Transcript of Joint Doorstop: Announcement of commencement of Geotechnical investigations for the western section of the East West Link and inspect drilling site



11 September 2014

Joint Doorstop with Premier Denis Naphine and Minister Mulder
Doors, Parliament House

Denis Naphine: So, I acknowledge today is 11 September, and on the anniversary of 9/11, we are delivering infrastructure that is decongesting Melbourne, that is helping families and individuals get out of that congestion and get to their work quicker, get home quicker, improving transport productivity and efficiency and creating 2000 jobs, in contrast to Daniel Andrews and Labor, who want to condemn Melbourne and Victoria to decade after decade of congestion and gridlock.

So, I'm very pleased to be here today with the geotechnical here right beside me, and right behind me we see gridlock, we see congestion, we see trucks being held up in traffic. We want to decongest Melbourne. We want to improve transport productivity efficiency. We want to create 6200 jobs, and that's what we're on about, and it's my pleasure now to ask Terry Mulder to tell us why we're doing the geotechnical drilling here and how it helps us build the East West Link western section.

Terry Mulder: Thank you, Premier. The rig you see behind you is a drill rig and will be drilling holes in this location and other locations between here and the Princess Freeway to better inform the technical team, who can in turn inform the bidders for the road project going forward.

Behind me, this road, the Western Ring Road, carries around 140,000 vehicles a day and around 25 per cent of those are heavy vehicles. They come together with traffic coming in to the Princess Freeway to head across the West Gate Bridge. Two hundred thousand vehicles a day on the West Gate Bridge.

What we do know going forward with the predictions is that truck volumes by 2015 and the freight task is going to double. Can you imagine what it's going to be like if we don't build the western section of the East West Link and the Eastern Section of the East West Link?

This project is vital for Melbourne. It's vital for our reputation. It's vital for our productivity, and we have to get on and build it. A taxi with his bonnet up, or a single accident, and you have absolute chaos along this route. It's important for our future. It's important for Melbourne's reputation. It's important that we can continue to grow jobs in this stage, and if we do nothing, what you see behind us is a shadow of what will happen into the future.

This road will stop. The West Gate Bridge—a major incident on the West Gate Bridge means not only Melbourne, but Victoria grinds to a halt. There is no other option. We have to have a second crossing. Any major business doing a risk profile on their business would never, ever allow themselves to be caught in a position without having a second option in terms of a supply chain or a supplier in their own right. We have to have a second crossing in Melbourne. The Coalition Government are committed to it.

Three weeks ago, the would-be treasurer of Victoria, Tim Pallas, said irrespective of legal obligations, when Victoria says it's going to do something, then it will do it. Daniel Andrews is now saying he's going to tear up a legal document and try and stop this road if Labor win government. It would be a disaster for Victoria, it would be a disaster for Melbourne, and it would cripple the freight industry and drive costs through the roof in this state. I'll now hand over to Jamie Briggs.

Jamie Briggs: Thank you to Terry and to the Premier who is very passionate about this state. It is a great pleasure to be here today committing one and a half billion dollars of federal government money on top of the one and a half billion dollars we've committed to the first stage of the East West Project. We've done so because the federal government is committed to driving our growth—our national economy's growth, and this is a vital project to ensure that we are driving growth in Victoria for our national economy.

The benefits this part of the project will bring in getting our freight to port, our product to market, are enormous. Australia will never get rich by selling to itself. We need infrastructure which ensures that we can move around our country efficiently, effectively and in a way that lifts our productivity. We have a productivity problem as a country. We have a challenge with jobs. This project not only delivers a productivity uplift: it delivers thousands of new jobs.

It is an absolutely vital project, and that is why the federal government is committing three billion dollars to get this underway, and we are so pleased that the Victorian Government, which is such a terrific partner when it comes to delivering infrastructure, is getting on with this project as quickly as they are. We want to see cranes and bulldozers on this site as quickly as possible so we get the benefits of what is a magnificent project for Victoria and for our country.

