Doorstop, Warragul Station Victoria
30 April 2017
Subject: Infrastructure in Victoria, housing affordability
Darren Chester: Well first of all can I say it's good that the Premier and the Public Transport Minister are showing some interest in regional rail, and obviously, given that public transport is primarily a state responsibility, that is very good news. The Federal Government has made it clear that we are willing to work with state governments on passenger rail projects, but we need to see the business cases, we need to see plans and how they're going to implement it, and most of all, we need to see state governments prepared to make a contribution themselves.
What we have seen today, basically, is Premier Andrews, has written a Santa wishlist to Prime Minister, without any money going on the table, without any planning, without a business case, without any State Government funding. We will need to see the State Government step up some funds on their Budget on Tuesday night and make a real commitment to regional rail.
Reporter: Doesn't this money already belong to Victoria? This federal money that came from the Port sale?
Darren Chester: Well no it doesn't. If we're going to go back to the history of this funding, let's be aware of the fact that the Victorian State Government failed to meet the deadline required for the asset recycling initiative. Other states met that deadline. What we need to do is work to the future, work in partnership with the state governments on regional rail projects we can agree on. I'm ready to do a deal with the State Government on regional rail projects, but they need to provide us with a plan, provide us business cases and show some real commitment with a dedicated regional rail fund in this weeks' state budget.
Reporter: Do you think that they are trying to essentially take the glory for what will be - to make it happen, would have to be a federal-state partnership?
Darren Chester: Well, far be it for me to second-guess what the State Government is trying to do. This would be a great announcement if it was true, but unfortunately it is not true. The money that the Premier is talking about is the subject of a feud between the State and Federal Governments. We need to sit down together and work out how we can work in the best interests of regional Victorians that gives them the infrastructure they require when it comes to regional passenger rail. I'm ready and willing to do that. I can't speculate on what might be in the federal budget in nine days' time, but I'm very confident that there will be commitments to regional infrastructure in Victoria. And at that time we are going to have to sit down and do a deal and work out how we can invest in regional rail infrastructure Victorians want.
Reporter: How much do you think the State Government needs to chip in for you to come to the party?
Darren Chester: Well, let's go and work it out. I haven't seen a plan. I haven't seen a business case. I haven't seen any commitments from the Victorian State Government of their own funds to regional rail going forward. Despite all of that, we will be able to sit down and work out how we can do a deal.
Reporter: There was also some talk today in the paper about first-home buyers being helped out with some salary sacrificing plan. How do you think that's going to help people down here and also in Victoria?
Darren Chester: I'm very interested in State and Federal Governments working with the community on the issue of housing affordability. Now, of course one of the great answers to housing affordability is living in a regional location. One of the great benefits of our regional lifestyles is we offer cheaper housing. We offer great career opportunities. We offer great lifestyle and experience, and we need to make sure though that we provide the infrastructure those regional communities need and that's part of my role.