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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24827

Joint Doorstop Interview, Adelaide

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/09/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24827

Subject(s): Delivering the Northern Connector

ASSISTANT INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER:

Firstly can I welcome the Prime Minister to Adelaide this morning in making this extraordinarily good announcement for South Australia along with the Premier and Minister Mullighan who we’ve worked with very well over the last few months to identify the required amount of funding to deliver what is a game changing project for South Australia. This is a huge project, it’s a lot of jobs and it comes on top of two other deals that we’ve done with this South Australian Government to deliver upgrades on South Road.

The relationship between this Government – the Abbott Government – and the Weatherill Government is strong and it’s delivering for South Australians and it’s a real pleasure to have the PM here again this morning, a Prime Minister focused on South Australia, on jobs in the shipbuilding industry, jobs in infrastructure, creating a better environment so we can grow faster, creating more jobs for a better future for everyone in this state and across the country.

I might ask Stephen Mullighan to say a couple of words.

MINISTER MULLIGHAN:

Thank you, Jamie. This is a great project for South Australia. This will be supporting nearly 500 people each year during construction over nearly four years of construction and when you add that together with the two South Road projects that Jamie and I have already been speaking about in the past 12 months will see 1,500 jobs here in South Australia supported in these construction activities each year. And then, of course, there’s the long-term economic benefits. This Northern Connector project will avoid six major intersections on Port Wakefield Road and it will mean that it’s much easier for all of that traffic and all of that freight coming down what would have otherwise been Port Wakefield Road either to get into the city or to get out to Outer Harbor and off to our export markets overseas.

I’m very pleased to have been working hard on this with Jamie Briggs over the past few months. The Premier has certainly been working very closely with the Prime Minister for over a year now. This was one of the things that we really wanted to see happen in the lead up to the last state election and both the Premier and I are very pleased that this project will now be delivered in the next four years – a huge boost to the South Australian economy both during construction and into the future as well.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks, Stephen. Jay?

PREMIER WEATHERILL:

Thank you, Jamie and Stephen, and welcome to the Prime Minister to South Australia.

This is a project that within a week of the closure of Holden, we advocated directly to the federal Government, to the Prime Minister and to the federal Treasurer. The reason we so strongly advocated for this project is that it ticks a number of important boxes for South Australia. We have a fantastic opportunity with our premium food grown in a clean environment to actually export it to the world, but to do that effectively and efficiently, you need first-class freight networks. This completes an important part of that network from the northern suburbs through to our port and also our airports. It's an incredibly important element in the way in which we move goods and services around our city and our state, but it does something else very important. This road runs through the very suburbs that are going to be most directly affected by the closure of Holden. This means that 500 jobs for each of the next four years will be created in the very suburbs that are crying out for employment in South Australia.

We're going to make a special effort to ensure that locals get these jobs. That means upskilling locals to get the work which is going to be available through this Northern Connector. So, in this very important way, this project is making an immediate contribution to dealing with the adjustments being made as a consequence of the loss of Holden, but also in the long-term, creating prosperity through investment for the future of our state.

It does something else very important as well. It also provides the opportunity for some exciting urban developments around the saltpan area. This Northern Connector provides a boundary on the saltpans and it also provides a first-class road connection to the northern suburbs. What we've seen with all of our road investments is whenever you put in a first-class piece of transport infrastructure you see urban development grow at the end of it. That's been the experience everywhere across Australia, it's certainly been our experience here in South Australia, and it will happen again here with this project.

So, immediate benefits to assist in the adjustment for those workers losing their jobs as a consequence of the shake-out in the manufacturing industry, but also long-term benefits for future prosperity of our state and our nation. It's my great pleasure to invite the Prime Minister to say a few words.

PRIME MINISTER:

It is really good to be here with Premier Weatherill, with Minister Stephen Mullighan, with our Roads Minister, Jamie Briggs, on what is a great day for a great state with a great future.

