AusLink, Scoresby, Peter Garrett, fuel discount coupons – Press conference, Geelong

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National Accounts: March Quarter
June 2, 2004
Address to Communities in Control Conference
June 8, 2004
National Accounts: March Quarter
June 2, 2004
Address to Communities in Control Conference
June 8, 2004

AusLink, Scoresby, Peter Garrett, fuel discount coupons – Press conference, Geelong


Kardinia Park, Geelong

Monday, 7 June 2004
10.00 am


SUBJECTS: AusLink, Scoresby, Peter Garrett, fuel discount coupons


Well first of all let me acknowledge the Mayor of Geelong. Thank you for having

us here Mr Mayor, Ed Coppe. To Elizabeth Matuschka who’s here, candidate

for Ballarat. To Susan Jennison, the candidate for Gorton. To Peter Curtis I

acknowledge you, candidate for Lalor. Kevin Gibbins from Bendigo, Bruce King

from Corio and of course my good friend Stewart McArthur.

Today in Canberra the Australian Government is launching the most exciting

program for land transport development in Australia’s history. It is a

program called Auslink. It is a program which is designed not just to build

road links but to build rail links and to upgrade Australia’s ports and

inter-modal connections. This is designed as a five year program through to

2008-2009 to renew Australia’s land transport infrastructure and the national

goal is to have a four lane highway from Gympie, north of Brisbane, all the

way down to Melbourne. And we will be announcing at the national level the completion

of the Hume Highway between Canberra and the NSW border.

But as part of Auslink, Victoria has received the largest increase in road

transport construction of any of the States with an increase of over 100 per

cent for new construction which is being announced today. And the new projects

which are being announced today, here in Victoria, include upgrading the railway

track between Geelong and Mildura, the standardisation of a second railway track

between Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga, new rail connections between Tottenham

and West Footscray, improving interstate rail connections to the (inaudible)

precinct, and three particularly exciting new road projects. An announcement

of funding to begin construction of the Deer Park by-pass, the announcement

of the next section of construction on the Calder Highway between Kyneton and

Ravenswood, and for the first time today, the Commonwealth Government announces

$186 million for the Geelong by-pass, to fund 50 per cent of the Geelong by-pass,

from the Corio to Waurn Ponds in partnership with the State Government by 2008-2009,

a ring road which will go around Geelong and open up the links down to Colac

and the western district. It will avoid the necessity for twenty traffic lights

for traffic coming through the town of Geelong. It will give better amenity

to the residents of Geelong, better access for the tourist trade which is going

down to the Great Ocean Road, and it will give better freight for that freight

which is coming up the Geelong Road to Melbourne.

I want to pay tribute to Stewart McArthur who has lobbied incredibly hard for

this road, and I could honesty say it would not have happened without him. I

know that the Mayor of Geelong and his council have been very active. This is

a large sum and the most exciting project here in Geelong since the extension

of the Geelong Road which the Commonwealth Government was also involved in,

and I think that the people of Geelong and western Victoria will be great winners

under the new Auslink program which is being announced today – Australia’s

most ambitious land transport program.


When will that money be available?


The money will be made available so that completion can be done by 2008-2009,

that financial year. And we believe that now it’s incumbent to go ahead,

get the contracts out there, begin the work, and finish it. The Commonwealth

has fully funded its portion of their share, for completion in 2008-2009.


If the contractor asks (inaudible) construction can begin, will the money be

there in 2004-2005?


Well, if the State Government wants to come with other scheduling programs,

we’d certainly look at it, but it’s fully funded and, as far as

we’re concerned, fully funded there in the Budget ready to go.


What about tolls?


And there would be no tolls, and can I also say, that as part of the Auslink

announcement, the Commonwealth Government has also funded the fifty per cent

share of the Scoresby Freeway. Money will be available for the building of the

Scoresby Freeway, and we call on Mr Bracks to honour his signed promise, and

to build the Scoresby Freeway, as he has agreed, as a freeway, without tolls.


Is the size of the package that Victoria is going to get from Auslink recognition

of what the State Government says is the fact that Victoria has been well behind

other States on their share of federal funding?


No. It’s really the fact that Victoria is getting more than other States

proportionately, as a testament, I must say, to the very active lobbying of

the Victorian members, and in particular Stewart McArthur. I must say to you

that the Geelong ring road has not been recognised as a Road of National Importance

in the past, and if it hadn’t been for Stewart’s efforts I don’t

think it would have been, so, it is quite a considerable increase, and I pay

tribute to the Victorian members for the work they have done on it.


…(inaudible) Victoria hasn’t been getting it’s fair share

of road funding in the recent past?


No I don’t, because when you look at road funding there are two key indicators

that you have to take into account. One is population, and Victoria is the second

most populus State, and the other is size. When you come to road funding, and

Victoria is a small State, so when the Commonwealth agrees to build a national

highway right around Australia, it’s already done that in Victoria, but

when you go to States like Queensland and Western Australia, building a highway

from one end to the other, takes a lot more road. So Victoria has been receiving

its fair share, but I can assure you, will be receiving even more with the largest

increase of any of the States for road construction under this program. Can

I also say to you, that there is one way in which Victoria will miss out, unfortunately,

that is if the Scoresby Freeway isn’t built. If the Scoresby Freeway is

not built, the $421 million of Commonwealth money which is set aside for building

it, it won’t be received in Victoria. And so I say now to Mr Bracks, honour

your promise, get on with Scoresby, get Victoria another $421 million.


