Doorstop Geelong

Journalist: So, a fairly historic day today, Alan, the signing of this deal?

Alan Tudge: It's a really important day for Geelong and the whole Shipwreck Coast because we're outlining a 10-year vision to really activate the tourism economy and that means more people down here, more jobs, more wealth for local people.

Journalist: You mentioned tourism too. That tourism spend's quite small, isn't it? Seventeen cents, I think, at the moment.

Alan Tudge: Yeah. It's ridiculously small and this is the real issue, is that so many people come down to this beautiful part of Australia, but they literally do day trips there and back. And what this plan is about is building better infrastructure so that people are more likely to come and spend money, stay the night and really get to know the region. And through that, you're creating jobs in the process.

Journalist: How do you balance increased tourism and preserving those natural assets people take for granted?

Alan Tudge: You've always got to balance that correctly. But there's still so many opportunities down here and things like even additional walking tracks, which are funded in here, might open it up to a whole new different set of tourists to be able to explore that particular area. I'm really excited about the investment down at the Twelve Apostles because it's an iconic part of Australia and yet there's really so little infrastructure down there at the moment. So people literally do go down there, take a look at the Twelve Apostles and then drive back [inaudible]. Plus importantly and I mentioned this before, $23 million, in essence for the underlying infrastructure, which then enables new businesses to set up down there. So ideally actually we might have a hotel down there or other restaurants or cafés, so you can really make it an experience over a period of days, potentially.

Journalist: Jaclyn, you said earlier before this is above politics, it's an enduring document and everyone is going to be held accountable. How is that going to work exactly? You're going to be accountable to each other or to somebody else?

Jaclyn Symes: Well, I think the public. I think this Geelong deal is about the Geelong community and those along the Great Ocean Road. So, the money is on the table. We've got pretty good public servants that are delivering it. There's an implementation committee. I think the media are pretty across the plan. I reckon there's a few people to hold us to account and we've got an implementation plan which says when and how we're going to deliver it.

Journalist: Everyone here will be well aware that the long and sometimes tortuous process it is to get to this point, you would hope that it doesn't descend to finger pointing if certain projects aren't delivered by these deadlines?

Jaclyn Symes: I'm feeling really optimistic about the delivery of the projects. I think they've been well thought out, they're well structured. There's the implementation plan to say how to get along with it and I think we're actually quite excited about delivering them. I don't think there'll be finger pointing, I think there'll be celebration when we reach each milestone.

Journalist: Sarah, it must be nice to be back to see this come to reality given you had a little bit to do with making it happen in the first place.

Sarah Henderson: James, it is great to be back and it's wonderful. This is a very exciting day for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road and the broader region. As you know, I've been advocating for the City Deal for a very long time and it was a great day when that was announced, led by the Commonwealth Government, our Government of course, and it's now fantastic to see the three levels of the government working together and driving an enormous amount of investment into our region, $370 million and not just into Geelong city but also right across the region, including down our magnificent Great Ocean Road. So, it is a very exciting day.

Journalist: Yeah. Nothing that hasn't quite made the final plan that you'd like to see in it?

Alan Tudge: Sarah has always got a long list.

Sarah Henderson: T here's always more to do. No. Look, James, as you know, we worked very hard to make sure that some really important projects in Lorne, in Skenes Creek, in Apollo Bay were included in the City Deal, so I was very pleased to drive that initiative to make sure that all of the Great Ocean Road economy was included in the City Deal.

And so now I think we've got not just an incredible investment in the Twelve Apostles as a destination but also investments along the Great Ocean Road which will encourage tourists and visitors to stop, to spend more money, to stay overnight, and to experience the wonders of our region.

Journalist: Just on the fast train, Alan, the last time you were here, you announced $2 billion dollars for the fast train. How are those talks going with State Government?

