Press conference

Interview

DCI082/2017

11 October 2017

Subjects: Regional road safety package announcement in WA

Darren Chester: Well, it's great to be here in WA. I've just had a very productive meeting with Minister Saffioti, and we talked about some of the great programs we are working together already on here in WA, but also the near future, what future projects we might be able to partner with the Western Australian State Government on.

I'm very pleased though today to be able announce we've reached agreement on a $55 million Regional Road Safety package. Here in WA, we've had a disturbing trend over the last couple of years of increases in road trauma in some of our regional areas, and so today we're announcing 16 projects with a total of $55 million—$44 million from the Commonwealth, $11 million from Western Australian State Government—which will be aimed directly at reducing road trauma in regional areas. It's something that Minister Saffioti and I both are very passionate about. We want to see reductions in road trauma in our regional communities.

So there's a total of 16 projects, and I'll ask Minister Saffioti to go through some of the details with you in a few moments time, but can I simply say that we want to keep working with the community to accept their own level of responsibility for improving road safety, but also acknowledging that as governments, at federal and state level, we have responsibilities as well to provide the safest road environment we can. We know if we provide better, safer roads, we're going to save lives and we're going to reduce serious injuries in the community, and it's very pleasing that we've been able to reach an agreement on this $55 million package, which I have no doubt will deliver some long-term benefits for the people of Western Australia.

Rita Saffioti: Thank you very much, it's a great pleasure to be here this morning to talk about regional road safety and further investment in regional roads. As part of our $2.3 billion package we announced in May, we allocated—together with the Commonwealth, of course—$44 million from that package to address a number of issues in regional WA, but to really improve road safety in regional WA. I know the Federal Minister's very passionate about regional road safety, and we're very keen to work with the Federal Government to identify areas around the state where we can invest on key projects to reduce road trauma and really improve safety throughout regional WA.

We've contributed $11 million to the program, so we have $55 million for new projects around regional WA. They include, of course, projects like $7 million for the Indian Ocean Drive that was announced recently, other projects in the Great Southern, and other projects on the Goldfields Highway. Projects around the state. We've worked with the Commonwealth to identify- to go through a process assessing road safety priorities, and also what we can deliver on the ground as soon as possible. It's a great outcome, and again shows what we can deliver working together, to try and improve road safety around WA, and also spending more money on regional roads.

This is part of our overall package, which is, of course, about investing in public transport, investing in roads, and, in particular, increasing our expenditure and expenditure on roads in regional WA, and it's a great initiative that's going to service a lot of communities throughout WA.

Shall I take questions, or who do you want to take questions first?

Question: On other issues?

Rita Saffioti: On this issue first.

Question: I guess with Indian Ocean Drive, it is one that has had a lot of publicity recently, just because there have been quite a number of fatal accidents …

Rita Saffioti: [Talks over] Sure.

Question: … but it isn't the worst regional road. I guess, just in terms of that road though, have there been any plans?

Rita Saffioti: Well, as part of Indian Ocean Drive, we've got a number of projects. As you know, Main Roads; the Road Safety Commission and police are working together to try and deliver a coordinated response. Together with the $7 million for four overtaking lanes, we're also spending money from Road Trauma Trust Account to fund 30 kilometres of audible line edging and also looking at other programs to improve safety.

Look, this is all about a continued focus, and this is part of an overall package. We have this $55 million program that will be rolled out very, very soon. We also have, of course, expenditure from the Road Trauma Trust Account for black spots and other areas of concern around the state, and we have other expenditure that comes through local governments and also through the state program.

So this is part of a continued overall program. As I said, we're very, very keen to continue our focus on regional road safety, and to work with local councils and local communities, and, of course, the Federal Government, and I acknowledge the work and the priority that the Federal Government, and in particular this Minister, has on regional road safety, and very, very keen to continue to work with the Federal Government to actually really deliver on programs throughout regional WA.

Question: Can you tell us about some of the changes in the Great Southern and in the Goldfields?

Rita Saffioti: Yes. Around Albany we're going to develop some significant programs, and I'll go through that list with you later on—I'll grab that list—and also the Goldfields Highway; improve safety and develop some passing lanes.

It's a long list. I can go through that with you separately of the 16 projects, but basically, what it's doing is identifying areas of high risk and, where we can, develop passing lanes and also improve intersections and also road treatment. It's all about trying to really improve safety across WA.

Question: The Forrestfield Airport Link has come under scrutiny today. CFMEU's rallying, saying they've got a bit of a dud deal. They're claiming only three workers signed off on the pay deal that cut $1000 compared to comparable projects. Do you have any response to that?

Rita Saffioti: No, I've just learnt that there's some protest happening. I'll get briefed on that later today. Look, that contract was signed before we won government. I know the union has concerns. Our focus is the delivery of that excellent project for the community.

Question: They're calling for changes around labour hire laws and an investigation into the project. Is that something you could look into?

Rita Saffioti: Sure. I'll talk to the Minister for Commerce about that, but I do think this is mainly picked up under the Australian workplace laws, and the Federal Government workplace laws. I'll talk to the Minister for Commerce about that this morning, but my understanding is most of it is governed by the Federal Government.

Question: And the protest appears to have blocked traffic, caused havoc for peak hour traffic. Any sort of comments around what the rally could have done better?

Rita Saffioti: Well, I urge everyone to work together to deliver this excellent project. This is a great project. Of course, people have rights to protest, but I urge everyone to work together to deliver this excellent project.

Question: Sorry, specifically about peak hour traffic this morning. It's hit peak hour traffic, caused problems for commuters and whatnot.

Rita Saffioti: Well, that's a concern, and I don't want people unnecessarily delayed; in particular, people going to work or going to their homes. I don't like seeing that, and I urge all the parties to work together.

Question: Just a couple of questions for Minister Chester if that's alright. Do you agree with Mr Abbott's views on global warming given in his London speech?

Darren Chester: I didn't hear Tony's speech. I've- really not paying much attention to what Tony has to say these days.

Question: And Tony Abbott has said there must be no clean energy target. Is he driving your policy on this?

Darren Chester: No, not at all. The Prime Minister is, and the Minister responsible, Josh Frydenberg, are driving our policy in relation to energy. We've made it very clear we're absolutely determined to provide for reliable and affordable energy around Australia. This has been a monumental failure of public policy over the past decade, and we're picking up the pieces right now to make sure that households have reductions in the cost of living, making sure the energy's affordable for them, and in terms of the business and manufacturing sector, the reliability of energy supply is a critical issue for us as a nation. We have a cheap and reliable base load form of energy in coal available to us to use, and we should be using that in a balance with our renewable energy targets, meeting our emissions targets that we've agreed to at an international level, so it is a balance of getting the economics and the engineering right. It's not a question of ideology. It's a question of making sure we have affordable, reliable energy for all Australians, but most importantly, for our business and manufacturing sector, which we obviously depend on heavily for jobs.