Doorstop with the Hon Scott Morrison MP, The Hon Peter Dutton MP and Luke Howarth
Luke Howarth MP, Member for Petrie: Good morning everyone. Welcome down to Bridgeman Downs. I'm Luke Howarth the Federal Member for Petrie. It's really great and I welcome this morning the Prime Minister to my electorate here as well as the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and the Minister for Home Affairs and a local member for Dickson, the Hon. Peter Dutton. This morning we're announcing a very important announcement around the Linfield Road Overpass. This overpass has been congested here for far too long. Along with the Member for Dickson Peter Dutton, we've been campaigning to upgrade this overpass for well over 12 months. The State Government has been completely silent on the issue, they're not committing to busting these local transport congestion issues and it really is important that these roads are fixed for local people. So, pleased to have all of you here and I'll hand over to the Prime Minister to announce the details.]
Prime Minister: Thanks very much Luke it's tremendous to be here with Peter and the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to announce yet another project which is about congestion-busting in our cities. But also, boosting our investment right across Queensland for important infrastructure projects and important transport infrastructure projects. Already we've got $2 billion down as a Government for infrastructure projects here in Queensland and we continue to wait on the Queensland State Government to put in their share. There's over $1.2 billion that we're waiting on from the Queensland State Government to match the $2 billion we put down for projects like the one I'm just about to announce now.
It's $100 million for the Linfield Road Overpass right here, which is a congestion-busting project which often turns what we see here behind us, into a car park most mornings. It is important that these projects are put in place to bust the congestion and ensure that small businesses that use these roads, that people getting to and from work can get home in time to be with their families, they can leave at reasonable hours to get to work and the pressures of a city that is growing, can be alleviated by investing in the infrastructure.
Now the reason we can invest this $100 million on an 80-20—so we're putting in 80 per cent—80 per cent of the funding, the reason we're able to do that is because we're running a strong economy and we're running a strong Budget. On the 2nd of April next year our Government, the Liberal and National Government will hand down a Budget in surplus for the first time in 12 years. It has been our ability to keep expenditure under control, taxes under control and see the economy grow that means we're able to make these important investments in congestion-busting infrastructure here in Brisbane. It's also why we can invest in affordable medicines, in Medicare, in hospitals and schools. I welcome the fact that we've finally been able to get the Queensland State Government on board for our national schools funding deal which will put record funding into Queensland schools. So we welcome that agreement finally coming through. But we've got a real contrast here; while we're investing in the infrastructure Queensland needs, we've got a state government that is investing in a bigger and bigger public service. I mean more desks is not the answer to Queensland's road needs. More roads is the answer to Queensland's road needs and that's why we're investing in this project here, $100 million on an 80-20 basis. We call on the state government to join us, we're still waiting for them to be here on the Pine River to Caloundra section we're still waiting for them on the Gold Coast Light Rail. I mean we're putting serious money down and 80-20, like we are here on this particular project and we need the state government to get control of their budget, which is blowing out with now $7 billion more in a bloating public service, when that money could be going into road infrastructure here. That's where it's needed. More roads, not more desks.
I'm going to hand over to the Deputy Prime Minister, who will talk more about how our infrastructure program is busting congestion in cities and setting states up, like Queensland, where we can get those partnerships in place if they'd only come on board, to ensure that we can take the state forward. Michael?
Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon Michael McCormack: Well thank you Prime Minister and yesterday I was in Parkes in central west New South Wales turning the first sod on the Inland Rail, a 1,700 kilometer corridor of commerce between Brisbane and Melbourne. That's $9.3 billion of investment, $6 million of which is going to go into Queensland. Queensland is the big beneficiary of the record $75 billion spend in the Liberal and National Federal Government is investing right across the nation. Of course this Linkfield Road Overpass duplication announcement today is going to be so important for south east Queensland, so important to the electorates of Petrie and Dickson, so well represented by Luke Howarth and of course Peter Dutton. Good local members making sure that they have listened to the needs and wants and expectations of their local constituents and they're delivering, delivering in spades, delivering a congestion-busting program that is going to see people be able to get to the Gympie arterial road, to the Bruce Highway, wherever they want to get, they're going to be able to get there quicker when this duplication happens. So we call on the state Labor government here in Queensland to also get on board, to provide 20 per cent of the funding. We're stumping up 80 per cent. We believe that's necessary because we want to get people home sooner and safer, that's what our $75 billion investment right across the nation means for Australian people. It is getting people home sooner and safer. It is making sure that we address the freight task, the logistics task that this great nation has. So for these people here in Brisbane, for the constituents of Peter Dutton and Luke Howarth, this is going to mean such a difference to them, to be able to get to—as the Prime Minister has just said—home to their families, to their workplaces, but doing it quicker, doing it safer. That's what it's all about. I'd like to ask Peter Dutton also if he'd like to make comments.
