Transcript of Joint Press Conference



16 October 2014

Joint Press Conference with Hon Stephen Mullighan MP SA Minister for Transport and Infrastructure
Subjects: Tender call for early works on North-South Corridor, acquisition of future submarines/tender process.

Jamie Briggs: Well, thank you for all being here. Today we're announcing another stage in the Torrens to Torrens Project, another set of early works, designed to make the broader construction of the project easier for motorists to deal with. Of course, there'll be quite a deal of disruption on the Torrens section of the South Road in the coming months and years with this work.

This announcement today really is the early stages of that work; we're getting on with it. This will create jobs; it will create the circumstances for the bigger project to go ahead. We've met today about the Darlington Project as well; it's moving along. This is a good example of the Federal and State Government working to build the infrastructure that we need for a stronger economy, for more jobs and for a better country. That's what the Abbott Government is committed to, and we're very pleased to be working with Stephen Mullighan and Jay Weatherill in delivering it.

Stephen Mullighan: We're very pleased today to be announcing this $8.8 million dollar package of works to duplicate James Congdon Drive. It's the section of road between South Road and Sir Donald Bradman Drive, the road that passes by the Mile End Bunnings that people would be familiar with. This will provide a significant improvement in traffic movements around the inner western suburbs. Again this is the third significant package of works on the Torrens to Torrens Project.

This will be a great opportunity for local contractors to win work as we've seen with the Ashwin Parade works and also the South Road/Richmond Road works. This is a great outcome for the local economy; great outcome in the longer term for an improved road transport network around Adelaide.

Question: How are negotiations going with residents along the section that are being booted out?

Stephen Mullighan: Yeah. Look, we are continuing to acquire properties both at Torrens to Torrens and Darlington. We're getting very close to finalising all the property acquisitions in the Torrens to Torrens project in the order of 180 properties. My advice is that we're down to the last, about, 20. We're making sure that we're doing all we can to accommodate their future needs and give them fair compensation and we're looking forward to working with those families, we look forward to working with those residents, to make sure that we accommodate them as best we can into the future.

Question: Minister, have any been short changed because that's certainly the concern of many along there that they just haven't been paid a fair price?

Stephen Mullighan: Look, as I've said from the outset, this is this most disruptive thing that anyone could ask another person to do, to move their home, to disrupt their lives, to ask them to find somewhere new to live. We know that the onus is on government to make sure that we are as accommodating as possible. We need to make sure not only are we compensating them fairly for the value of their home but also compensating them appropriately for all of the money that they spend on getting legal advice, getting valuation advice, as well as all of the moving costs, all of the stamp duty that they may need to incur into the future, to make sure they can move house. Yes, it is taking us some time to work with some people but we are absolutely dedicated to making sure we do everything we possibly can to help these people through what is a very difficult time for them.

Question: What's the total cost of that process likely to be?

Stephen Mullighan: Look, I don't have a final figure on that but I'll see if we can get that for you and give that to you.

Question: Do you believe there should be an open tender process for the construction of submarines?

Jamie Briggs: This is a project which will follow the normal processes of a Federal Government. Nothing will be different to what any other government would have done as far as a major defence acquisition. It will go through what's called a two pass cabinet process. It will ensure we get the best defence outcome for our country. It is a bit rich, I must say, for the Labor Party, who were in government for six years, who put off this decision, risking Australia's defence capabilities in the coming decade with what is arguably our most important defence asset, to now be claiming that we should have an open tender process when they wouldn't have done it. They didn't do it with any other major defence acquisition. The hypocrisy of Labor Party is breathtaking on this. It really is. You've got Stephen Conroy, Senator Stephen Conroy, this is the man who said the NBN would cost $4.7 billion, $21 billion, $40 billion and $70 billion and it cost, in the end, nearly $100 billion when Malcolm Turnbull was able to do a genuine audit of it. We are not going to take lectures from Stephen Conroy on a major defence acquisition. Just as we won't take lectures from Wayne Swan on how to deliver a budget surplus.

Question: So, you don't believe a tender process is necessary?

Jamie Briggs: Well, there's a process which is what the defence department normally follows, which involves a two pass cabinet process for every major defence acquisition. It is making the best defence decision for our country's future. We have a tight timetable because we had six years of inertia from a Labor government that cut money from defence and we are following a proper process. People can look at this and make claims all they like. In the end, we are following a normal process: this is nothing different. If it was such a good idea, why didn't the Labor Party do it?

Question: Is the rhetoric from Senator Johnston, in particular, and I guess his actions today and this week, is it running along the similar lines of the situation with Holden? The government is talking down the local business to the point that it appears impossible to do business with them?

Jamie Briggs: Not at all. The ASC is a world class submarine operation; a world class ship operation. We have absolute faith in the ASC. We are not talking down the ASC. What we're talking about here is…

Question: Senator Johnston is frequently talking down the ASC.

Jamie Briggs: Well, the government does not talk down the ASC; we own the ASC. It makes no sense to talk down the ASC. Sure, there were some problems with the AWD program, and those problems are being worked through to get a better outcome for taxpayers, but we have faith in the workers at the ASC. The one assurance we can give about the submarines programme through this whole process, is that there will be much more work for the ASC out of this next generation of submarines, than what there is now. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

Question: Do you have confidence in Senator Johnston?

Jamie Briggs: Absolutely.

Question: And just while you're here, your fellow Hills dweller, Isobel Redmond, what do you make of her latest contribution to Parliament?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I think Isobel obviously has her own reasons to express the concerns she expressed. I wasn't part of the conversation, so I don't know whether they'd occurred or not, but I can say Isobel is an authentic person, who's very direct, and you always know where you stand with Isobel, and I've always found her to be very honest.

Question: Do you think she's become a liability for the Liberal Party?

Jamie Briggs: Look, as someone who lives in her seat, and who frequents the same community as part of my electorate, which is part of—which is her electorate—I can tell you that she's one of the most popular politicians anywhere across the country.

Question: You were a beneficiary of generational change in the Hills seat, and do you think it's time for generational change in Heysen?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I think Isobel's indicated that at the next election she's unlikely to continue, but it'll be a very tough task to replace someone who's contributed as much as she has. Thanks for that.