Transcript - Interview with Ross Stevenson and John Burns, 3AW

Ross Stevenson: We’re very grateful for the Minister giving us the time to speak to the Assistant Commissioner and then hanging on the line. We’re very grateful. Federal Population and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge.
Minister, good morning to you.

Alan Tudge: Good morning Ross.

Ross Stevenson: Front page of The Age this morning, the huge pipeline of road and rail projects across Melbourne and Sydney will not prevent the cities becoming paralysed with congestion by 2031. Does this make a further case for the East West Link here in Melbourne?

Alan Tudge: A couple of points on that. Firstly, it was quite a pessimistic view that they take, because they haven’t taken into account all of the new projects which have been announced even over the last six months and inevitably will be announced over the next decade. But second, it does reinforce the case for the East West Link. The report itself identifies that it will remain one of the most congested corridors, that corridor from the east and across to the city link on the other side. And we’ve - at the federal level, we’ve got the public funding ready to get it built and we just want the state government to give us the green light.

Ross Stevenson: Aren’t you playing a bit of catch-up football though on the basis that - the more infrastructure you put in, you’re still behind as far as population growth’s concerned, from immigration and natural births?

Alan Tudge: Well in part you’re right, I mean, in some respects I think in Melbourne we’re 10 years behind where the infrastructure should be. And this is in part due to successive governments over time, but we have actually taken some steps in relation to the population issue which you probably know has slowed down the population rate. We’ve encouraged more new people who are coming into the country to settle in the smaller cities and in to the regional areas, so we’re very cognisant of that population pressure point coming into Melbourne, which is the fastest growing city in Australia.

Ross Stevenson: Let’s try to get this thing built. Can you expect the two fans of the possible East-West Link here, Minister? Let’s try to get this thing built. Daniel Andrews has said nah, I’m not building it. You’ve said you’d give him four billion. What if you gave him eight billion, would he build it?

Alan Tudge:
Well, our estimate is that it only requires four billion of public funding, and then he’ll require about three billion of private funding in order to get the road built. So we’re actually not asking the state government to contribute a single cent in order to construct the road but of course they’re the only ones that can authorise and undertake the construction. It’s one of the frustrations, actually, at the federal level. We can provide the money but we can’t actually do the build. And so we’re simply asking the state government give us the green light so that we can go ahead and get a company to come in, build that road so that traffic can finally be connected from the busy Eastern Freeway across to the other side of- in the west- western side of Melbourne.

Ross Stevenson: Minister, one last question. I don’t know whether you read the same article over the weekend, but I’m surprised that there hasn’t been some sort of meeting of the minds here, because I read over the weekend that Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews love each other.

Alan Tudge: Well listen, actually we work together very well and the Victorian public expects the two levels of government to work together well, and we’ve got more in common than we have differences. We’re working together well on the Melbourne Airport rail link, on Geelong fast rail, the Monash upgrade, on the M80 upgrades and so many other projects. The one sticking point though, Ross, is the East-West Link and that’s where we’re still going to make a case there, we’ve put the extra funding aside, and we just want the state government to give us the green light.

Ross Stevenson: Minister again, thank you, and thank you for your patience. Callers - that’s the Alan Tudge, Federal Population and Urban Infrastructure Minister.