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Transcript - 24673

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: 05/08/2015

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 24673

Subject(s): Major construction begins on Torrens to Torrens project

Location: Adelaide

PREMIER WEATHERILL:

It’s great to be here to welcome the Prime Minister and the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure to what is the beginning of the major construction phase of the Torrens to Torrens project.

Remember this is a project which forms part of the 10 year ambition to build the whole North-South Road Corridor. Remember early in the term of the election of Prime Minister Abbott we had a discussion about which project we should be pursuing in relation to the North-South Corridor.

We had ambitions to pursue this Torrens to Torrens section, the Prime Minister had promised to pursue the Darlington section. And we had a discussion and reached an agreement to actually pursue both projects and beyond that the Prime Minister set out an ambition for a 10 year ambition to complete the whole of the North-South Road Corridor.

We have now provided plans to the Commonwealth and it now becomes a question of reaching agreement about how we stage the rest of this North-South Road Corridor.

It’s an incredibly important corridor for South Australia. It’s an important road freight network. It goes into the incredibly important agricultural and food producing lands in the Barossa Valley and surrounding areas and takes goods and produce directly to the Port of Adelaide. It also frees up some important east-west connections, as traffic moves from the western suburbs into the city across this corridor, will improve the way in which we do that.

This project is also a great project in the medium-term for jobs – 90 per cent of all of the labour hours on this project will go to local South Australians, which is an incredibly important contribution to grappling with the challenges we face in our economy in transition.

So, I’d like now to introduce the Prime Minister for him to say and few words and then we’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

It’s good to be here with the Premier, it’s good to be here with the Commonwealth Roads Minister, with the State Roads Minister, to talk about this very important project for the future of South Australia.

Yesterday I made a very important national announcement about a fleet build centred here in Adelaide. This morning I was at the Adelaide produce markets to sign an MOU with the largest produce market in China, taking advantage of our Free Trade Agreement.

Now I’m here with the Premier talking about this definite ambition of ours to finish the North-South Road Corridor to expressway standard by 2023. And what is common to all of these is the commitment to growth and jobs. Ships mean growth and jobs, free trade means growth and jobs and roads mean growth and jobs.

Growth and jobs are at the heart of what this national Government is doing in everything – growth and jobs is at the heart of everything that we do.

Yes, as the Premier has pointed out, this is the start of major construction. There’s the Darlington project where major construction will start in a few months. There's this project where major construction starts in the next few days. There are other projects that we are working on together and which I hope we can make announcements about in coming weeks.

But there is an absolute determination on the part of the Commonwealth and the State to work together on projects which are of state and national significance. And plainly, if we want to do the right thing by jobs and growth here in South Australia, the most important infrastructure project is getting the North-South Road Corridor up to express standard by 2023.

So, I am very pleased to be here. I want to thank the Premier for the work we have been able to do together in recent times on roads, but also on other big issues like reform of the federation. I think the public expect their leaders at local, state and national level, at all levels of government, the public expect leaders to work together for their benefit and that is exactly what we are doing today. We are working together at state and national level for the benefit of the people of South Australia and the people of Australia.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, has the Premier been instrumental in either changing your views or cementing your views on the frigate and ship construction and South Road? Has he been a real trailblazer in this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as the Premier has just been good enough to point out, I have been interested in the North-South Road Corridor for a long time and back in late 2013 we went to an election promising to build the Darlington project, the South Australia government said our number one priority is the Torrens project and we came together and decided that we’d do both. Because if we're going to get this artery up to expressway standard within a decade, obviously we need to get cracking with as many projects as we can.

So, I don't think it was so much a question of the Premier changing my mind or me changing the Premier's mind, I think it was more a question of us both coming together on a project and projects that made sense for all of us.

QUESTION:

But this historic trip that you have made to Adelaide, in terms of the announcements you have made, you have hardly done Steven Marshall any favours, have you? I don't think I have seen you with him at all.

PRIME MINISTER:

I was with Steven at lunch on Monday and was very pleased to catch up with him.

QUESTION:

