberra now is a partisan government that has punished people for voting Labor.
SHORTEN: I'm might just say in the light, just momentarily as you collect your next questions and reflect on what Anthony said, and that goes to answering again, your earlier question, this is why Labor's competitive: we've got more unity, we've got more talent and we've got more vision, and that clearly is the case in infrastructure.
JOURNALIST: How does a result in New South Wales effect your campaign over the next 6 weeks?
SHORTEN: I think it'd be fair to say that there weren't many federal implications, but rarely is there an election that you can't learn something from. You know, I've been thinking about it overnight, and the rise of some of those smaller parties and independents show that no major party can take the voter for granted. And I actually think that the challenge, or the lesson, for me out of yesterday, is to keep putting forward a long term view of the nation, to keep putting forward vision. It's not enough to rely on the fact that you're not the other party, that you've got to offer a positive set of plans.
And when you look at the fact that we've got a bigger, better tax cuts for working people, that we're going to reverse the cuts to education, hospitals and health care, and of course, take real action on climate change, and get wages moving - that's the sort of vision people are looking for.
JOURNALIST: But after being buoyed from the Victorian results, is this pretty average result for Labor in New South Wales a wakeup call?
SHORTEN: Well again, I'd probably refer you to my previous answer. I think when you have a look at the debates they were having a New South Wales, it was about stadiums, it was about the treatment of the bush in New South Wales. But you know, no one should ever say there's nothing to learn.
And again, I would say that when you have a look at the vote that independents and third-parties got, not Labor, Liberal, Nats, then what we need to do is recognise people are hungry for vision. Politics as usual doesn't cut it. There's a lot of people who think that the system's broken or that the fix is in and that the vested interests run Australia.
Well we're coming with a different platform. We're coming with a platform which is about looking after working and middle class people. What frustrates Australians is we can't move forward on climate change and energy policy. What frustrates people is that everything's going up except their wages. What frustrates people is education cuts and health care cuts. That's what's frustrating people. We've got a vision for that and we look forward to the next seven weeks.
JOURNALIST: Bill, Michael Daley's comments about Asians very damaging there in the last week. Does that leave your party with a lasting problem in that state?
SHORTEN: No. I've spoken to Michael Daley. He's the first to acknowledge that his comments were wrong and I've certainly said that to him. I think he paid a price for that.
More generally, when it comes to tolerance and diversity, I think again, it just highlights the importance of the mainstream parties putting the extremists last. Again, I say to Mr Morrison, put the country first, put One Nation and like-minded parties last.
JOURNALIST: Do you regret not being on the ground more in New South Wales? Do you personally regret not being on the ground in -
SHORTEN: I was very flattered that they asked me to speak at their launch. At least there was one major party leader speaking. Again though, I think you'd fairly say that there were a lot of state issues and that is the consensus. But you know, I think every election is a wakeup call and you've got to make sure you're offering strong vision, strong policies. I think even our harshest critics wouldn't say that we've been a small target opposition though, would they?
JOURNALIST: But why didn't you campaign more with Michael Daley?
SHORTEN: Sorry, I don't accept your assumption. I was up there six times. But also, I'm not running for Premier of New South Wales, and if I was, you would have seen a lot more of me.
JOURNALIST: What do you think Mark Latham will bring to the New South Wales Parliament? Do you think he will be a valuable addition there?
SHORTEN: Well, he brings his Federal parliamentary pension, but, I don't know. I find that talking about Mark Latham takes us nowhere.
JOURNALIST: Would you like to see Michael Daley continue as the Labor Leader in New South Wales?
SHORTEN: That will be a matter for New South Wales. Listen, Michael came in, 80-plus days, steep climb, did his best but I think even as your question's acknowledging, he hit some rough road in the last 10 days.
JOURNALIST: Before we get back on to this project to the Premier, do you support the crackdown on the tech-giants, Bill? Or do you -
SHORTEN: Yeah, we've been certainly talking about that in the light of Christchurch, it's a shocking wake up call to say that our major social media platforms, the new media, can't regard themselves as beyond the arm of regulation. I mean if you in the old media, probably some of the things that they allow on their platforms, you'd be in court. You've got to think about what happens before you publish.
Social media is a fantastic development, the internet is fantastic - absolutely. But we can't allow it to become a swamp of hatred because - and it's no good for the people who run the swamp, create the swamp to then not take responsibility for what crawls out. What I'll do is I'll be meeting, like the current Prime Minister, with major companies, talking to them. But also what we want to do is, I think there's another issue which people have been raising with me in recent days, is how much tax do these companies pay? You know, if you run the local newsagency, you're a construction worker on this job, you've got to pay your tax. I was surprised, frankly, to find out that in 2017, Google had revenue of $1 billon in Australia, paid $37 million tax. So, I think there's a lot of conversations we've got to have with the big social media companies and I certainly look forward to embracing them with a constructive mindset.
JOURNALIST: The Treasurer knocked down a plan this week to increase taxes on the tech giants. I think it was a new digital tax that they were looking at. Is that something you'd be open to?
SHORTEN: We haven't seen what the Government's plans are. We're always open to being constructive.
JOURNALIST: Are fines or convictions the answer in your mind, or do we need to have a discussion first?
SHORTEN: Well I think it's all of the above, isn't it? And let's be clear, it's not just social media. I think existing media need to make sure that they're not encouraging hate speech. I think it's important that politicians, especially the mainstream politicians, work together to stop extremism.
This country can't be the great country it should be if we're picking on minorities, if we're dividing, if we're teaching people to be afraid. You know, we've got to stop the dog whistling on immigration, stop the dog whistling and stop the hate speech or the covert encouragement of it. This is not just a one size fits all solution. Yes, the Googles, the Facebooks, the social media new platforms need to be more accountable. But it's all of us, really. All of us have to lift our performance.
And that's why again, I'd encourage the Prime Minister to our follow our lead. He mightn't like Labor, and I don't like their policies, but I don't think that the Liberals are worse than One Nation or Fraser Anning. I'm not afraid to say that if Labor can't win the election, I'd rather have the Liberals than Pauline Hanson or One Nation. And our preferences are reflecting what I say. But Mr Morrison can't say that his preferences can do one thing and then pretend to be, you know, something else. His actions are what indicate the truth of his words.
JOURNALIST: Premier, real quick just back on this big spend. I know there's no final cost but how will we be paying our share?
ANDREWS: There'll be a budget allocation. There already has been and with additional support from a Shorten Labor Government that will mean that some of that funding is freed up to allocate to other projects. Ultimately, a proper partnership, a shared effort, 50:50 on these important projects means we can get them done quicker, we can deliver them in full, create jobs along the way, and that's the way that it should be.
Bill's running on the notion of a fair go, and when it comes to infrastructure funding, Victorians have not been getting a fair go. That's why today's promise is so very important and welcomed wholeheartedly. Not just by me and my team, but I think from families right across the south-eastern suburbs who want to get home sooner and safer, they want to spend time with their kids, not time stuck on terribly congested roads.
The Prime Minister doesn't seem to understand that. Bill Shorten as the alternative Prime Minister, he most certainly does.
JOURNALIST: I'm just making sure that it would come out of the budget, not be fronted up by a private company and then we've got to pay for it 10 years -
ANDREWS: No, no. These are all important road upgrades and cash grants from a future Commonwealth Government will help support building them.
Very good. Thanks very much.