Triple M Coffs Harbour Moffee for Breakfast

Moffee: Joining us on the phone this morning—very happy to have him on the line—is the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker. Good morning, Deputy PM.

Michael McCormack: Good morning, Moffee.

Moffee: Michael, it's a while since we spoke—in fact, I was having a look. I think it was about April 2017, so almost a year ago.

Michael McCormack: Oh, that's way too long. We need to do this more often, Moffee!

Moffee: Exactly right, we do, because time goes quickly. A lot's been happening since then: of course, becoming the Deputy Prime Minister. Oh, quickly—good morning Luke. How are you, mate?

Luke Hartsuyker: Oh, good morning, Moffee. I'm glad you remembered me! I'm sitting here patiently.

Moffee: [Laughs]

Look, it's been a very busy 12 months for you, hasn't it, Michael?

Michael McCormack: It has indeed, and it's been a good 12 months, and certainly a 12 months of delivery. And tonight, we've got the Budget, and that's going to be a fantastic blueprint for Australia's future.

Moffee: And look, I guess one of the big things for the Coffs Coast that they've been waiting for and talking about and talking about and talking about is the Coffs Harbour Bypass, and the good news is $971 million confirmed in the Budget being handed down by Scott Morrison tonight for that project.

Michael McCormack: Luke Hartsuyker has delivered.

The project includes upgrading of around 14 kilometres of the Pacific Highway at Coffs, starting from south of the Englands Road roundabout and finishing off at the southern end of the Sapphire to Woolgoolga project.

So that's fantastic news, and Luke Hartsuyker, as he always does, has come good.

Moffee: Now Luke, there's been a lot of talk—and we spoke about it yesterday morning—about the bypass and the creation it has for jobs and for our local economy here; not only, obviously, after it's all completed, but in that timeframe of the construction with people living here, working on it, going to our shops, our cafes, kids in schools and things like that. It really is great for the region.

Luke Hartsuyker: Yeah. I mean, the highway project as a whole has been one of the biggest job creation projects on the North Coast. It's absolutely massive: thousands upon thousands of jobs—both direct and indirect. This project, probably 400 to 500 jobs involved in the construction.

What that means is more kids in our schools, more people shopping in our shops, a lot more economic activity. It's going to be an economic boost for Coffs Harbour during the construction phase, and it's going to be an economic boost for Coffs Harbour as a result of the increased connectivity that will be available to North Coast businesses with the rest of the world, by being able to move their goods to major capitals far faster.

I mean, this is the missing link in the highway project, and it's great to see it going ahead.

Moffee: Now Michael, we've obviously got the projects running at the moment with the Pacific Highway upgrades both north and south—Warrell Creek not that far off completion. Is there a timeframe when it comes to starting the construction on the bypass?

Michael McCormack: Yeah, 2020. We've obviously got to go through some environmental impact statement activities, a bit of property acquisition and some detailed engineering. But look, that will all happen pretty quickly, and we expect work to begin in 2020, and that's not far away, and completion by 2023.

Moffee: So we'd still be waiting probably about another 18 months or so before dirt's actually broken?

Michael McCormack: Yeah, as Luke just explained, it's a big, big project. The state runs these projects. We provide the money—80 per cent of the money—and the state now runs them, but this is a massive project.

And certainly it's been a high priority, not just for Coffs. Let's not just think this is about Coffs. This is about nation-building infrastructure. This is about saving lives of people from all around Australia and many international tourists who come to Australia to see the delights of what our nation has to offer. But this is going to get people up and down the coast sooner and safer, and I can't emphasise again how much Luke Hartsuyker has campaigned for this, and he has delivered.

Moffee: And I'm glad you mentioned that, too, about it not just being about Coffs, because we have plenty of truck drivers driving through town, and we're talking- from the business side of things too, your freighting companies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane. They've got the trucks that are running through here, and for them as well, it not only means safer for their drivers, but the travel times and the delivery times better as well.

Michael McCormack: Well, it improves the supply chains. It indeed does, and our freight task is expected to double over the next 20 years, and when you've got better roads and better rail facilities, it just makes for safer travelling for the public and getting goods to port, getting goods to market much quicker.

So I'm delighted that, again, Luke Hartsuyker and the state member Andrew Fraser have again and again and again seen me about this.

Even when I was the Small Business Minister they were campaigning long and loud about this, and good on the two of them for what they've done and the advocacy they've provided, and it's going to be a great boost—as Luke Hartsuyker just said—for the Coffs Harbour community.

Moffee: Yeah, brilliant stuff. And of course, tonight with the Budget handed down, not only the bypass but there should be some great things when it comes to tax cuts and when it comes to even our aged care as well for our region, and Luke, it's something that you and I have spoken about: our aged care is something that's very important in the region.

Luke Hartsuyker: Well yeah, we've got a lot of older residents on the North Coast—much higher than the national average—and this budget is one that's going to deliver for older Australians. They're the people that built this country, and I think that it'll be a budget that will be well received by the older community.

Moffee: Yeah, brilliant stuff. Well, fellas, thank you so much for having a chat to us this morning and all the best today, and of course tonight with the Budget. Let's talk again soon, hey?

Michael McCormack: Thanks, Moffee, will do.

Moffee: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Luke Hartsuyker, the federal member for Cowper, joining us on the phone this morning on Triple M.