But no picture opportunities, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Please, it is in everyone's interests that our country and this State move forward. And this is not a question of supporting one or another individual. This is a question of supporting what is in the best interests of the State and the country and it's in the best interests of the State and the country that the South Australian economy be as strong as possible. It's in the best interest of the State and the country that we get cracking with major shipbuilding, which has been neglected in terms of decision making for too long. So, that is what we are doing – we are getting on with doing the right thing by South Australia and by our country.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, of the projects that the state government has put before you about the North-South Corridor – which, in particular, appeals to you and which might we see on the table sooner rather than later?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, without pre-empting decisions that have yet to be finalised, obviously the northern connector is a very prospective project. It is largely a greenfield project and if we can get that funded quickly, work can start very quickly and that will certainly help to improve the connectivity between the extraordinarily rich farming and agricultural region of the Barossa Valley and the port and the airport. So, we've got a number of projects that we are talking about, but that is probably the most immediately prospective.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, this week the US has announced plans to cut emissions from coal-fired power stations. When will Australia be announcing its post-2020 target and will our ambition meet that of the US?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you will find that we have a target which is both strong and achievable. All of us want to do the right thing by the environment. All of us accept that climate change is a very serious issue, that mankind does make a contribution and that we need to take strong and effective action against it. I welcome President Obama's announcement and the kind of direct action measures that we have seen from President Obama in recent times very much accord with the kind of direct action measures that this Government is putting in place. And I should stress that we are already well and truly on track to achieve and possibly even to exceed our 2020 target which is to reduce emission by 13 per cent on 2005 levels.

QUESTION:

What about post-2020, Prime Minister? When will we be setting our emissions reduction targets for post-2020?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, you’ll be seeing those targets very soon.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, a twofold South Australia question – how would you characterise the state of the South Australian economy at present? How would you characterise the state of your government's relations with the South Australian Labor government?

PRIME MINISTER:

The South Australian economy has fundamental strengths. I know that there have been some disappointments lately with the eventual closure of the motor manufacturing industry here in South Australia and with the Olympic Dam expansion not going ahead on the kind of scale that was originally envisaged. So, there have been some disappointments, but I don't think anyone should underestimate the fundamental strength of the South Australian economy. There are great strengths in manufacturing, there are great strengths in emerging sectors like health and in medical research and, of course, there are the traditional strengths in agriculture.

I was at the produce markets and our horticultural exports, many of them from South Australia to China, have increased sixfold in just three years. We already export something like $10 billion a year in food to China as part of our $150 billion two-way trade and there are almost limitless possibilities for Australia and for South Australia, given the hundreds of millions of newly empowered consumers in China. So don't underestimate the great strengths of the South Australian economy and our commitment to spend $40 billion on surface naval shipbuilding, largely here in South Australia, is a sign of the national Government's confidence in the manufacturing capability of this state.

Now, as for the relationship with the South Australian government, obviously from time to time we will have our issues because it’s just in the nature of Commonwealth and state governments that things will occasionally be argued out. But the important thing is that we can come to sensible decisions for the benefit of states and for the benefit of our country. I've got to say that I think I have a constructive relationship with all of the state premiers, including the Labor state premiers, and I’m particularly grateful to Premier Weatherill for the constructive approach that he has taken on a range of subjects, not just road building here in South Australia, but on reform of the federation. His speech to the National Press Club a few weeks ago was really the beginning of a constructive dialogue with the various premiers about how we can make the federation work better in the months and years ahead. So, look, it's a good relationship and I want to build on it.

QUESTION:

Just on the frigates, is the Government definitely committed to building eight?

PRIME MINISTER:

The white paper will talk about the numbers, but I think you can be confident that, yes, it will be at least that figure.

QUESTION:

Tony Burke went very hard on Bronwyn Bishop. Given the revelations about his entitlements, should he now also be resigning?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important thing is that everyone should operate within the rules. What's even more important is that we change the rules to make sure that what is within the rules is also within community expectations. So, that’s really what I’m focused on. I’m focused on trying to ensure that within a few months we have a new system – a new system that engenders public confidence that Members of Parliament are doing what they need to do but they're doing it in a reasonable, prudent and, wherever possible, frugal way.

QUESTION:

What does the Competitive Evaluation Process mean for ASC and the frigates? Why not just give the project to them?

PRIME MINISTER:

There has to be a Competitive Evaluation Process because, obviously, there are a number of different designs which we need to choose amongst in order to get the best possible ship at the best possible price. But, plainly, the infrastructure for major naval shipbuilding already exists here in Australia. Thanks to decisions which the South Australian government has made over the years at Techport, we’ve got an absolutely world-class facility. That’s why major naval shipbuilding should absolutely be focused here in Adelaide, but we have to make decisions about the design. We want to make those decisions as quickly as possible so that the Offshore Patrol Vessels, or Corvettes, get built from 2018 and the frigates get built from 2020, but there has to be a proper process for that to happen.

Now, look, on particular Members of Parliament and whether particular spending was good, bad or indifferent, I just want to say the important thing is to get the rules right. Plainly, some people in the past have made spending decisions, have made travel decisions which may well have been inside the rules but were plainly outside public expectation. I want to get the rules right. I really do want to ensure that the latest controversies are indeed the last controversies. I want the public to have absolute confidence that it's a transparent, accountable, workable and, above all else, independent system so that these sort of issues are, as far as is humanly possible, a thing of the past.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 24673