Transcript - William Hovell Drive Press Conference

ZED SESELJA

It’s great to be here with my good friend, the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, making another announcement. Obviously, Michael has been talking about infrastructure right around the country and he’ll no doubt speak to that. But here in the ACT, really, really pleased that we are building on our record infrastructure investment. Over the last couple of years we have committed around $1.5 billion in infrastructure investment here in Canberra. And just this calendar year –  just in the first few months – over $300 million. Whether that’s Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, whether that’s light rail or whether that’s the announcements that we’re talking about today, including a much-needed upgrade and duplication of William Hovell Drive. William Hovell Drive is critical, whether it’s for people living in the Molonglo Valley or people in West Belconnen, we know that this is a growing area and we need to invest money in it.

That’s why we committed money to the Tuggeranong Parkway, because this western corridor has seen great growth in population. And we also know in Gungahlin, which continues to grow, we want to see the duplication of Gundaroo Drive and that will benefit people living in Gungahlin but also that part of Belconnen. We’re seeing upgrades to the Beltana Road in Pialligo, which of course, is used by many Canberrans as well, as well as money for variable speed limits but record amounts of infrastructure, supporting hundreds of jobs over the last couple of years, in fact, supporting thousands of jobs in the ACT and region. And I’m very pleased, as we see growth in our regions, whether it’s on the eastern side of the Monaro Highway or whether it’s on the western side, William Hovell, the Tuggeranong Parkway, the Molonglo Valley Bridge, this is an infrastructure investment bonanza. I’m really pleased it’s part of our economic recovery and economic management.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Thank you, Zed and whether it’s Pialligo on the other side of town, whether it’s here on William Hovell Drive, we’re making sure that we’ve got the investments for Canberrans. We’re making sure that we are supporting those as Zed Seselja has just said, hundreds of jobs supporting not only direct jobs but indeed, indirect jobs. It’s not just about those who are laying the bitumen, it’s not just about those on the excavators, it’s not just about those on the stop-go signs, it’s also the café down the road which provides that egg and bacon roll and coffee at smoko. It’s those people that also benefit when we invest in infrastructure. Zed Seselja knows full well how much this infrastructure is going to mean to Canberrans to be able to get to where they need to be sooner and safer. That’s what it’s all about. So whether it is the Beltana Road, William Hovell Road, we’re making sure we’ve got the right investments in the right places, right now. [Car horn] and you can hear the motorists going past tooting their approval. They’re supportive. Everyone’s supportive. Well done, Zed Seselja.

JOURNALIST

Roads and this type of infrastructure in this case, are they just going to fill up with more traffic? Should there be more investment in public transport?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, we’re doing our part whatever the case might be and you’ll hear more from Josh Frydenberg at 7.30 tomorrow. Investments in all sorts of endeavours, these roads have of course, been prioritised by the ACT Government. You heard Zed Seselja just mention the Light Rail Phase 2A. You heard him talk about that. We are investing, we are working, indeed, with both territories and all states to make sure that right across the nation the Budget is supporting 30,000 additional workers in the investments that we’re making in infrastructure right across the nation and the ACT is a big part of that – $167.3 million going into the Territory.

JOURNALIST

On another topic, Christine Holgate has taken up a new job with Global Express. What do you make of her taking up that position in direct competition with Australia Post?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Good luck to her. I wish her all the best.

JOURNALIST

You’re not concerned? You think it’s appropriate?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I say again, good luck to her. I wish her all the best. I mean, we want people to fill roles all the time. That’s why in regional Australia, indeed, which is where I come from, is looking for 66,000 workers to take up a positions at the moment so anyone who takes up a position at the moment, I wish them all the best.