Minister for Home Affairs, The Hon Peter Dutton: DPM thank you very much, Luke, firstly thank you very much for having us here in your electorate in Petrie and to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, thank you very much for your support. This is a big day for the local residents here in Petrie and in Dickson. This is an announcement that will change peoples' lives and the way in which they commute to work and back home in the afternoon. Just behind me, on any day you can see traffic banked up, for kilometers back. People who come from Warner or Eagles Hill will sit in their cars on some days for much longer than they need to. This $100 million announcement today is going to change the way in which they drive to work and come home. It will reduce the amount of time they need to spend in their cars. I want to say thank you very much to Luke Howarth in particular, who has been a champion for this project, together we've worked very closely gathering signatures to demonstrate to the state government that there is a definite need. Why the Palaszczuk Government hasn't yet recognized that this is a worthy project to invest in, is beyond me. You only need to talk to local residents who are stuck bumper-to-bumper in traffic each morning where the two lanes go down to one. If the State Government was listening to those local constituents, this probably would have been built by now. So I hope today the $100 million announcement from our Government says to the State Government that we need your 20 per cent and this project will get underway as soon a possible. It is going to make a big difference in the lives of local constituents. In a big way, it's Luke Howarth's hard work and I want to say thank you again to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister for their support. There were a lot of competing road projects around the country but this has been identified as a priority in our area. I'm very proud that we've been able to work really hard, over a long period of time and to deliver this for our local community. Thank you very much.
Prime Minister: Well thanks Peter and congratulations to you and to Luke. Our entire Queensland team of LNP members in the federal Parliament really do work together as a team and they identify the priorities that are needed for road infrastructure right across the state. So Peter and Luke don't just have the support obviously of myself and the Deputy Prime Minister in pursuing this project, they have the support of their entire LNP federal team who are backing in this project as well. Because as a team of LNP members, they are putting Queenslanders first, they are putting Queensland first and they're backing that in with their shared support for each of these projects. So well done Luke and well done Pete. Happy to take some questions.
Journalist: Prime Minister I want to ask about the federal corruption watchdog.
Prime Minister: Yep, why don't we focus on road projects first and I'm happy to deal with any other political issues as you like. But particularly with both Luke and Peter here –
Journalist: Questions about the road, in terms of the State Government funding, is someone actively then approaching either the state member or the State Government to actually start to talk about this?
Prime Minister: Absolutely, Luke do you might want to comment on that?
Member for Petrie: Thanks Michelle that's a good question. Back the February this year, I wrote to Mark Bailey about the importance of the Linkfield Road for all the people of Bald Hills, Bracken Ridge and Carseldine and up in Peter's electorate. I haven't had a response from the Minister, the State Minister yet, but he's well aware of the situation. He was out here yesterday with the Member for Pine Rivers looking at the area, I saw him down here. So perhaps he is aware and you can put those questions to him. So this isn't something new. He knows it needs to be built and we'd ask him to get on board as quickly as possible so we can build it.
Journalist: What area, like the length, whereabouts is this duplication going to go to and from?
Member for Petrie: Particularly the overpass right near Bunnings at Carseldine here, we know that's where the bottleneck is in particular, where it goes back to two lanes. So we've had the overpass along Telegraph Road that the Brisbane City Council and the former State Government built. But this bridge here over Gympie Road is an absolute priority. In many ways the State Government should be funding the lot. But the Federal Government, because of our growing economy and because of the need for local people, have stumped up 80 per cent, so I don't think it's too much to get 20 per cent.
Journalist: Where will it actually end? Like it will link up to the overpass but will it go to this intersection?
Member for Petrie: Yeah, it'll come right through to here so you get clear traffic flow, four lanes, two lanes in each direction. $100 million of course is a lot of money. We've also finished construction at Boundary Road overpass, which was $100 million in total. That was 80 per cent, $80 million federal and 20 per cent state, federal, $20 million state. Up there we've got a new six lane bridge, two lanes each way with two turning lanes. Next year, the Deception Bay overpass starts in June. Once again, $120 million as the Prime Minister will be aware, coming up and announcing that funding that will start in June next year. And so now, we've got additional funding for this third overpass here and of course, Peter Dutton was instrumental in getting the on-and-off ramps at Murrumba Downs, in Griffith where the Federal Government has put $120 million on the table there. We're still yet to hear anything from the State Government on that as well, so they really need to get their act together.
Prime Minister: Any other questions on infrastructure? I should stress again that the reason we can do this is because of the strong Budget. I mean, when you're in Queensland blowing your budget out, by another billion dollars on the public service, I mean, this is the pressure that the Queensland Government has put on themselves. Which means that they're letting Queenslanders down by not coming forward and putting in their contributions to all of these projects.
