Transcript of Interview, SKY News AM Agenda with Kieran Gilbert



16 April 2014

Kieran Gilbert: With me, I've got the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure, Jamie Briggs. Jamie Briggs, thanks for your time. How much will be spent on this roads package around the second airport?

Jamie Briggs: Well, what we're doing is building an economic plan in Western Sydney which will have $3.5 billion allocated to it in the next 10 years to build the roads of the 21st century, to ensure that we've got the productive capacity in that part of Sydney that we believe we can make the most of. This is not just about an airport. It's about an economic plan for Western Sydney. We've thought it through with the New South Wales Government, who've been terrific in their cooperation in working this detail through. We're going to fund it to 80 per cent of this commitment, $1.3 billion from the Federal Government over the next four years, and we're going to ensure that the road projects get underway as soon as possible, just as the Prime Minister committed to yesterday.

Kieran Gilbert: So 1.3 over the next four years, in total? Is it 3.5 billion? Is that the correct number?

Jamie Briggs: Three and a half billion total for the 10 years. 1.3 over the next four from the Federal Government alone. We're very committed to this.

Kieran Gilbert: And no toll roads, Jamie Briggs?

Jamie Briggs: No, this is public investment. Of course, you've got the WestConnex, you've got the NorthConnex which are both private sector funded roads, but this will be public sector investment to build the capacity of Western Sydney. A city of two million people growing to three million people over the next couple of decades; a city that deserves this sort of attention so we can get a better economic performance, not just for Western Sydney but for our country as a whole.

Kieran Gilbert: The Sydney Airport Corporation has two years to exercise their first right of refusal, Minister. That would mean construction would be unlikely to commence in 2016. Will you try and encourage them to make a decision sooner?

Jamie Briggs: Well, the Deputy Prime Minister will take the lead on the negotiations with the Sydney Airport Corporation, and I will work with Duncan Gay, the New South Wales Minister for Roads to ensure that the road networks are upgraded as we're committing to today.

This is not just about an airport; it's about building the capacity of Western Sydney. We are not just about plonking a new airport in the Western part of Sydney. We're about building the capacity out there and the airport fits as part of that plan. It is not the whole plan. Ensuring that we've got the economic capacity in that part of Western Sydney is what we really desire.

Kieran Gilbert: The former Liberal Minister Jackie Kelly apparently, in her words, ballistic over this decision and says that the Prime Minister has signed a political death warrant. What do you say to that?

Jamie Briggs: Well, the Prime Minister signed an economic plan for Western Sydney. That's what he's done. He's the infrastructure Prime Minister for a reason, and that is because he's thinking about the future of our economy. He's thinking about what it is we need to do to invest, and not just in Western Sydney but across the country, to ensure that we're performing economically as well as we ought to be, we're taking the advantages of the unique position we have in the globe in the next few years by building the economic infrastructure that people can move on more efficiently and that freight can move around our country in a better economic fashion.

Kieran Gilbert: And finally, when will the bulldozers begin work, do you hope, on these roads?

Jamie Briggs: Very soon. We hope that some of these roads will get underway as soon as possible. Some of them this year, we would hope work will begin. Duncan Gay and I will be working night and day to ensure that these roads are delivered, as we'll promise today.

Kieran Gilbert: And within 12 months you want that work to commence?

Jamie Briggs: Well, no. I hope some of the work will begin this year. New South Wales, of course, takes responsibility for the planning and putting in place the road project, but Duncan Gay's a terrific minister. The New South Wales Government has been sensational in the way that they've worked through this plan with the Federal Government, and I'm very confident we'll deliver if we get work underway as soon as possible.

Kieran Gilbert: Jamie Briggs, a busy day. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

Jamie Briggs: Good on you, mate. Thank you.