This is a really, really important road project. It's the third major project as part of our commitment to the North South Road upgrade within a decade. It's a sign of the Commonwealth Government's commitment to South Australia. Obviously, it's a sign of the very strong partnership which I have with Premier Weatherill and which Minister Briggs has with Minister Mullighan, but that’s what a good Commonwealth government does. A good Commonwealth government works constructively with strong state governments to ensure that we get things done for the people of Australia and the people of our states.

As you know, I'm in Adelaide quite often. I was in Adelaide a few weeks ago to make a very, very significant commitment not just to shipbuilding but to fleet building focused here in South Australia. That was a $40 billion commitment – obviously a $40 billion commitment stretching out over many years. This is an $800 million commitment on top of well over a billion that the Commonwealth has earlier committed to the Torrens upgrade, the Darlington upgrade. This money will be spent over the next few years to create almost 500 jobs, to create a 15-kilometre stretch of first-class expressway to benefit 50,000 motorists every day who use this road.

Again, it is a sign of this Government's absolute commitment to getting on with the job, our absolute commitment to more jobs, higher economic growth, to safer and stronger communities and the best way to get more jobs and higher economic growth is to invest in roads, to get your taxes down, to get your trade freed up and that's exactly what this Government is doing every day.

So, again, I thank Jamie Briggs who has been extraordinarily committed to this project, who's been absolutely diligent in working with his South Australian counterpart to make this happen, and I thank Premier Weatherill who has been a very good and strong partner to the Commonwealth Government on this particular matter.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, earlier this year, you said that the public should hire or fire Prime Ministers…

PRIME MINISTER:

We'll take some questions on that subject, but first of all – we're here today, a $1 billion announcement to benefit the people of South Australia. I'm here with the Premier of South Australia. I do think we'll take some questions about the Northern Connector and then if we must we'll have one or two questions on other subjects.

QUESTION:

Are you worried about South Australian seats at an election and that's why you're back here again to announce such a big project?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I'm worried about being the best possible Prime Minister and the best possible Prime Minister is one that works with the state premiers to deliver more jobs, higher growth and more infrastructure for the states. This is exactly what we've done today. Worked with the state government to produce a $1 billion investment in better roads here in Adelaide, which will benefit the people of Adelaide and ultimately everyone here in Australia, because if we have more roads we'll have a stronger economy, with more jobs, and when the economy of Adelaide benefits, the economy of Australia benefits. So, I'm really pleased to be part of this announcement today.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, your minister has previously said that this wouldn’t happen without some sort of private sector capital going into it. You have signed this deal without that and a very generous funding arrangement – 80-20 in the Commonwealth’s favour. What's changed?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I know that South Australia needs a boost. I know that. We all know that. We all know that unemployment in South Australia is higher than it should be. We all know that some iconic manufacturing businesses in South Australia will be closing down in the next few years. It's important that both the Commonwealth and the state government invest in the future of this state. This state has so much going for it. It really does have so much going for it but what it needs right now is a sign that the whole country believes in this state and its future and its prospects and that's what I am doing today. I am saying that the national government is prepared to support South Australia, through a couple of difficult years, to the opportunity which I believe will open up for this state in the years to come.

QUESTION:

