Transcript of Interview, ABC AM Program with Chris Uhlmann

Interview

BPC024/2014

16 April 2014

Chris Uhlmann: Jamie Briggs is the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Good morning.

Jamie Briggs: Good morning, Chris.

Chris Uhlmann: Jamie Briggs, can you give us some sense—there's a bewildering array of roads that's just been discussed. What are you trying to do around that Sydney airport site—second Sydney airport site?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, it's not about an airport, it's about an economic plan. And what we're doing with this is building the capacity of a city of, in effect, two million people growing to three million people over the next two decades so they can contribute more to our national economy.

The airport is but a part of a broader plan. What we're doing today—with over $3.5 billion worth of investment over the next 10 years, 80 per cent of it from the Federal Government—is helping to ensure that the people of Western Sydney can contribute to the full extent that they know that they want to and they know they can, and this is what this plan's about, is that Western Sydney economic plan, it's not just about an aerodrome which will be built in the coming years.

Chris Uhlmann: Why should people living in the rest of Australia, the people in your state of South Australia, for example, be interested in big spending around Sydney's second airport?

Jamie Briggs: Well, because this is about growing our national economy, and we will have much more to say about our infrastructure plans in and around the budget, I can assure you of that.

But in respect of the Western Sydney airport and the Western Sydney economic plan, this is about getting better economic performance for our people. If we have a stronger growing economy, you get a better result if you live in Adelaide, no matter where the growth is in the economy, and this is what it's about.

Chris Uhlmann: Will there be other projects of similar size in other capital cities?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, we are always open with the ABC, Chris, you know that, but we will hold our nerve with you under this pressure and make sure we make the announcements when they're ready to be made.

Chris Uhlmann: When will the spending on this begin? When will holes be dug and roads built?

Jamie Briggs: We will be getting some of this work going this year. Duncan Gay and I have been given responsibility by the Prime Minister and Premier O'Farrell to ensure that these roads are delivered as quickly as possible because we want Western Sydney to be contributing to our economy more than it is today.

We've heard much in recent years about Western Sydney, but people in Western Sydney wouldn't be, I suspect, sitting there thinking all this talk hasn't led to much action. We want to see action. We've got $1.3 billion allocated in the next four years to spend from the federal perspective, and more from the state. We are protecting corridors for rail and road investment as well. This is a comprehensive economic plan, not just about an airport but about building the capacity of Western Sydney.

Chris Uhlmann: Will you be borrowing the money for these road projects, or will the money come from cuts to other services?

Jamie Briggs: That's a matter the Treasurer will outline in full detail on 13 May.

Chris Uhlmann: Will there be higher taxes because of this?

Jamie Briggs: That'll be a matter that the Treasurer will outline on 13 May.

Chris Uhlmann: Well, we are reading this morning that the Government is considering higher taxes. Do you think that people expected that when they voted for you before the last election?

Jamie Briggs: What they expected is a government who'll do what it says, and we said we would bring the budget under control. We said we would stop the boats. We said we would build the infrastructure of the 21st century, and we said we'd get rid of the unnecessary taxes like the carbon tax and the mining tax, and that's exactly what people…

Chris Uhlmann: But you didn't say you'd lift taxes, did you?

Jamie Briggs: We said we would get the budget under control. We said we would build the infrastructure of the 21st century and we said we would stop the boats, and that's exactly what the Government's doing. And on 13 May you'll see the Treasurer highlight an economic plan for our future, to ensure the budget is living within its means and that we've got a stronger growing economy from infrastructure for the 21st century delivered by the infrastructure Prime Minister.

Chris Uhlmann: Now, the Federal Government won't be spending any money on rail. Why is that?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, the rail networks across the country are owned and operated—the passenger rail networks are owned and operated by state governments—and we are putting increased resources into the road networks, not just in Western Sydney but across the country. We'll ensure that we are spending more in that respect, which will let the state governments get on and do the rail corridors.

In respect of the airport, as the negotiations with the Sydney Airport Corporation go on, I'm sure the O'Farrell Government will put in place plans for the future, as is needed, to build additional rail services. But it won't, of course, be needed until you have substantial services out in that part.

Chris Uhlmann: Finally, briefly, the former Liberal Minister and Western Sydney MP Jackie Kelly says the Prime Minister has signed his death warrant and she'll campaign against Sydney's second airport. Will the Government back down if there are protests?

Jamie Briggs: The Prime Minister has signed a plan for the future of Western Sydney, a comprehensive investment with the New South Wales Government who, I must say, has been terrific to work with in putting this together. This is a plan for our future, it's a plan for stronger growth and it's a plan for a better Australia.

Chris Uhlmann: Jamie Briggs, we'll have to leave it there, thank you.

Jamie Briggs: Thanks, Chris.

Chris Uhlmann: And Jamie Briggs is the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.