Transcript of Joint Press Conference, Darlington Site Office, Mark Oliphant Building, 5 Laffers Street, Bedford

Interview

BPC016/2015

29 March 2015

E&OE

Jamie Briggs: It's great to be here this morning with Stephen Mullighan and the Darlington project team importantly, who've put together this new revised plan for the Darlington Project, which is funded 80 per cent by the Federal Government, and the remainder funded by the South Australian Government. And it was part of our budget initiative last year to get infrastructure moving in Australia. This is a very important part of the Abbott Government agenda. We want jobs on the ground, we want improved productivity performance in our country and these projects here, Torrens to Torrens, which we funded 50 per cent with the state Government, and 80 per cent funding here in Darlington, are projects which will help improve Australia's economy through job creation, through improved productivity. Yesterday we saw the people of New South Wales endorse the infrastructure agenda. Today we're getting on further here, with more projects, more developments, more jobs and a better Australia. So, it's great to be here with Stephen. We want work on this underway, we want people to be enjoying the benefits, and I'll let Stephen say the rest.

Stephen Mullighan: Alright, well thanks very. Very happy to be here with Jamie today announcing a revised project design for the Darlington Project. This is a very important project for Adelaide's north-south corridor. This will not only reduce travel times for people travelling in this part of our metropolitan area, but importantly for the first time, under this revised design, will give people the opportunity to access the north-south corridor and be free from traffic lights. Traffic coming in from Main South Road, traffic coming in from Flagstaff Road, will be able to access this corridor and avoid traffic lights, particularly at Sturt Road. We look forward to delivering this project. We will commence construction before the end of this year. And we'll complete this project before the end of 2018, which of course is also the time frame by which we'll complete the Torrens to Torrens project. This is a project which supports over 300 jobs each year during construction. This is important not just for our transport network but it's an important contribution to the South Australian economy.

Reporter: What are the jobs benefits and the economic benefits during the construction phase?

Stephen Mullighan: Well, we've seen with the Southern Expressway duplication, we had approximately 90 per cent of the workers working on that project who were South Australian, and we're looking for the same sorts of outcomes here with the Darlington Project. And importantly, not just were 90 per cent from South Australia, but over 60 per cent were from the southern suburbs. So, great regional benefits for different parts of Adelaide but also a really important contribution to the South Australian economy by getting South Australian workers working on these jobs.

Reporter: How much time will this save commuters in the morning, in peak hour?

Stephen Mullighan: So, we estimate that this section will save commuters approximately two minutes in each direction. That's an important time saving off really what is about 2.3 kilometres of road. And, of course, once we work through over the next ten years, further improvements to the north-south corridor, we'll see those travel time savings continue to accumulate. People moving from the southern parts of the city to the north, or from the north to the south, will have really substantial improvements to their travel time.

Reporter: Why are there changes to the design?

Stephen Mullighan: We've had a fairly long and very involved community consultation process. Many of the communities on either side of the project told us that they wanted better access to the north-south non-stop section of this project and we've accommodated that. This is a really important improvement for the people who live in our southern suburbs, people who live up in the hill at Aberfoyle Park and those sorts of regions. They'll now be able to come down roads like Flagstaff Road and also Main South Road and take advantage of this project and improve their travel times. So, this has been a really valuable process for us to talk directly with the community, and we look forward to continuing to do that as we roll our projects out.

Reporter: Obviously, they're going to have a better road at the end of it, but it looks like about two years worth, or more, of traffic problems that they're going to have while you're actually building this.

Stephen Mullighan: We'll work very closely with a contractor to make sure that we can keep lanes open during the period of construction. We're also improving the network in the surrounds of this project as well, so later on this year we'll be going out to market to conduct a very significant upgrade to the Marion Road Sturt Road intersection. And that's just one example of how we can alleviate the pressure which may be placed on commuters from these works. But we think by the end of this project there will be a really substantial benefit for people who use this road everyday.

Reporter: But you won't be looking to do the work on those two—Marion and this in tandem. They'll be happening at different times?

Stephen Mullighan: Sure, so what we've done with the Torrens to Torrens project, for example, is already get going on some of the improvements around the network. Jamie and I recently announced the widening of Park Terrace and Fitzroy Terrace. We've previously announced the widening of James Congdon and also improvements to Richmond Road and South Road. We get those works out of the way before the major construction of the intersections begins and that way the network around the project area is freer flowing and better for commuters and we can alleviate some of the congestion that we otherwise might experience.

Jamie Briggs: An experience in Western Australia for instance, in Perth, has been where the work is underway the outcome, on what is known as the Gateway Project, the actual outcome for commuters has been better with the traffic management than what it was previously, with the traffic jams and so forth. So, you can actually manage this in a way which improves the traffic outcome even under construction.

Reporter: Do you have much of a role now, the Feds, or is it mainly a state responsibility?

Jamie Briggs: Well, we hand over a lot of money and we hope that they do a good job with it. Luigi and his team are impressive people and they've done good work in the past. And we want them to do this work. We want them to do it quickly. We want this project underway as soon as we possibly can. I know the Torrens project's not far away from beginning, but these job creation benefits need to happen now. That's why we're funding these projects so heavily.