The State Government also asked for more than $190 million for the Calder.

That hasn’t been forthcoming in Auslink, and why is that?


No. The Calder is a Road of National Importance, and it’s built on a

fifty-fifty basis, and under Auslink, the next section, which I already said,

will be built, as the money become available.


But Scoresby is totally dependent upon it being toll free?


Absolutely, I must continue to make this point, you don’t stick taxpayers

money into privately owned roads because if it is privately owned, the toll

pays for the construction.

Now, we think that Scoresby should be a freeway, because that is what Mr Bracks

promised, we hold a signed agreement for a freeway and we are holding the taxpayers

money to build a freeway. If he wants to privatise the road, give it off to

private ownership and charge people to use it, with the profit going to the

owner of the road, then you wouldn’t put taxpayers money into it. So,

let’s be clear about Scoresby, Steve Bracks can have another $421 million,

the people of the eastern suburbs can have a freeway, he can keep his word and

the signed agreement can be honoured, or alternatively the road will be privately

owned, the people of the eastern suburbs will pay the toll, Mr Bracks will break

his word and the contract will be dishonoured. Now, I think it is a bit of a



The Commonwealth won’t take it over as a Road of National Importance

and totally fund it?


A Road of National Importance is fifty-fifty funded and the Commonwealth has

declared it a Road of National Importance for fifty-fifty funding. When the

Commonwealth takes a road, it’s a national highway, it funds it 100 per

cent, so national highways are funded 100 per cent, that is the national highway

around Australia, and the Roads of National Importance are funded 50 per cent.

Now, Scoresby is not a national highway, it is a Road of National Importance.


(inaudible) won’t be making it a national highway project?


Well, it is not a national highway, Scoresby doesn’t link Melbourne and

Sydney or Sydney and Brisbane.


With so much money being ploughed into the Geelong by-pass to help (inaudible)

electoral chances later this year?


Well, Geelong is the greatest winner in Victoria under the program of Auslink,

there is no doubt about that, $186 million, and the reason for that I think

is we recognise the importance of Geelong, but more particularly Stewart McArthur

has done a fabulous lobbying job.


It looks like an election campaign promise, could it be seen as that?


Well, no, don’t get critical of it, I think the people of Geelong would

be quite happy to see the ring road built. We shouldn’t get critical about

these things…


These projects have been on the drawing board for quite some time, might they

not be a little cynical that you’re announcing funding now?


The Geelong road has never been part of a Commonwealth responsibility, the

Geelong ring road has never been on the drawing board until today.


The State Government has been asking for (inaudible)?


Yes, but the State Government would try and pass all of its responsibilities

off to the Commonwealth, you know that, and if it could it would take no responsibility

for anything, so let’s be clear about it, the Geelong by-pass or the Geelong

ring road from Corio to Waurn Ponds is only being announced today, it has never

been on the drawing board before today.


What sort of a shot in the arm do you think it will give this area?


I think it will be enormous. I think it will be great for tourism, I think

it will be great for the freight task for western Victoria which will now be

able to skirt Geelong if it is going to Melbourne, and I think it will be great

for the amenity of the area that no longer will the through traffic from western

Victoria to Melbourne go right down the main streets of Geelong. I think it

will be great.


What are the particular economic benefits to all of Victoria and nationally

from this (inaudible)…?


The economic benefits are huge and it is, can I say, not just in terms of land

transport, it is huge in terms of rail as well. I am going to make two points

here, the first is that if we can’t get more freight onto rail then as

soon as we build better roads they will clog, so part of the trick here is to

get freight onto rail. The second is we have to preserve the integrity of the

national highway, if we have sub-developments interlinking all the time, you

won’t get the ease of freight that you need. One of the reasons why we

have to do the Deer Park by-pass is that we had a great highway there and with

the development of interlinks, you started to get traffic lights on that stretch

of road, so we have to protect the national highway and we have to develop a

national rail network. The benefits to Australia will be enormous and one of

the reasons why we are doing this is that we think in terms of economic benefit

it will pay for itself over ten and twenty years.


You are not just trying to use your position to clear this road and make it

easier to get to the footy are you?


Well, it will be a wonderful road but it might be good if Geelong football

teams walk up the Geelong Highway to Melbourne for future games, it might tire

them out on the way.


(inaudible).. Mark Latham would like to see the four cents a litre fuel coupon



Well, apparently Labor is opposed to the four cent a litre discount which has

been introduced by the retail chains, and Labor is opposed to it and the consequence

of that is of course if it were taken out, people would pay four cents a litre

more. Now, it is all very well to go around and say that you are opposed to

the discount coupon and you don’t like petrol being sold by major retailers,

but at the end of the day, if it makes petrol four cents a litre more expensive

for anybody else, I don’t think it is very good reform.


And how would you like to see Peter Garrett sitting across the chamber from



Well, I think it is a big test for Mr Latham isn’t it, whether or not

he can engineer Mr Garrett into that seat or whether the Labor Party branch

members are entitled to determine the preselection for themselves. It will be

a factional power play one way or the other, we know that, and we will await

with interest to see which of the factions prevails in the very bloody Kingsford-Smith

ALP factional war.