Transcript of Interview with David Speers, Sky New Australia, PM Agenda
26 September 2013
Subjects: Infrastructure Developments Under the New Government
David Speers: Jamie Briggs - Minister, welcome to the program, good to have you with us. Let's start with your new portfolio. We heard a lot from Tony Abbott during the election campaign about being a Prime Minister for infrastructure, and roads for the 21st century. The main criticism of the new Government's approach when it comes to infrastructure and roads spending is that it is very heavily focused on roads, and not on public transport.
Do you think that's a - is that an accurate description?
Jamie Briggs: Well we're focused on roads because that's where we think the best outcome for the Federal Government money can be achieved. And…
David Speers: And what's that outcome that you're aiming for? What's the point?
Jamie Briggs: We want to get cities moving. People are sick of sitting in traffic jams, and sick of hearing people—politicians particularly, talk about infrastructure, but not actually deliver infrastructure.
If you look at the stimulus package the previous Government put in place, only 14 per cent of it was dedicated to productive infrastructure. Improving out cities' infrastructure needs improves our productivity, it improves our work/family balance—so rather than people sitting in traffic snarls, they can be home watching SKY News at night with their family. That's what we want to get out. We want our cities to move better than what they are today, we want people to see actual outcomes rather than lots of discussion.
David Speers: Well, and everybody shares that goal I'm sure, and particularly watching SKY News at night. But isn't there an argument that investing more in public transport would help deliver that aim, because there has been a big rise over the last decade in the number of people using public transport, and yet not a comparable funding increase for public transport?
Jamie Briggs: Well public transport's an issue with—states governments traditionally looked after, and that will continue to be the case, I'm sure. And it's horses for courses…
David Speers: I mean on that argument, there's a lot of things, whether it's health or education, or disability services, that the Federal Government now has moved into.
Jamie Briggs: Indeed, yeah.
David Speers: So there is a point, isn't there, where you're going to have to look at public transport as well.
Jamie Briggs: Well look, if we didn't have $400 billion of gross debt, things would be easier to consider. But that's the record that we've got to deal with, we've got a massive debt burden which Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann are going to have to address, as part of the lead economic ministers.
David Speers: Sure, but you are spending billions on roads…
Jamie Briggs: We are, absolutely.
David Speers: …and not public transport. So, there's money there to spend, is the point.
Jamie Briggs: Well that's the priority we…sure. Well and the priority we put to the Australian people two and a half weeks ago in a nationwide survey was that that's what we would do if we were elected. And the Australian people supported that agenda, and what now we have to do, and I'm very conscious of this, working to the Deputy Prime Minister achieving what the Prime Minister wants, which is to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, we have to get results.
And working with premiers like Barry O'Farrell who are dedicated to delivering infrastructure projects like WestConnex, we will get results. I will work day and night to ensure that Tony Abbott is seen as the infrastructure Prime Minister by the next time the Australian people get an opportunity to vote.