Reporter: Just on jobs, obviously the south has been hit pretty hard by the declining manufacturing sector. Is this kind of part of the plan to boost jobs in the southern areas?

Jamie Briggs: Well, obviously we want South Australia to do better. Every indicator at the moment says that South Australia's not doing as well as it should, and that's why the Federal Government is working to invest in infrastructure, and reduce business compliance, to get rid of unnecessary taxes and create a stronger economy, particularly here in Adelaide. We want South Australia to do better.

Reporter: Can I just pick up on one other thing you said earlier? You were saying that the result in the New South Wales election endorses an infrastructure agenda. Does it really though? Because there was a pretty hard swing against the Liberal Party even though they're still in power.

Jamie Briggs: Well, it was the second worst result in the history of New South Wales politics which has been going on for a very long time for the Labor Party last night. They got back a small amount of what they lost in their worst result in 2011. Mike Baird faced a ferocious, disgraceful, scare campaign by a union movement who did everything they could to try and unseat him, and he won. He won with an endorsement, with a strong majority, with our second strongest result ever in New South Wales political history. It's a very good result.

Reporter: Just on that, my understanding is that the primary votes were very similar to what we've seen in South Australia and yet the Liberal Party was able to win. Do you think that's a sign that we need electoral reform here in South Australia?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I know some of my state colleagues point at this as something that should be looked at. I'm not quite as convinced. We live in a two party system. In the end, the two party system is based on the number of seats in the Parliament. It's not based on a figure that is put together post the election result. We need to win seats in the city here in Adelaide. We don't have strong regional centres. One of the things that is a difference in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland is that you've got Labor vote in regional centres, which we don't have here, by and large. We basically win the country here. So it skews, if you like, the 2PP result. We have to win in the city. We haven't won in the city the last three elections. That's the lesson for the Liberal Party here.

Reporter: What about bringing in optional preferential voting?

Jamie Briggs: Well, I think in the end, if you're going to win the election, you're going to win the election, whether it's optional preferential or full preferential, you will find a way to win. What Mike Baird did last night was find a way to win.

Reporter: What about this issue of a mandate now for the state New South Wales Liberal Party to go ahead with their electricity sector reforms. Do you think the upper house should just get out of the way and let them do that?

Jamie Briggs: Well, it's not so much getting out of the way, but they should listen to the message from the people. I mean, it couldn't have been a clearer scare campaign that was run against this. I don't know if you all saw the ads that were running in New South Wales, but they were despicable. “The Chinese are coming to take your jobs and take your electricity network away.” That was the message that was being sent by the unions and endorsed by Mr Foley. People rejected that. People voted for Mike Baird and now what they should do is let him get on with the agenda that he took to the election. There'll be multiple billions of dollars spent on infrastructure because of Mike Baird's plan. He is, I think, the leading Premier in the country. He's got a plan; he's got a well thought through infrastructure agenda. It's a pleasure to deal with him from the Federal Government's perspective, because we're on the same page. We want to create jobs, we want to create a stronger economy and New South Wales is leading the way. That's why he was reelected.

Reporter: Can I just ask one more quick question? How did you take into account Transforming Health and the increased role that Flinders will be playing in terms of, you know- did this have to change at all now that we're now, you know, seeing more ambulances coming to Flinders?

Stephen Mullighan: Well, regardless of any reform which is occurring in the health sector, what we did want to do is provide the best possible access to the Flinders Medical Centre and to Flinders University. And this project does that, it does that a lot better than what we had in the previous design, where traffic coming from both Main South Road and also from the Southern Expressway really only has one intersection to negotiate now before it can get to Flinders Medical Centre and also to the university. So, that's a very good thing. Really, overall though this very significant change between the previous design and the project now is that before we were basically extending the Southern Expressway to run parallel alongside the existing Main South Road. This revised design will see over 70 per cent of the traffic now onto the non-stop north south corridor with only about 30 per cent of the traffic to remain on the Main South Road's service roads. That will provide a really substantial benefit for people who are accessing local communities, getting into the local businesses, getting home. That'll mean much less traffic for them to contend with and will be funneling a lot more traffic onto a purpose-built, purpose-designed non-stop corridor, and that's a fantastic thing for commuters in this part of Adelaide.

Reporter: Can I also just get your response to calls for electoral reform given the result in New South Wales?

Stephen Mullighan: Well, I think there's been a lot of calls in South Australia for electoral reform and in my experience they tend to come from parties which haven't made the most of the opportunity to front the voters and seek election into seats, so obviously people will be making their own personal views and their own personal solutions about electoral reform in South Australia. But we went to the last state election promising to continue building South Australia. We've been doing that in the southern suburbs with the extension and the electrification of the Noarlunga line out to Seaford. We've done that with the reduplication of the Southern Expressway and we're now doing that in partnership with the Federal Government with the Darlington Project. We look forward to continue rolling these sorts of projects out as we promised South Australians at the last election.