Transcript of Interview, ABC News Radio, Breakfast



16 April 2014

Fiona Ellis-Jones: Well, looking to politics now, Tony Abbott's promised to curb spending in his first budget next month, but he's also promising to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, and that will be his role this morning when he details plans for the roads network to support that planned second airport for Sydney. The roads are expected to cost significantly more than the airport itself.

For more on that, Marius Benson is speaking to the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs.

Marius Benson: Jamie Briggs, airports are very expensive, a price tag of $2.5 billion put on Badgerys Creek at this stage, roads even more so. Is the spend now estimated at $3 billion to $3.5 billion?

Jamie Briggs: The spend on the roads will be $3.5 billion over 10 years, so a combination of the Federal Government, and we'll spend 80 per cent on these roads, and the remainder will be spent by the New South Wales Government, and we're doing that because we believe Western Sydney has great economic potential. The airport is part of a broader plan and the airport, of course, will take some time. The initial stages will be a negotiation with the Sydney Airport Corporation, who has the right under their contract to do so.

But the roads will get underway straight away because we believe it's time that Western Sydney had the opportunity to contribute to the broader national economy to the extent we believe it can. There are million people living in the western part of Sydney. It doesn't have the infrastructure to support what is a significant economic area for our country and this $3.5 billion contribution to building the economic opportunities in Western Sydney is long overdue and we're very proud that we are the government that will be implementing it.

Marius Benson: And that $3.5 billion, you said 80 per cent from federal coffers, 20 per cent from the state of New South Wales. Will you be looking to recover that through tolls?

Jamie Briggs: No. This will be just investment. This will be investment in roads in and around Western Sydney. It'll be about connecting Western Sydney. It'll be about the Northern Road, Elizabeth Drive Motorway, these roads which will be very much focused on growing the opportunity in Western Sydney themselves. This is part of a broader economic plan for Western Sydney. It's not just about an airport, it's about making the most of a huge part of our country and an enormously growing part of our country that has terrific infrastructure needs.

And as I say, this has been talked about for a very long time. The New South Wales Government has been extraordinarily cooperative in the last few weeks developing this project and we're very proudly today going to announce it.

Marius Benson: But just to clarify this is just government money, federal and state, no tolls, no public/private partnerships?

Jamie Briggs: This will be investment in roads. There are, of course, tollways in relation to WestConnex and NorthConnex, but the roads we're talking about today out of Western Sydney will not be roads, it'll be contributed to by the private sector.

Marius Benson: Now, it was reported there was a link up last night with Liberals with electorates in Western Sydney with senior ministers and some expressing concerns about elements of the Badgerys Creek development. Were you part of that link up?

Jamie Briggs: The Prime Minister has been very open with his colleagues in Western Sydney for some time. We said before the election we'd make an early decision on this. The Prime Minister has been engaging regularly. Minister Truss and I have been engaging regularly. As you would expect, Marius, we're a government that does things in a thought through way, and we've been thinking about this for some time. Minister Truss and I have been working with the New South Wales Government from Premier O'Farrell, Treasurer Baird, and Duncan Gay to get this plan in place and today we'll announce it and Duncan Gay and I will go about ensuring that it's delivered.

Last night, we spoke to Western Sydney colleagues about that so that they understand just how committed the government is to building the infrastructure that they need to grow the economy in their part of the world.

Marius Benson: One specific concern expressed by representatives of people in Western Sydney is that when the Badgerys Creek airport goes ahead, it should have a curfew the same as the existing one at Mascot where there are restrictions between 11pm and 6am, but the Prime Minister made it clear yesterday that's not going to happen, a curfew.

Jamie Briggs: That's obviously part of the airport negotiations that the Deputy Prime Minister will have responsibility for. But clearly if you want to build a new piece of infrastructure, one that has well protected areas around it, one of the problems, Marius, we've had in Australia in the last 30 years is that we've sold out much of the protected land to build infrastructure and, therefore, you see, for instance, with WestConnex, you having to build big tunnels to deal with those issues. Badgerys Creek is the exception. We've actually protected the infrastructure in that part of Sydney, so the need for those sorts of protections is not there as it is with the existing airport in Sydney.

Marius Benson: Jamie Briggs, thank you very much.

Jamie Briggs: Thanks, Marius. Good to talk.

Fiona Ellis-Jones: The Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Jamie Briggs speaking to Marius Benson.