Transcript - Grafton Doorstop

KEVIN HOGAN

Look, it’s great to be here in Grafton this morning and great to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Michael McCormack to be here with me and the Mayor Jim Simmons and today’s a great day, exciting day for Grafton because what’s happened quite recently and in fact this week, Michael just signed off and approved the funding for the $6.5 million Grafton Riverside Precinct Upgrade. This is an exciting upgrade for Grafton. This was part of the fact we knew that Grafton with the new highway, which is also being developed at pace, is going to be completely bypassed. So, you know this money is about attracting people to Grafton and it’s about the locals as well but it’s attracting tourists to Grafton. It’s going to be very interactive, very accessible part of the Riverside Precinct here, beautiful Clarence River behind me, you can see how beautiful it is and it’s a great selling point for Grafton and indeed the wider Clarence – indeed a very exciting day.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, thank you Kevin and great to be here with the Clarence Valley Mayor, Jim Simmons and he knows just how beautiful this river is, as does Kevin Hogan. And when you’ve got a beautiful river, when you’ve got the Clarence in all it’s might, in all it’s beauty and you’ve got a wonderful town as well, what you need to do is meld the two together and that’s what we’re doing here with this announcement, with this funding. $6.5 million going to beautify this river precinct. Jim and Kevin both know full-well how much this is going to attract visitors, how much this is going to help locals. Now, I was talking to three visitors this morning, who were going for a very early morning walk and we caught up with them and they said they couldn’t walk the full extent because there were some marshlands and there was some mud there. Well they’re going to be able to walk from right where we are now, right through 3.5-kilometres. They’re going to be able to stop and have a cup of coffee, they’re going to be able to mix with some locals, they’re going to be able to do all those sorts of things. This is going to attract visitors to the area. In the construction phase, it’s going to provide jobs for dozens of people, so we’re looking to a mid-2021 finish. This is going to take some work. It’s going to provide some jobs for locals, as well as local procurement, because anything that the Federal Government does, as far as providing this funding, for these type of projects, provides for jobs, provides for local business to be able to tap into that experience and that opportunity and that’s what we want through the back of COVID-19, is providing those jobs, providing those opportunities for small business.

Clarence Valley is a can-do Council. It’s on board with money of its own, $2 million also towards this project. So overall, it’s a very exciting project, it’s a very exciting day. I’m really looking forward to coming back to Grafton and seeing the progress in-hand, in seeing the finish product. Because locals know, visitors are going to be well-aware of just how much this is going to beautify the riverfront precinct. It’s already a beautiful area. We want to make sure that the aesthetics are even better, that people can stop here, they can picnic here, they can walk along the path, they can do everything that this area has the potential to provide. In the past of course, with the lack of accessibility, that’s going to be fixed. That’s thanks to the can-do Council, the Clarence Valley Council and the Federal Government funding.

JIM SIMMONS

Thank you. This is a fantastic morning, a fantastic announcement of a grant application by the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, $6 million and also the Member for Page, Kevin Hogan. The Clarence Valley, we really appreciate this support and it will be great for tourists, to our area, a great attraction for our tourists and it will be great for the locals throughout the Clarence Valley also.

JOURNALIST

Excuse me, Mayor, can you be more specific with what exactly what will be constructed and where?

JIM SIMMONS

Yes, so, Council has also had to purchase waterfront land along the riverfront here and Council’s contribution in that regard is about $2 million towards the project. You’ll see an extension of the walking path for about probably 2-and-a-half to 3-kilometres, along the waterfront. It’ll make the waterfront a lot more accessible, as referred to by the Deputy Prime Minister. There will be a lot more enhancements to the riverfront.

JOURNALIST

Mayor, can you just touch briefly on the process behind the planning of this? How was it decided? What would be included in the revitalisation?

JIM SIMMONS

Well, Council officers would have put a waterfront improvement plan before Council. It was adopted by councillors and we’ll go from there. It’s been out for community consultation. It’s part of the current year’s budget and planning documents that were Council’s immediate short-term plan, four-year plan and long-term plan that were documents that were out for public consultation during May and it came to council in June for adoption.

JOURNALIST

And finish date mid-2021. When is it going to commence?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, the funding announcement has been made, the funding has been approved. I’ve signed off on those approvals just the other day and we’re not just looking to, obviously tenders will be put out by councils, but work could begin as soon as those tenders come back in. Work could begin within weeks, if not months. We want to get the work started, we want to see the jobs on the ground. We want to see this job finished by around, weather permitting, August 2021, mid that year.