Alan Tudge: They're progressing. We obviously want to see these built as quickly as possible and we've got $2 billion on the table to see it happen, and that would mean a 32-minute journey from Geelong Station to Southern Cross. And that would completely transform this region in the process, building that connectivity. Now I'm in discussions, in good constructive discussions with the State Government at the moment. The project does interact with the Melbourne Airport Rail Link project in terms of the initial first bit from Southern Cross to Sunshine and that's the most complex and expensive bit. And so we're working through that, but I'm hoping that we'll have full commitments from the State Government in the near future.

Journalist: And you're still saying $4 billion will do it, what you have to do?

Alan Tudge: Let me be clear about this, it's actually a $10 billion project. $6 billion is from Southern Cross Station to Sunshine, but that's been covered by the Melbourne Airport Rail Link money where we've got $10 billion set aside. And then you've got an additional $4 billion expenditure from Sunshine in Geelong of which we're putting in 50 per cent. And then we're asking obviously the State Government to come up with the other 50 per cent. So as I said, we're working through it. The State Government's got the business case underway, that's a $50 million business case. But we really just want to get cracking.

Journalist: I might get a statement from Jaclyn on that if I can, on the fast train?

Jaclyn Smith: Sure. Well I think in terms of regional rail, the Andrews Labor Government has demonstrated its bona fides when it comes to investing in regional rail and trains and making passengers' journeys more comfortable, quicker and more efficient. And I think Jacinta Allan, the Minister for Transport Infrastructure and Major Projects, is very committed to making sure that we're at the table having those conversations. And as the Federal Minister has indicated, the reports out of those conversations have been very positive.

Journalist: What's the state view on that? Obviously the funding, is it enough money to get this done, finished?

Jaclyn Smith: I'll leave the matters of costing projects to the relevant Minister. But as I've said, she's at the table, she's having productive conversations and I think our record speaks for itself when we talk about the investment that we make in public transport in the state of Victoria.

Journalist: Okay great. Thank you.

Alan Tudge: I'll just add to just your answer Jaclyn, with holding everybody accountable as well. This is the seventh deal which we have signed nationally. And so far the implementation plans are very effective in terms of outlining precisely what each level of government's responsibilities are to deliver upon. And furthermore we'll outline at a yearly public update against each of these commitments as well. So that's another mechanism of accountability back to the Australian public in terms of ensuring that we're delivering upon them.

Journalist: Okay because questions will obviously be asked if in 10 years' time if everything's not done.

Alan Tudge: It's going to be very, very clear because I mean as you see when you walk through the documents, I mean some of them have very precise timelines attached to them. I've just opened up here Apollo Bay Harbor. You know, Q1 2020 is the consultation; Q3 project plan agreed; Q1 2021 commencement of the design; commencement of construction Q1 2022. So we hold ourselves accountable. We meet at the leadership level frequently in terms of myself, Jaclyn, the Mayor of Geelong or other mayors of other shires. And that's outlined in the document as well in terms of the governance structures. And then there is an officials level committee as well which oversees it and elevates any issue which they're concerned about falling behind to the respective Minister to make sure it stays on track.

Sarah Henderson: And the other thing that's important to point out is that if those milestones can be brought forward, there's the ability to bring the funding forward and to bring the projects forward. So if the various proponents are able to do that, then there is the ability to bring those projects forward as well which is very important.

Journalist: Just on your population hat, Alan, is there a danger Geelong's growing too fast at the moment in terms of its growth rate?

Alan Tudge: It certainly has been growing quickly. And I can understand why because it's such a beautiful part of Australia and there's job opportunities down here, you can have an amazing lifestyle. I know some people will decide to commute into Melbourne each day. As you probably know, the largest driver of our population growth is the migration rate, that constitutes 60 per cent of the nation's population growth and we've brought that migration rate down from a cap of 190,000 down to a cap of 160,000. And then within that we've actually allocated dedicated positions just for some of the smaller cities in the regional areas. So we think that will take a bit of pressure, population pressure off Melbourne, Sydney and places like Geelong.

Journalist: Okay great.

Alan Tudge: Thank you.