Question: Premier, what's your view that the opposition may not necessarily proceed with this project?

Denis Naphine: Well, I think the people of Melbourne and Victoria have a clear choice between a Government that is investing in the infrastructure Victoria needs to grow and develop, the public transport infrastructure, the road infrastructure, including the vital East West Link. It will decongest Melbourne. It will improve productivity and efficiency, create 6200 jobs, and Labor's alternative is years and decades of congestion, gridlock and additional costs for all Victorian families.

Question: So the idea [indistinct].

Denis Naphine: Well, the people of Victoria know that we're going to build the infrastructure Victoria needs, create the jobs Victoria needs and deliver for the individuals and the families a better quality of life. Labor oppose it. Labor oppose CityLink. Labor oppose all the major projects that make a difference to the liveability and productivity in Melbourne and Victoria.

Question: Premier, are you confident the planning process is being done legally and [indistinct]

Denis Naphine: We have great confidence in the process we've gone through. Our government has a great track record of doing things properly, appropriately and managing projects well, whether it be the Regional Rail Link, whether it be the East West Link, whether it be the Melbourne Rail Link, we are a government that delivers projects on time, under budget and delivers them appropriately.

Question: And politically do you think that you've pulled the right rein by backing the tunnel? Do you think it will be more popular with the voters than no tunnel?

Denis Naphine: Well, I think people sitting on the Eastern Freeway today waiting to get onto Hoddle Street will say we want East West Link. The people sitting on the Deer Park bypass this morning, the people sitting at Laverton on the Princess Highway West trying to get across the West Gate Bridge know we need the East West Link.

The people know we need to invest in infrastructure as Melbourne grows, and that's why we're building the East West Link, but we're also building vital public transport and rail infrastructure.

Question: And when will we see the final designs for stage 1 of the East West Link [indistinct]

Denis Naphine: Well, we've made an announcement now with regard to the preferred tenderer, and we're going through the final stages of that contract, and that will be announced very shortly.

Question: [indistinct] stage 2 [indistinct] homes that will be affected indistinct]

Denis Naphine: Well, we're going through the geotechnical drilling at the moment, which will better inform the bidding process so that we'll have an efficient and effective bidding process, and that will roll out over the next few months, and we'll be very much getting on with this job.

Question: [indistinct]

Terry Mulder: You'll see construction work on this section later next year. It's a project that will run from 2015 through to 2023. It is a massive project, 8 to $10 billion worth of construction work. It'll be a mixture of surface viaduct tunnel, bridge structures, and it's a project that can be broken up into sectors. So we'll work through the procurement model going forward, but you can start to see activity towards the end of next year.

Question: What about [indistinct] have you started that yet?

Terry Mulder: There has been some work been undertaken, and we're proceeding with that project as well, as the Premier's indicated. We've got a solid financial record. We've got the ability to fund these projects, the Melbourne Rail Link, the airport rail link, the eastern section of this project, the western section, the widening of the Tullamarine Freeway.

This State is going to see an unprecedented level of investment in infrastructure, and it will set us up for the future. It's about getting ahead of the curveand if you want to recite any time you like those famous words of the now opposition leader, they were thrown out of office because they failed to plan for growth. We are planning for growth, and we're getting ahead of the curve.

Question: [indistinct]

Terry Mulder: Well, as I said, we've got allocated funding in the budget. There's $830 million in the budget for that project. All the design work and the planning work is now being carried out.

It also includes, as we've indicated, a link to Melbourne Airport. We'll engage with the private sector in terms of the procurement of that project. As you've seen with Regional Rail Link—it was due to be completed 2016 under a former Labor Government, 2015—early 2015 under the government of the day, and what we've done, we've opened the benefits of that project up as they've become available, rather than wait until the end of the project, and I would suggest that Melbourne Rail Link will fall into that category.

Question: But will the taxpayers be liable for the full $8 billion if the project was to be scrapped?

