Interview with Ivo Da Silva, ABC Goldfields, Western Australia

Ivo Da Silva: Now the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has started his tour of Western Australia and he popped into Kalgoorlie Boulder and spoke last night with National supporters and colleagues.

The Deputy PM has taken time out of his schedule and joins the show now. Deputy PM, it is Diggers and Dealers Week. Many investors from Australia and around the world have descended into Kalgoorlie Boulder. Why should they invest money in Australia and particularly in the mining sector?

Michael McCormack: Well, because the mining sector is a booming industry and the fact is Australia doesn't have the sovereign risk that other countries carry. And the fact that our mining wealth is brought about because we've got some of the very best mining in the country.

We've got not only staff and employees and experts ready to do it, the actual mining itself, the minerals that we have, are the very best in the world.

But I know even over in the east, where I have the electorate of Riverina in south west New South Wales—mightn’t be familiar to a lot of people out here in the west—but just recently they've uncovered a huge deposit of nickel and cobalt, which is amongst the very best in the world.

And so, that's one of the reasons why there should be very much a lot of investment in mining in Australia.

Ivo Da Silva: Now, the city of Kalgoorlie Boulder are drawing up a business case to explore the development of an intermodal rail facility for Kalgoorlie Boulder. This statement was made at the Growing Kalgoorlie Boulder Economic Development Conference, which was recently held in Perth. As the Infrastructure and Transport Minister, would you and the Government support this proposal?

Michael McCormack: We’re certainly looking forward to having a look at it and I've already—It’s already of course crossed my desk, the reports about it and the change, the transformational change it would bring Kalgoorlie.

Now, I had dinner with Bart Jones, amongst others, last night who talked up the proposal. Of course he's got Hampton Transport. They know, as a transport and logistics company, how important this is.

I appreciate the fact that this is the re-routing of a rail, the construction of an intermodal. Intermodals form such an important part of our logistics network right across the nation and for the communities—regional communities such as Kalgoorlie—they’re just really important.

So I’ll sit down with the stakeholders, local council and all those sorts of people today and into the future and see what we can do, how we could go about it.

We're rolling out $75 billion—a record amount of infrastructure right across the nation—over the next decade. It's an investment pipeline that takes into account these sorts of intermodal projects.

I know how transformational the Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane will be. And look, right up along that 1,700 kilometre corridor of commerce, there are intermodals that—every town wants one and it’s no different here in Kalgoorlie—where an intermodal and the re-routing of that railway, the advantages that would bring. They’re all part of the mix.

Ivo Da Silva: Yes, don’t forget us here in good old Kalgoorlie.

Michael McCormack: Indeed not.

Ivo Da Silva: The Deputy PM, Michael McCormack, is my guest here on ABC. Now, the South Coast Highway between Esperance and Ravensthorpe and the Great Eastern Highway Route 1 are major transport routes for heavy haulage vehicles.

The current state of both roads has come under constant criticism. They are critical for transport purposes. Is there any plans for these roads to be upgraded to a safe standard?


Michael McCormack: Speaking of corridors of commerce, they both are. I mean, the Great Eastern Highway—it’s 590 kilometres and the other one is just as similar in length and you know, they access Kalgoorlie to Perth. They access, as you just mentioned, Esperance and Ravensthorpe. They’re very important routes.

We’ve got a Roads of Strategic Importance initiative. It’s a $3.5 billion fund, $3.5 billion over the next 10 years. That’s for the sorts of roads that these are.

Those 590 kilometre stretches, both of them, and over here in the west they’re really important roads. They’re not necessary national highways, but they’re very important linking roads and in one sense they should be national highways because they cart a lot of traffic. They cart a lot of our agricultural wealth and we need to make sure that they’re kept to a very high standard.

So, it’s all part of the mix. It’s all part of having a look and seeing what we can strategically do to improve those corridors of commerce, those networks which provide so much of the entrepreneurial spirit over here in the west and certainly the commerce that they carry.

Ivo Da Silva: Now Deputy PM, you popped into Kalgoorlie Boulder to speak with Nationals’ supporters last night. What was your message to the party faithful and supporters?

Michael McCormack: Stay strong. I mean, we've got some good candidates coming up into the next the election. I had dinner last night with Nick Fardell. He’s very keen to be a Senator.

Of course I sit with some Liberals too in the parliament and, you know, Nola Marino and Rick Wilson and Melissa Price—they do a fantastic job. Coalition MPs and Coalition Senators in general have been very good for the west.

I’m glad we’ve sorted out the GST. I’m glad that we’re pushing ahead with an infrastructure program that is going to be very, very good for Western Australia. Western Australia is very important to the national interest and as the Infrastructure and Transport Minister I want to make sure that not only do we get National Party representation back in Canberra from over here in the west, but I want to make sure that the Coalition stays strong here in the west.

We certainly have brought about some really good benefits economically. And as I say again, the west is very important in the national interest and that’s why I’m glad to be over here, talking mining, talking infrastructure and meeting with a lot of people.

Ivo Da Silva: Thank you very much for your time and enjoy WA while you’re here.

Michael McCormack: It’s a pleasure. Thanks Ivo. All the best.

Ivo Da Silva: It’s 7.18 on ABC Goldfields and that was the Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Michael McCormack.