For the prospect of a heavy vehicle charge coming in to help fund this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, this is entirely a matter for the state government. I mean, what the state government decides it might want to do down the track, what its attitude is to heavy vehicle charging, to network charging, to tolling, this is entirely a matter for state governments. What I want to do is work with state governments to make sure that we build the roads that we need. The great anything about a dollar spent on infrastructure is that that's a dollar which has an impact for decades. I mean social spending is very important, but in the end, social spending tends to be short-term spending – infrastructure spending is long-term spending. Infrastructure spending is a vote of confidence in the future and that's exactly what we're doing here today.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you have said that your focus is on governing, jobs, and growth, clearly this morning with talks of a leadership spill some of your ministers don’t have that focus. Will there be repercussions for that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not going to get caught up in Canberra gossip. I'm not going to play Canberra games. I know that sometimes, the media particularly like to play the Canberra game but I'm just not going to get involved in it, because today, we have a very important announcement. Yesterday, I was in Perth, where Premier Barnett and I opened part of the Gateway Project ahead of schedule and under budget. That means that more money can be invested in further road-building in Western Australia. The day before that, I was making a commitment to the Armadale Road in Perth. Every day, as far as I'm concerned, is a day to get on with doing the right thing by the people of Australia, doing the right thing by Australia and if we do the right thing here in Australia, Australia can do the right thing by the world as you saw last week.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, if those that are briefing against you do continue and drive towards a leadership challenge, are you better off just calling an election?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, my job is to do what the public elected me to do two years ago, and that is to govern effectively every day for three years. And then submit myself to the judgment of the people. But I expect that the Government will go to the middle of next year and maybe a bit beyond, because that's what we were elected to do three years ago. Every day we're focused on getting taxes down, getting the roads of the future built, freeing up our trade, because that's what you need for more jobs, higher growth and ultimately for a safer community.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, why do you think you've been unable to stop leadership speculation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, I'm just not going to chase all of these rabbits down all of the burrows that you are inviting me to go down. I'm just not going to play the Canberra games. Other people can play Canberra games. The public don't like this insider gossip. The public don't like the Canberra games, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm never going to play them.

QUESTION:

Standing next to you – the Premier – ran a pretty vocal campaign against you over the past 12 to 18 months. Has that worked? You're coming here with a billion dollars for him.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what I think both of us appreciate is that we can achieve a lot more for our state and for our country by working together than by shouting at each other. And look, politicians can spend a whole lot of time engaged in argy bargy, but in the end, as John Howard used to say, the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us. Let's find some common ground, let's work together and here in South Australia, both of us, indeed every South Australian – Liberal, Labor, whatever – every South Australian wants to see the North South Road Corridor completed. Every South Australian wants to see the ship-building industry flourish and that's exactly what's going to happen because of the partnership between this State Government and this Commonwealth Government.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, you have an idea of who’s briefing against you. You say you don’t want to play the Canberra games – in order to become Prime Minister you had to play the Canberra games. Won't you play the game to remain Prime Minister? If you know those who are briefing against you, you need to take action against them, don't you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Michael, I appreciate your efforts to get me to play the Canberra game, but if you don't mind, I'm going to resist them. We are standing here in the Adelaide Traffic Management Centre. Everyone in this building is doing his or her best to ensure that every day, people's lives are better.

QUESTION:

You're standing next to a Premier who said that he was going to come after you. He was going to come after Christopher Pyne, he was going to come after Jamie Briggs, he was going to come after someone else – basically every Liberal MP he could think of – he was going to come after them at the next election. It's not just in Canberra you have got people coming at you. You have got state premiers coming at you. Don't you have to take some decisive action to shore up your leadership?

PRIME MINISTER:

The decisive action that I'm taking every day is doing things like committing to build the Northern Connector, committing to things like the Perth Gateway and the Armadale Road. Committing to things like a fleet build centred here on Adelaide. I am getting on with decisive Government. I'm not going to play the Canberra game. I'm just not. As I was trying to say, Michael, before you had your most recent question – every day in this building, there are men and women who are making people's lives better in a whole lot of practical ways. And our job, the Premier's job, my job, is to make it easier for them by giving them the better roads that they need so that their traffic management will be more effective and that the people of Adelaide will be able to go about their business better and the Adelaide economy and the Australian economy will be improved for the benefit of everyone. Doing the right thing by South Australia, doing the right thing by Australia so that we can do the right thing by the wider world. That's my job, that's Jay's job, that's Briggsy's job, that's Stephen Mullighan's job and we're getting on with it. We really are and in terms of coming after people – well, as far as I'm concerned, Jay and I have come after each other so we can make sensible joint decisions on important subjects that matter to the people of South Australia and the people of Australia and today you see the evidence.

So, thank you so much.

[ends]

Transcript - 24827