I mean they've got a coal-fired public service here; they are taking all the royalties that are coming out of an industry that they decry, and what it's basically doing is bloating the public service and not putting the money where it really needs to be, which is into roads and infrastructure.
So we want to see them get control of their Budget. But it's a reminder that Labor just can't manage money. They're no different at a federal level under Bill Shorten than they are here in Queensland and that's what you can expect so see; money going to the wrong things, while infrastructure priorities like this don't get the attention they need.
Journalist: Prime Minister, the anti-corruption watchdog federally. Why have an anti-corruption watchdog if it can't make corruption findings?
Prime Minister: Because it's job is to be an investigative body and prepare a brief of evidence to provide to the DPP, so that charges can be laid and prosecutions can be pursued. I mean the whole point is to actually—where people have engaged in criminal conduct—that they get held to account and the book gets thrown at them. There's no point in having a kangaroo court just issuing press releases. What you need is an investigative body with teeth, that actually can pull together and investigate, put a brief together. I mean, Peter knows all about this as a former policeman; this what is we're giving them the powers to do, to actually hunt this stuff down, deal with it and see people brought to justice over these things, not to engage in some sort of political stunt. This is a serious body with a serious job and serious resources to do it.
And I note the comments the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Labor Party was making yesterday. This will apply to any criminal conduct, whether it's occurring now, or has occurred previously, if that conduct was a crime at that time. So the idea that it won't deal with, you know, the actions of this government, or former governments, the government that Bill Shorten was a part of, of course there were all those issues that arose at that time—if there's any criminal conduct, that was a crime at that time, well, of course that wouldn't escape the attention of the body we put in place either.
So, you know, I thought that the press conference from Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus proved yesterday that Bill Shorten's got the worst lawyer in the country. I've got the best one in Christian Porter and I think that was on show yesterday.
Journalist: So the former New South Wales Corruption Commissioner said the public is entitled to know what the court is doing, that is why they hold public meetings, public hearings. You said it should be the same with anti-corruption body, so why do you say otherwise, that it should happen in closed door sessions.
Prime Minister: Well, I'm from New South Wales and I've lived through what has been the farce of the New South Wales ICAC. At the end of the day, the New South Wales ICAC has, I think, disappointed, because it just became a vehicle for corporates, for bureaucrats, for politics—politicians and others—just to sling mud around. That wasn't elevating or doing anything about improving public administration. That's why this will run like a police force. It will actually investigate crimes and ensure that crimes and those who perpetrate them, are brought to justice. That's its job. It's not there to provide a sort of a ‘Judge Judy’ daily episode.
Journalist: How do you know it is doing those things if it is all happening behind closed doors?
Prime Minister: By getting results, by people getting charged, by prosecutions being pursued. Because that's what we do, we're serious about law enforcement in this country. We have demonstrated that. We have demonstrated our seriousness about ensuring that criminals get no truck here in Australia. That's why Peter and I cancelled 3,000 visas of criminals and sent them home. Our record as a Government, as a Liberal and National Government is that there's no quarter given to criminals under our Government. This new body will ensure that that record is continued.
Journalist: How does the concept of private inquiries sit in what is meant to be an open and transparent democratic process?
Prime Minister: It works the same way that any criminal investigation is undertaken. I mean police don't conduct investigations in that way. They just get on with the job, they prepare a brief, people are charged, it goes to court and if it's able to be proven in court, people go to jail. That's how it works.
Journalist: We're talking about elected representatives.
Prime Minister: Yeah, they're subject to the same justice as anyone else in this country. So they should be.
Journalist: What's your reaction to the Productivity Commission's reports that urge you to abolish the Department of Veterans Affairs?
Prime Minister: Well on veterans, we've been working incredibly hard. We've got the number of days it takes for veterans claims to be dealt with significantly reduced, about five-fold, over the last few years. Because we have investing in the system at veterans affairs. Veterans Affairs does a very important job for our veterans. We want to see our veterans respected and we want to ensure that the benefits that are there to support them when they come back home after they've finished their service, can assist them to adjust to civilian life. That's why we've announced programs recognising their service, by the compact agreement which is getting them into jobs and working with corporates to get them into jobs, as well as ensuring they can get simple discounts from anything from a cup of coffee and their dry-cleaning to something more substantial. We have put in a comprehensive program to support veterans in this country, to make sure they get the respect they deserve and there is a culture of respect for veterans were we thank them for their service. So the Productivity Commission will make recommendations from time to time, but what is most important to me is that veterans get the support and the benefits and respect they deserve. Any decisions taken by our Government will have that as it's top priority.
Journalist: Prime Minister, Gary Spence the LNP leader, is reportedly going to resign today. How do you feel about that, will you be sorry to see him go, given he had a hand in the leadership spill? You've obviously become Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: Well to my knowledge, he's not made that announcement at this point in time so I think that's all a bit premature.
Thanks very much.