6PR Mornings — Interview with Gary Adshead

Interview

DCI012/2016

04 November 2016

Subjects: Forrestfield Airport Link; road safety; Roe 8 extension

Gary Adshead: Now, in town today, we've had the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, he's been here. There was a press announcement going on. I think it's happening very soon, or it's just happened, I should say, and that's in relation to the Forrestfield Airport Link, but I know that there's a few other things going on. Darren Chester, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, joins me on the line. Thanks very much for your time, Minister.

Darren Chester: Oh, g'day Gary, thanks for your time as well.

Gary Adshead: Welcome to Perth. Now, first of all, the Forrestfield Airport Link. Obviously that's a big deal for it. Are you satisfied that it's all correct in terms of that's where we needed a rail link to the airport as a corridor?

Darren Chester: Well, yes I am Gary, and thanks for the welcome to your great city.

I've actually just come back from the Wheatbelt as well, so I've had a busy morning. And I'm about to catch up with the Premier for the turning of the first sod for the Forrestfield Airport Link, which I think is a great project, and it's a good example of where State Governments and Federal Governments when they work together can build the infrastructure that a growing city needs. Part of the challenge we had in our growing urban areas is reducing congestion, and we often talk about good infrastructure and the way that it can change people's lives by getting people to and from work more [indistinct], but it also does save people's lives by reducing the opportunity for accidents on our roads, and we're going to a difficult stage in Australia at the moment where road trauma has increased in the last couple of years, and that's obviously a very pressing concern for me, as it is I'm sure for the general community.

Gary Adshead: What do they tell you about there in the Wheatbelt where they've had a significant number of deaths this year?

Darren Chester: Well, it was a real positive [indistinct]. We went to Kulin (*) District High School, where the kids at the high school and at the primary school are really taking on the message about the fact that this year in the Wheatbelt there's been 25 fatalities. It's up from 14 last year. That's a terrible result for the community. And they've been taking on the message through making their own road safety videos, they're doing artwork, explain the road safety message, they're actually meeting with local police. They've taken on the RAC program too, The Elephant in the Wheatbelt, and raising awareness and having that conversation about how we all need to take responsibility for our behaviour on the road.

I'm not blaming drivers alone—I think governments have a key role to play in providing a safe road environment as well, but it's all about safety on the roads and safer drivers and safer vehicles. And what we're seeing in Australia in the last two years, particularly here in Western Australia, is an increase in road trauma, which is very disturbing after several decades of improvement. So it's not acceptable. We need to find ways as a community to work with governments to make sure we put some downward pressure on that because too many people are being killed and injured on our roads.

Gary Adshead: And one of the most controversial pieces of road infrastructure that's still being talked about and will be up until the next election here in WA is Roe 8 and the extension. I mean, we know that the contracts have been signed for the first stage of Roe 8. Are you satisfied that that's all that's happened at this stage, that there's been a commitment to that first part of this?

Darren Chester: Well I am satisfied with that, and I'll be meeting with the Premier today, and also the Roads Minister, and having some conversations about that as well. I mean, part of the challenge, again, is working with two levels of government in a constructive way to make sure we're putting forward projects which deliver long-term benefits to the community, and I think this project is one of them. A growing city like Perth needs to be well connected and needs to have a good flow of both road transport and rail to take some of that pressure off people and make it an even more liveable city than it already is. So it's a great city and it needs to have the infrastructure invested in it, and I'm pleased that the state and federal governments are working together as much as they possibly can.

Gary Adshead: Are you frustrated though? There's a bit of doubt about what the route will become in terms of getting into Fremantle, and that really does give those that are critics of this some ammunition to fire back. They say, you know, we don't even know how it's going to get to Fremantle, let alone how much money that might cost and whether it's under the river, over the river, or whatever.

Darren Chester: Well I guess there is a level of frustration in that regard. The last thing I want to do is, as someone who lives in Victoria and goes to work in Canberra, is to come and tell the people of Western Australia how to build their infrastructure. We will look to work in partnership with the State Government, with the Barnett Government on projects that they see are in the best interests of the community. I'm not going to come here and dictate terms and conditions of that nature. I want to work with the elected State Government and build the infrastructure the community needs, and that's what it's all about in terms of meeting with the Premier and the minister today. That's why we're having a forum here today with ministers from right across Australia to talk about road safety, seeing how we can work together as much as we possibly can, in a way which is constructive for the broader community.

Gary Adshead: You are from Victoria, and of course we saw, very controversial in terms of state politics over there, when contracts for a particular road infrastructure were ripped up. Now, of course, that's the issue here. Labor are saying that it's the wrong route. There's an election in March and there's a danger that they might rip up the Roe 8 extension. What do you say to that?

Darren Chester: Well I think that would be a mistake. I mean, the experience in Victoria with the East West Link project was not a good experience. We've seen $1.1 billion of taxpayers money used to not build a road, which is very unfortunate, and it's not something that I'd like to see repeated around Australia.

Gary Adshead: All right, I'll let you get on with your sod turning. I do appreciate you joining us today, Minister.

Darren Chester: Appreciate your time, Gary. All the best.

Gary Adshead: Darren Chester, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, here for a few things, but of course the $1.96 billion Forrestfield Airport Link, the construction is beginning so they'll be turning over some dirt out there.