Later today, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Skills and Small Business, Michaelia Cash, the Senator from Western Australia, will be standing up and talking about the Federal Government’s $2 billion JobTrainer initiative. Now what we’re doing in that regard, is getting young people and some not so young, back on the tools. Certainly, we’ve seen through COVID-19 the fact that so many of these people have been idle unfortunately and that’s why we put JobKeeper in place, that’s why we put JobSeeker in place. But it’s time to get some of those re-trained, who’ve already been in the game. For others who are looking to a career in construction, in building infrastructure, time to get them trained properly and that’s why the Federal Government, in conjunction with the States, are putting on the $2.5 billion job-training initiative. Now the Prime Minister is going to have more to say about that at midday, but what I want to see and what Kevin Hogan, the hardworking Member for Page, wants to see is apprentices on the riverfront precinct, working, building and constructing this infrastructure, because we know, through COVID-19 and we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination yet, but we know by getting those apprentices, both young and old, out on the tools, out on riverfront precincts and construction projects such as this, is that we’re going to get the economy, the regional economy, back up to where it needs to be. And this is going to be an exciting initiative. I’m really, really happy about these sorts of projects. I’m really delighted that Grafton, Clarence Valley Council has come on board with this because as the Mayor has just said, this is an exciting day for Grafton, this is an exciting day for locals. He knows, as does Kevin Hogan, how much this is going to re-develop Grafton, how much it’s going to beautify it and you know when people stop and come into Grafton and they have a cup of coffee and mix with locals and I’ve seen how friendly it is, they will tell others, others will come. They’ll be picnicking along this riverfront precinct, they will be holding festivals here. It is going to be the centre of excitement for Grafton, for many, many years to come.

JOURNALIST

Excuse me, Deputy Prime Minister. If we’re talking about getting apprentices to work on the riverfront as underwriters of the project, will that be as part of the contract? How will you be ensuring that happens?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well we’ll be making sure, that of course, that the successful contractors will no doubt have an apprenticeship component of their workforce. Most companies do. Most people look to having apprentices on their books because you know, they teach young people new skills and look there’s going to be all sorts of businesses that are going to be able to procure into this and either directly or indirectly, apprentices are going to be involved and that’s part of the JobTrainer initiative and as part of any Federal Government initiative, we always make sure that in those tender documents, in those people who we rely on, to get the contractors involved, that we want to see local procurement, we want to see local jobs and we insist upon that. We want to see Grafton businesses participating in this work. It’s going to be so important. The Mayor knows, he knows full-well how this is going to re-develop Grafton. How it’s going to make this place so much more liveable, so much more accessible and so much more exciting for people to visit.

JOURNALIST

Also, Deputy Prime Minister, the NSW Business Chamber or the NSW Businesses as it’s called now, is calling on the Federal Government to support apprentices to the tune of 90% of first year wages, and I know the Federal Government is now coming out with 50%, they also say that the trainers who support apprentices are also taken off their regular duty to supervise apprentices. Why is it that the Government set a figure of 50% for the first year?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, this is why we are announcing this JobTrainer initiative today. So there are many components of the JobTrainer initiative and I’ll leave that to the Prime Minister to detail fully and to explain fully at midday because it is not yet announced. But we are excited by the fact that we are putting $2 billion towards this. Pleased that we are partnering with States who are also putting $500 million towards this and Michaelia Cash and indeed the Industry Minister Karen Andrews, have been working very hard for a blueprint for industry, for manufacturing, for the future and that involves apprentices. So that’s why this announcement is being made today. Very timely, very appropriate and it is going to make the world of difference for those companies to put on apprentices, indeed for the apprentices themselves. And of course we work very closely, through the National Cabinet processes, with Premiers, with the Chief Ministers to make sure we get the conditions right, to make sure we get the eligibility right and to make sure that we are backing apprentices all the way. That’s why Dan Tehan, the Education Minister, is making changes and reform to our tertiary system, to make sure that when the graduates finish their diplomas, finish their degrees, that they are job ready. That there are jobs for them to go to. We want Australia to get working again. It’s been very difficult. It’s been hard. We have had drought. We have had bushfires. We’re now experiencing the grip of COVID-19, but we will get through this and we will get through this because we are a resilient nation and we’ve got young people who want to work. We’ve got young people who are resilient, and we’ve got young people who want to be apprentices, who want to pick up the tools and want to rebuild Australia.

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