Denis Naphine: Well, clearly, under a Coalition Government, we're going to proceed with this project. This project is good for Melbourne, good for Victoria but, most importantly, it's good for people and good for families. People and families don't want to be stuck in traffic. People and families want to get to their work and get home from work as efficiently as possible. People want to get to the footy as quickly as possible. If they want to move around Melbourne, they know the benefits of CityLink and they want those same benefits to the north of Melbourne, through East West Link. This is about families and people. This is about productivity and efficiency. It's about creating jobs. It's about decongesting Melbourne and, certainly, the western section of the East West Link's about getting those heavy trucks out of Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray, improving the quality of life in those suburbs.

Question: It won't be an issue if you win the election and the court case. You're very confident about the court case.

Jamie Briggs: Well, we're very, very, very keen to win the election and we're certainly very confident of winning the court case, but what we are also confident about is that people of Melbourne and Victoria understand, when you've got a growing population, you've got a growing city and a growing state, you need infrastructure and that's why we're spending a record amount on hospital infrastructure, a record amount on school infrastructure, we're spending a significant amount on public transport and road infrastructure, whether it be in the city or in regional and rural Victoria. We are a Government who's building the infrastructure for a growing population, so that individuals and families benefit.

Question: Mr Briggs, the $1.5 billion that the federal government are putting into the Western Ring Road: the bulk of that was previously set aside for completing the widening of this road, the ring road. Has the federal government abandoned its commitment to [indistinct] widening the ring road?

Jamie Briggs: No. Well, it wasn't. There was a portion of it but at least a billion dollars of it is new money for the Western side of the West Link project, in the—in the Federal budget. We've still got projects on the M80 and the M80's an important part of the freight network in Victoria and we continue to work with the Victorian Government to deliver an upgraded M80, as—as we have been for several years.

Question: Will it be fully widened [indistinct]?

Jamie Briggs: Well, we're working with the Victorian Government on the next stages of work, but can I make one point, without trying to be political in front of my Victorian friends, but the Melbourne Rail Link project, which is an important project, and other infrastructure projects, which the federal government will potentially put more money into is being held up in the Senate by the Labor Party's opposition to the asset recycling initiative.

The Melbourne Rail Link's an important project. It's part of the Victorian Government's plan and we think it should go ahead and, in fact, we'll give a 15 per cent bonus as part of the recycling of that asset, which will lead to more infrastructure, including, I suspect, the M80 final upgrade, so, really, the Senate and the Labor Party, particularly, in Canberra, should get out of the way of what is an important initiative, which will deliver new greenfield infrastructure to make Melbourne and Victoria a better place to live.

Question: Can I just ask you quickly on something else. Are you surprised by some of the number plate combinations that people are trying to come up with?

Terry Mulder: Surprised and somewhat disappointed that someone would even put forward some of the suggestions that are sexist, that—that I would say, for the towns and communities where these people are proposing that these number plates will be displayed on their cars, that members of that community will be very disappointed to see those sort of number plates, if they were approved by VicRoads, floating around on cars. Some of them send very serious messages as a relation to speeding and—and they're against our agenda, in terms of better road safety, so I say more strength of the arm for VicRoads for refusing to issue those plates.

Question: Premier, can I just ask this: George Brandis has suggested that sporting events may be a target for terrorists, given the heightened risk at the moment. Are you concerned about the AFL final?

Denis Naphine: We are very confident in the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police and the actions being taken by all levels of Government, in dealing with safety and security. So I think I'd better leave it at that, but we're confident the levels of safety and security being imposed by both Federal and State authorities and, particularly, we have great confidence in the Victorian Police.

Question: Premier, will the Liberal Party be running ads about the difference between the two major parties [indistinct]?

Denis Naphine: Well, I think the Liberal Party, as we lead up to the election, will be running strong ads, highlighting the achievements of our Government, the achievements of a Government who've got a AAA budget, the achievements of our Government, who are investing in services and investing in infrastructure and improving the quality of life for all Victorians, compared to the opposition, who are just negative naysayers and flip flop on every major issue.

Question: Starting tonight, or when do they start?

Denis Naphine: You'll find out in due course.