Transcript of Joint Doorstop

Interview

BPC069/2014

19 September 2014

Joint Doorstop with Mr Craig Laundy,
Federal Member for Reid
and Charles Casuscelli,
NSW Member for Strathfield
E&OE

Jamie Briggs: It's great to be here with the King of Reid and Charles, of course, and Dennis Cliche, the head of the WestConnex Delivery Authority. This is the second WestConnex geotechnical function we've had this week. Stage 2 Joe Hockey and Mike Baird opened on Monday, as far as the geotechnical work. This is an event to mark the beginning of the geotechnical work on Stage 1.

This work has been underway for a couple of weeks, but it's great to get out here and see what is happening with this geotechnical work, and how important this is as far as our plan to deliver world class infrastructure in New South Wales, alongside the New South Wales Government.

This is a very important project. It will cut traffic times enormously. It will benefit people who live in the western suburbs, and ensure that people can get movement in and out of Australia's biggest and most dominant city quicker and more efficiently. That lifts our productivity— that's why the Federal Government's at the table. It is a vital project. The Parramatta Road, according to the New South Wales Government figures, is heavily congested 14 hours a day. This will help unlock Parramatta Road.

It will lead to community uplift through that part of Sydney. It is a vital part of infrastructure for a growing economy. That's why we're at the table and it is so pleasing to work with Mike Baird and the New South Wales Government; such a terrific government to work with. Craig, do you want to say anything about the project?

Craig Laundy: Yeah, I do, Jamie. I want to thank you for coming today. And look, this project is a game changer for this seat, for the seat of Reid. So for too long the M4 is finished only a couple of hundred metres from here. We're sitting in what we call the Bakehouse Quarter locally and if you come through here, for a vast majority of the day, George Street, Parramatta Road, this next junction up here where the M4 ends, it is absolute gridlock. It feeds back into local roads. The most exciting part of this project for us is the—I mean, if you look at trucks alone, 3000 trucks a day, Charles, will pass underneath us, without getting out on our local arterials.

Jamie Briggs: Yes.

Craig Laundy: The line I like best about this, Jamie, is that it gives local roads back to locals and at the moment you rat run—you do all you can do avoid Parramatta Road. It splits my electorate in two. Two distinct sides. This side we're on now, at the Concord side, and then the Strathfield side. And we dead set don't—we work out ways not to take on Parramatta Road. That's the reality of it. I'm 43 years old. I've lived here for 43 years. It's been a problem in all my driving years, so 18 less 43 I've been driving. It gets worse every year and it's good to have you here, mate, because we need to deliver this with Charles, and make a real difference to the local area.

Jamie Briggs: Great. Thanks mate.

Question: Minister, I just want to say…

Question: Aren't you…

Jamie Briggs: I will let Charles maybe say something. Do you want to say something, mate?

Charles Casuscelli: Look, I've been in the area quite a number of years. I only just confirm what Craig's always saying. I'm actually door knocking the area. We all appreciate there's a state election coming up in 2015. The number one issue in my electorate is traffic congestion and the number one project we will deal with that is the WestConnex. The thing that we're doing right now, which is unfortunately 20 years too late, but thank god we're getting on with it.

Question: Minister, aren't you worried about the timing of this? I mean this whole thing won't be done until 2023, I don't think.

Jamie Briggs: Well, no, we've moved forward with the concessional loan that we gave to the New South Wales Government in the Budget for WestConnex Stage 2. That brings that project forward by 18 months and we're very hopeful that through the process that Dennis and his team are running at the WestConnex authority, that we will have innovation from the private sector in which we will deliver a bigger and better project than what was originally announced and we hopefully, with the New South Wales Government, we will have more to say about that sooner rather and later.

Question: Isn't Stage 1 dependent on developing the cash flow before you get the fund on a cumulative effect to the next stage?

Jamie Briggs: That was the original plan but how we dealt with that (indistinct) is by in the Federal Budget we gave New South Wales or the WestConnex Authority access to $2 billion from the Federal Government on a concessional loan basis which will mean that the need for that cash flow from this part of the project isn't required to get on with the second stage of the project in the first instance. So it's a model.

This is the first time the Federal Government's used a concessional mode for a road project. It is innovation. It's us saying to the states, when you've got productive infrastructure, which will make a difference, lift our national productivity, improve our economy, ensure our prosperity, we will be at the table with innovation whether it be direct grant like we are here, with $1.5 billion, or with innovation and finance as we are in WestConnex Stage 2.

Question: Can I ask how many times this process will be repeated for the geotech along the route?

Dennis Cliche: 100. We're drilling 100 spots along this route we're up for.

Jamie Briggs: And 100 along the M5 too. So there's 200 little holes happening in Sydney the next time.

Question: And will that determine where the stacks are going to go?

Dennis Cliche: No, what this does is it gives a view of what the ground conditions are, the subsurface conditions are. We've put this out to the market and we're asking our tenderers to be innovative, to look at what the results of the drilling are and to come up with the best scenario that minimises the impact of the community, to the environment and gives us our best value for money for the state, the taxpayers of the state.

Question: So doesn't that impact where the exhaust stacks are going to go?

Dennis Cliche: Well, they're going to be looking at what the best solution is, given the ground conditions and of that, the result from that will be there will be stacks on the tunnel. We've said a number of times. It's the exact location of the stacks that is up to the bidders and up to the geotech work.

Jamie Briggs: And that's a part of the process by allowing the process that New South Wales Government's undertaking, which is to encourage innovation through the bid process by having three consortium of world class engineers and constructors look at how—what is the best route, very similar to NorthConnex in the sense that it's not the Government telling the constructor this is what you have to do. It's saying to the constructor, this is the project that we want to live with. You tell us how is the best way to do it.

Question: Can I ask how long it will take to complete these 100 test core drills?

Dennis Cliche: Yes. On average one to two days per site. We have six rigs drilling at the current time. So it would be a matter of a couple of months. When they finish, they pick up and they move to another site.

Jamie Briggs: All right. Thank you very much.