JOURNALIST

Just for our Wollongong bureau, how important are the Princes Highway upgrades, especially for the Wollongong-Nowra area?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Would you believe, I just got off the phone with Andrew Constance in the car who rang me up about the Princes Highway and so, we are investing in road infrastructure right across the nation [inaudible] we’re here in Canberra right now. So whether it’s regional, whether it’s a capital city, whatever the case is, we are investing in infrastructure. I’m working with those State and Territory Ministers. Yes, they’re not all of the same political persuasion as Zed and I. That doesn’t matter because the community doesn’t care what level it is and Josh Frydenberg will have more to say about the investments we’ll be making in local government tomorrow night. Whether it’s state and indeed, many of the Ministers I spoke to last night were Labor Ministers and they were backing in the Budget that Josh Frydenberg will unveil tomorrow night. Whether it’s of course, getting stuff done at a Commonwealth level, the people who are driving past right now, the people who live in Gungahlin or elsewhere here in Canberra, they expect delivery and they are getting it from the Liberal Nationals Government here in Canberra.

JOURNALIST

$3 billion for Victoria out of the Budget out of $110 billion, is that really enough for Victoria?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Jacinta Allan was very happy with the investments that we are making in that State. I spoke to her last night – I messaged her – and she was very, very happy. She responded when I told her what Victoria was getting. That intermodal freight hub, that will be so important for Melbourne but not only that, all the investments in country Victoria. She was happy and if she’s happy, then that’s a good thing.

JOURNALIST

[Inaudible] do you agree with that?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I’ll work through it, whether it’s Truganina or Beveridge, I’ll work through it with the Victorian Government to get the best outcomes.

JOURNALIST

Why do you need [inaudible] on car parks that were announced in 2019 after barely any of which have been delivered?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

And we’re investing in car parks and I know the Paul Fletcher has had a bit to say about that this morning, I know that Alan Tudge, who put that proposal forward initially of course, we work through the figures, we are working with the states as we always do and we get the outcomes that are needed.

JOURNALIST

[Inaudible] for Queensland jobs?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I might ring Cameron Dick and I might give him Mark Bailey’s number because obviously he doesn’t have it because Mark Bailey is backing the Budget. Mark Bailey is backing the investments we’re making for Queensland. Those two need to talk to one another, they should work a little bit more closely. Cameron should come out and criticise the Federal Government, we’re working well with the Palaszczuk Government. I appreciate [inaudible] and Mark Bailey, if he says it’s good and if he is pleased then I am pleased.

JOURNALIST

What are those investments in Queensland?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I can get you the full list, but we probably don’t have time enough, the rain’s coming in. But I am really pleased about the Bruce Highway upgrades, the increased investment there, the Mungindi to Charters Towers freight route that we are in investing in. we are investing right across Queensland, whether it’s north Queensland, central Queensland or indeed, the south east where hopefully, we’re going to be holding an Olympics in 2032. We’re getting on with the job of building the infrastructure over that 10-year pipeline and Queensland is certainly not missing out, Cameron Dick.

JOURNALIST

Before we get rained on, is extending roads or duplicating roads, isn’t that going to create more congestion? Shouldn’t you be investing more in public transport?

ZED SESELJA

Well, we are investing in public transport. As was pointed out, light rail is being funded to the tune of $132 million by the Commonwealth Government and [inaudible]. Roads continue to be important, Canberrans continue to rely on their cars and if you’re living in the Molonglo Valley, if you are living in West Belconnen, if you’re living in Gungahlin, the vast majority of Canberrans are still going to be relying on their cars to get to and from work. Yes, we want to see more public transport and yes, we will invest in that but we will make no apology for investing in our roads, roads which Canberrans really rely on.

JOURNALIST

Last week Reuters reported that Kiribati is working with China to upgrade a runway on a remote island. Are you concerned that China might use this runway as a dual use military facility? Are you aware of this proposal?

ZED SESELJA

I haven’t been given any detailed briefing on that but what I will say in general is that when it comes to infrastructure investments in the region, in the Pacific, we are putting money on the table to support the development of our region. We want to see a secure, prosperous and stable region, and Australia is doing its bit, whether it’s through our aid Budget, whether it’s through our infrastructure facilities or whether it’s through other support. At the moment we are giving great focus to COVID-support, whether it’s economic support or whether it is vaccines and I think, we’re going to call it before we get rained out. Thank you very much.

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