Transcript of Interview: Joint Press Conference with Hon Duncan Gay MLC

Interview

BPC047/2014

30 May 2014

Jamie Briggs: It is fantastic to be here today with the Action Minister—New South Wales Action Minister, or Roads Minister, Duncan Gay and parliamentary colleagues delivering upon the second stage of WestConnex 18 months early.

Today we are announcing—we're launching the environmental impact statement process, the community consultation, to get underway with WestConnex Stage 2 earlier than what we expected because the Federal Government committed $2 billion in the Federal Budget through a concessional loan to get this project started along with New South Wales. New South Wales under the leadership of Mike Baird, Duncan Gay, are getting on with it. That's what we want. We want outcomes. We don't just want announcements. So this is a first step; a very important step to getting the project underway here at King Georges Road on the M5 to ensure that we get WestConnex Stage 2…

We are also doing additional announcements today in relation to the Western Sydney package, which Duncan will talk about, but again it is delivering upon the commitments. It is making decisions and taking action. It just shows what happens when you have an Infrastructure Prime Minister driving the agenda in cooperation with action-focused states.

Duncan?

Duncan Gay: Thanks, Jamie. It's really great. Two weeks ago, I was out on this road with the Premier, the Prime Minister, Jamie, and myself when we announced the $2 billion loan which is allowing us to start early. We've already submitted a planning proposal for this road, and today they've started looking at the EIS. So things are happening. That's 18 months earlier. You can hear behind us the people that use it are just ecstatic, and so they should be. It's been a bloody mess for too long and they, like us, can't wait to get the thing fixed.

So we'll get the air horns, we'll get the toots. People are happy because they like what the Prime Minister is doing and they like what the Premier is doing. We're about to start Stage 2 of WestConnex at the same time as Stage 1. They also know a little bit up the road currently happening is the widening of the M5 West. So they're seeing things happen from the State and the Federal Government.

We're also announcing today that we're looking for the chief operating officer, the project manager, for the delivery of the Western Sydney roads—$3.5 million in there—and we're also announcing that the contract has been let for Stage 1 of Bringelly Road. A lot happening very important in New South Wales, so we thank the Federal Government for their help our members, both state and federal. We're pretty darn excited.

Question: So what does Stage 2 involve? What will be happening at part Stage 2?

Duncan Gay: Stage 2 will involve the enhancement of this intersection here on King Georges Road, which is Ring Road 3, and the M5 East section. It will also involve four lanes each way to link up with the airport and the city and the rest of Sydney Westlink. So we didn't think we'd be able to start this for 18 months after Stage 1. This money now means that we're underway with the planning and we will start construction next year in 2015.

Question: So when will we see machines happening in the ground?

Duncan Gay: Big machines will be here next year.

Duncan Gay: And you can bet your bippy that the Premier and the Prime Minister and Jamie and myself will be back here with alacrity.

Question: So you say work's beginning today. Was that the initial planning work, or…?

Duncan Gay: We've submitted the planning application and the EIS work is starting today.

Question: Once this Stage 2 is complete, what kind of difference will it make for travel times?

Duncan Gay: Look, it'll make a huge difference. This road was obsolete from the day it was built. If you're in any doubt what the people of Sydney feel about this improvement, you've only got to stand here as we are today and hear the cheers and the horns from the people. They know what we're talking about here, and they're ecstatic. There's not too often when you see road improvements happening that you'll get that sort of response of people pretty happy.

Question: If you hadn't got…

Jamie Briggs: But the thing about that, though, is it's also about jobs. In the next few years, this project alone will be creating 10,000 jobs. Add to that the amount of jobs that will be created with our Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan and you're creating thousands of new jobs for people in Sydney to make sure that we're as productive as we can be. And that was absolutely the focus of the Budget—the infrastructure plan and the Budget—to build a stronger Australia.

Question: If you hadn't had this accelerated funding coming from the federals, when would we have seen Stage 2 starting?

Duncan Gay: Wouldn't have started for another 18 months. They're helping us help Sydney. It fixes the congestion. It fixes the productivity of Sydney. This is helping us kick start Sydney. It is just so important, and we're so pleased to have a grown up government in Canberra that we can talk to on these sort of projects.

Question: Will any properties or homes be impacted by the Stage 2 works at all?

Duncan Gay: Yes, there will be. But we are keeping it to a minimum and we are making sure wherever possible that if people want to be negotiated with, if they're close to an area, that we do that. Hurting people is not in our game plan. But the sad thing is that the Labor Party in times gone past had sold off the route where these roads could have gone without hurting any houses. But it will be a small amount of houses in this. But we will make sure that we consult properly with the community because we know the angst of people in this situation.

Question: Do you have a rough figure of how many homes would need to be acquired or?

Duncan Gay: It is around about 50 in the project, but we could come back with the exact figure.

Question: Could I just ask you on some other matters?

Jamie Briggs: Sure.

Question: The issue with votes and the drama with the double voting and multiple voting. Are you concerned by that?

Jamie Briggs: Of course. I mean, we want an electoral system which has got the most integrity that we could possibly have. It's a fundamental pillar of our democracy, and obviously there's been some very concerning outcomes in recent years. The AEC's obviously made a catastrophic error in Western Australia and this is another example of why there needs to be some reform. Tony Smith, who's leading the Parliamentary Committee on looking at the AEC and the voting system, had been making some recommendations, and I think it's important that we work through how to ensure that we've got the integrity in the system that the Australian people deserve.

Question: How do you feel about the revelations that senior Labor figures supported a user pays medical system some time ago?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I just think what you're seeing with the Federal Labor Party at the moment—you've seen with the revelation this morning that Bill… that Paul Keating's now writing Bill Shorten's speeches—that it's all about politics. It's not about policy. The Labor Party for years have supported a co-payment. Jenny Macklin indeed is the mother of the co-payment and now we see Peter Beattie as well, an uncle of the co-payment. So we want to see the Labor Party actually engage in ways to fix Australia—to build a stronger Australia. I mean remarkably, Anthony Albanese is opposed to WestConnex Stage 2. Absolutely remarkably. It's all about politics; it's not about the policy.

Question: Regarding funding for the Refugee Council, are you likely to, like that one, go back on any other savings measures promised in the Federal Budget?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, that's a matter that Scott Morrison will deal with.

Jamie Briggs: Thank you. Great.

Duncan Gay: Thanks very much.