Transcript 3AW Interview with Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell: Okay, we’re talking about an audit coincidentally, a sort of gridlock guide for the Prime Minister who’s here three days, spending $260 million. The Calder, the Hume, Ballarto Road Skye, Fitzsimons Lane Eltham, we’re getting a lot of nominations. On the line, the Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge, good morning.

Alan Tudge: Good morning Neil.

Neil Mitchell: What about the Geelong Road, are you going to fix that?

Alan Tudge: I know that’s a very busy road, I take it frequently. We’re putting $150 million into the rail line at the present time to upgrade that and obviously the Western Distributor Project will help ease the pressure on the Geelong Road as well but it’s not something…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] It’s not on the list.

Alan Tudge: …we’ll put money into now but we’re always looking into future projects of course.

Neil Mitchell: Northern suburbs?

Alan Tudge: The northern suburbs- obviously there are a couple of big projects in north and northwest into the Calder High- Calder Freeway and the Hume Freeway today. We were putting $100 million into a $50 million project…

eil Mitchell: [Talks over] What about the Doreen area? We’re getting a lot of calls about Doreen.

Alan Tudge: We haven’t- we’re not announcing anything today in relation to Doreen. I mean there’s- the thing about Melbourne- and I’m from Melbourne as you know Neil I grew up in Pakenham; I live in the other suburbs now in Knox. And there are hotspots right across the city in part because our population is growing so fast and the infrastructure simply hasn’t been keeping up.

So today, we’re actually about announcing a series of smaller projects to fix some of those local congestion hotspots. Sometimes it can be a small local intersection which really causes people grief and that’s on top of obviously the major billion-dollar investments that we’re putting into the major highways and freeways.

Neil Mitchell: Well speaking of the big ones, is it right that you’re still sitting on the $3 billion from East West Link?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, we’ve got three-billion-dollars which is there ready to go as soon as they come…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Oh, let’s spend it, let’s spend it. Fix things.

Alan Tudge: Well [laughs], well, it’s amazing you mentioned the East West Link because I mean had we actually got on with the job…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Oh yeah, but that’s gone.

Alan Tudge: …it would be finished by now. If it is, it’s not going to be built…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] I agree with you; I agree with you but it’s gone.

Alan Tudge: …it’s not going to be built under Daniel Andrews but we need to take a look at that money and…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Well, but Daniel Andrews probably there for the next eight years, he’s been to two elections and he’s won both, arguably on- well the first one on this issue, it was certainly an issue with the second one, it’s done. I don’t agree with it either but the people have spoken, how can we get our hands on the $3 billion and spend it on the roads?

Neil Mitchell: Yeah, so we’re going to be taking a look at that, Neil, over the weeks and months ahead…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] What’s [indistinct]?

Alan Tudge: …there’s an urgent need in Melbourne for more infrastructure which we’re announcing a series of projects today and over the next couple of days.

Neil Mitchell: Yeah but that’s a couple of a hundred million; we’re talking about three billion here, we’re talking about fair dinkum value.

Alan Tudge: Sure, sure.

Neil Mitchell: When?

Alan Tudge: Absolutely but even over- even last year in our federal budget, we announced a further almost $8 billion for Victorian roads. So there’s fair dinkum money which is going into Melbourne from the federal government and that’s on top of obviously…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Okay.

Alan Tudge: …the lead guys who are the state guys who are largely responsible for building the infrastructure.

Neil Mitchell: So you can’t hold that there’s any hope on the three billion in the near future?

Alan Tudge: Well just watch this space Neil; in terms of we know that’s an issue…

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Well are you talking to the state government?

Alan Tudge: We are disappointed that the Andrews government doesn’t want to build it and it needs to build…

Neil Mitchell: Are you talking to the state government about it?

Alan Tudge: …but we’re taking a close look at it.

Neil Mitchell: Are you talking to the state government about it?

Alan Tudge: Well, we’re taking a close look at it now.

Neil Mitchell: What does that mean? Are you talking to the state government?

Alan Tudge: Neil, in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be informing you.

Neil Mitchell: At least sit down and talk to them.

Alan Tudge: Oh, listen, we have conversations with them all the time.

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] They won’t talk to me; they might talk to you.

Alan Tudge: No, we have conversations with them all the time and even before we announced the Calder Freeway and Hume Freeway upgrades today, we had consulted with their officials and their priorities for them as well.

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Good. But just ask you, you’ve been…

Alan Tudge: [Talks over] I had conversations with the Minister on a very regular basis.

Neil Mitchell: You’ve been looking at it for four years, I remember you introduce- getting, organising the meeting at a function- well, getting together Joe Hockey and Tim Pallas four years ago.

Alan Tudge: And I’ll tell you what Neil, that if ever the state government decides to change their mind on what is a vitally needed piece of infrastructure, we will be there to support them...

Neil Mitchell: [Talks over] Well they’re not going to change anything.

Alan Tudge: …but your point is that they’re not going to change their minds over the next four years and so consequently, we are looking other priorities. Consequently, last year by the way, we put $5 billion on the table to finally get the airport rail built.

Neil Mitchell:So what is the most- if you could wave a magic wand, what is the most important fix in Victoria?

Alan Tudge: There’s a series of roads which need further development. One is that we need – and this is a rail project as I’ve mentioned first – that is the Tulla Rail, it’s been on the books for decades and we are now finally going to get it built.

The Monash constantly needs upgrades. We’ve put further money into that. There are local hotspots though in individual communities which I know cause people enormous grief because sometimes it will take them 15 or 20 minutes just to get on to the major arterial, and we want to fix those little intersections and that’s what we’re about over the next few days.

Neil Mitchell: Thank you very much for your time. The Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge.