Interview with Tim Shaw, 2CC Breakfast Canberra

Tim Shaw: It's a busy time for the Federal Government. Scott Morrison, the Prime Minster, is moving from community to community to talk to Queenslanders about what the Morrison-McCormack Government are doing. Michael McCormack is the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia,

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, and he's in Rockhampton today. He'll join the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Michelle Landry this morning: A big announcement for Rockhampton and I'm pleased to say that Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, is on the line. Deputy Prime Minister, welcome back to 2CC Breakfast.

Michael McCormack: Great to be on the line, Tim. How are you, mate?

Tim Shaw: Very good. Big announcement for Rockhampton: tell us all about it.

Michael McCormack: What we're announcing today is a commitment of $800 million to build this long awaited, eagerly anticipated Rockhampton Ring Road, a new four lane corridor of the Bruce Highway to reduce travel times and congestion whilst taking trucks off local streets. Michelle Landry, the Member for Capricornia, has fought for this ever since she got into Parliament in the 2013. The ring road is going to deliver a new Bruce Highway link west of the city, connecting the key access roads. It's a good announcement and I'm very pleased to be up here in very warm Rockhampton to make that announcement this morning.

Tim Shaw: It's critically important and the Morrison-McCormack Government has been striving to make it clear to Australians that the balancing of this budget—and we know that Treasurer Frydenberg with his Mid-Year Economic Review will certainly be hoping to say: yes, we can get into surplus, '19–'20—but how important is a balanced budget to being able to fund this major infrastructure programs, Deputy Prime Minister?

Michael McCormack: It is critical. You've got to spend money to make money and this project is going to provide safety outcomes, which is so important, but it's also going to ease congestion, also help that key corridor for trucks to get their goods to market, to get their goods to destinations sooner. It's critical that we have the right infrastructure right across the nation, in Queensland and elsewhere. You know how important it is in and around where you live. We all do. We all rely on good infrastructure, and one of the key sticking points of infrastructure in the past has been the congestion. It's a problem that we're endeavouring to address, and whether that's in capital cities, whether that's indeed making sure that the freight task—which is expected to double in the not so distant future—that those issues are addressed through regional and rural infrastructure. That's what we're getting on and doing and that's what we're announcing this morning.

Tim Shaw: Well, you've cut the red tape. You've made it easier for transport around the nation with the cutting of these permits, that interruption, Michael McCormack, to the flow of the economy because every time a truckie has got to apply for the permit, it's man hours. You've saved millions of man and women hours in the trucking and transport industry by cutting that permit red tape.

Michael McCormack: Indeed we have and I've got to give a compliment to Scott Buchholz in that regard. Certainly, when those issues about loads too wide and loads too high came into the fray with the cutting drought with much needed drought relief fodder from one State to the next, he was quick to act. We fixed that within a week. That's what you get when you get good Government. That's what you do when you get people who have experience in the industry as Scott Buchholz does.

Tim Shaw: I'll tell you what you're doing. You're taking up the challenge I gave you at the National Press Club. You were Acting Prime Minister, you addressed the…

Michael McCormack: Yes, it's all your doing, Tim, I've got to say. Well done to you, mate.

Tim Shaw: I'll tell you what, my listeners may have forgotten that I said to you: You've got to walk a mile and you've got to drive a mile in a truck driver's shoes; and of course as Transport and Regional Development Minister, you know how important the trucking industry is to the Australian economy. Tell my listeners what you're doing in the next 48 hours because you and I will catch up again on Thursday for a full report, won't we?

Michael McCormack: Yes, looking forward to it. I'm jumping in the rig being driven by Ben Maguire, who's the CEO of the Australian Trucking Association, from Kilmore to Melbourne. So that should be a good little ride with 30 bales of wool on the back. It's the ATA's safety vehicle but you put the challenge to me and I accepted it during my Press Club speech. It's not been that long since I've been in a truck but it'll be good to get back in the passenger seat to just talk to Ben, who's very experienced in the industry, to see the sorts of issues that they're talking about, listening and observing conditions first-hand. My father was a truck driver and a farmer so I spent quite a bit of time with him growing up, but it's going to be really good, as the Transport and Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister to, this afternoon, get in the cabin of a heavy vehicle and see first-hand just the conditions of the road, to listen to truckies, of course, on the two-way and to do all those sorts of things. That'll be good. Looking forward to it.

Tim Shaw: Very important. You remember that only regret of yours is that you didn't get your heavy vehicle driver's licence. There is still time, Deputy Prime Minister.

Michael McCormack: Yes, there is still time but my time is critical these days, flying here, there and everywhere and indeed on public transport and in trucks and in cars—I get around the countryside. It's a big task of course, in the Morrison Government, making sure that we roll out that infrastructure, that $75 billion of record infrastructure. There's a lot of announcements to be made, a lot of members to be seen right across the country, and not just Coalition members: I like to hear the concerns of those on the other side of the Parliament as well because we all have an input, we all have a stake in making sure that we get everyone home sooner and safer. So whether it's light rail, whether it's the Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane, whether it's trucks: We want to make sure that our freight task issues are addressed. It's a big job, but as you say it's important that I get behind these sorts of industries. I'll be looking forward to the time with Ben Maguire over the next day or so to see exactly some of the issues that he's encountering and some of the issues that he wants addressed.

Tim Shaw: Thanks so much for your time. Say g'day to the Prime Minister and Michelle Landry and well done on this $800 million announcement there for the ring road.

Michael McCormack: It's a good announcement. Thanks, Tim. Thanks for your interest…

Tim Shaw: Well done.

Michael McCormack: … and I look forward to talking to you very, very soon.

Tim Shaw: Thank you. Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, there at Rocky's Own Transport with the Prime Minister, Michelle Landry. An $800 million plus announcement for that Rockhampton Ring Road and making it safer on the Bruce Highway.