Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Special Minister of State
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Wednesday, 20 November 2019
MARK MCGOWAN: Thanks very much everyone. We are excited today to announce new projects for Western Australia to ensure we create jobs, to fix congestion and deal with some of the issues motorists and commuters around the State are dealing with.
As you know we have worked constructively with the Commonwealth to secure money for Western Australia for important transport projects for our State. We have done that over 2 and a half years in office and we have worked very cooperatively both with Senator Cormann and other Federal Ministers to secure that money for Western Australia.
Today we are announcing six new projects around the State. In particular there is two I would like to focus on. Firstly, the long awaited widening of Hodges to Hepburn, southbound. This will ensure that those people caught in traffic southbound on the Mitchell Freeway get some relief. This will mean there will be some additional roadworks over the coming years, but in time will mean the widening of Hodges to Hepburn, a longstanding issue of people in the Northern Suburbs and will ensure it will be a smoother traffic line. On top of that we have agreed with Commonwealth for a new train station in Lakelands, this will meet the needs of the rapidly growing suburbs north of Mandurah, Northern Mandurah and also suburbs in Rockingham and we have worked a model for that. There are four other projects that are part of this and then there is a range of projects in which the Commonwealth is bring forward its funding.
In Western Australia today we have the biggest rail and road build in the history of the State. That’s ensuring we fix the transport issues for the long term and it is also ensuring we have, create thousands of jobs for our citizens. Today’s announcement alone will mean an additional 1000 jobs for West Australians. We have jointly funded it with the Commonwealth we will ensure that we get work underway and that we get West Australians employed as quickly as possible. My number one priority is creating jobs for West Australians. This will ensure more jobs for West Australians and fix some long term transport issues in our State. Senator.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you Premier. It is great to be here today. Our Government continues to work cooperatively with the State Government here in Western Australia to deliver more and better infrastructure for Western Australia.
This announcement today means another $868 million worth of federal funding for WA infrastructure projects over the next four years. Six new projects, as the Premier mentioned, but also across eight projects, about $817 million worth of federal investment that is coming into Western Australia faster. That will help ensure that projects can be delivered more quickly. We very much appreciate the work that we have been able to do with the State Government here in Western Australia to make that happen.
Projects right around the State, from Bunbury to Albany, to Karratha. The Tonkin Highway project here in the metropolitan region and many, many other projects.
More than 20 per cent of the infrastructure funding brought forward nationally is coming here to Western Australia. More than 20 percent of the bring forward in federal infrastructure funding is coming here to Western Australia. This is part of our overall $100 billion infrastructure investment program nationally. We have committed more than $13 billion of that since we have come into Government into Western Australia.
We continue to deliver more funding for key infrastructure here in Western Australia. It is great that the State Government here in Western Australia has been so cooperative and so good to work with in making sure that funding hits the ground in terms of projects that will help our economy, help us create more jobs, but also help get Western Australians get home sooner and safer.
ALAN TUDGE: Thanks very much Mathias, Premier and Minister Saffioti. Today is a great day for Western Australia. We are bringing $868 million worth of Federal infrastructure dollars into the forward estimates. As Mathias was saying, that supports eight projects bringing those forward right across the State, but importantly we are announcing together with the State Government, six new projects.
Now these were projects that were election commitments of ours and have been funded by the Urban Congestion Fund. We have had a great working relationship with the State Government. I would particularly like to thank Minister Saffioti for the working relationship I have with her to make sure that these projects get underway.
Now the two big ones out of this $200 million which is going towards these six projects are the Mitchell Freeway widening project, as the Premier mentioned. That one is just on $76 million, 50/50 arrangements there. That will save the inbound motorists about eight minutes per day. Across the course of the week that means motorists are saving up to forty minutes a week that they can spend with their families rather than been stuck in traffic.
The other major one I would mention is the Lakelands Station. That is a very important railway station which will be built there as well. Another good project that has been jointly worked on with the State Government. As you probably know that is a very fast growing part of Perth and presently along the train line there is a twenty four kilometre gap between Mandurah and the next station down the line towards Perth. So this will greatly assist residents in that fast growing area. That is an $80 million project which we are contributing the majority of that, but also the state team is making a contribution to that as well. I want to particularly thank Andrew Hastie for his advocacy for that particular project. But overall, we promised that we would bust congestion and get people home sooner and safer. These six projects certainly contribute to that.
RITA SAFFIOTI: Thank you, as Minister Tudge said this is another great day for WA. More funding for more road projects and railways projects across the State. Six new projects targeted at reducing congestion, saving time for families. In particular the Mitchell Freeway project, Hodges to Hepburn. It is a congestion point. It is a bottle neck. This is a project we are very keen to get under way next year, partnering with the Federal Government on a 50/50 basis. So the new southbound widening will save time for families and yet there is another project along our freeways to reduce congestion and make our freeways work better. A number of other projects about improving intersections safety on roads like Great Eastern Highway and Great Northern Highway, the new Lakeland transition and also works on Wanneroo Road and Morley Drive. So a very welcomed announcement. We are very glad that we have reached an agreement with the Federal Government to get these projects on our books to get them underway as soon as possible. We also welcome the guaranteed funding of another $860 million over the next four years to make sure we can deliver projects across regional WA. In particular, the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, Albany Ring Road and of course in the metropolitan area, the Tonkin Gap which is a major congestion point for people traveling along Tonkin Highway but also the starts of a key component of the [inaudible] rail line. So a welcome announcement. We are very keen to have new jobs in Western Australia over the next two years we will see record amounts of works on our roads, on our rail lines. What we are doing is creating more jobs for Western Australians through a record construction program.
QUESTION: [inaudible] … do you know how long, do you have an idea of how long it will take?
RITA SAFFIOTI: So approximately eighteen months. We hope to get this project underway by the end of next year and we hope to make that sooner. Because we are operating with an existing freeway reserve issues on environmental clearances aren’t as great as newer project sites. So we hope to have the project underway by the end of next year but earlier than that we see this together with all the other freeway projects as really changing the way we travel and changing the time we travel on our freeways and really hitting those congestion points. It is true when you are looking across the network some of the key congestion areas like Russell [inaudible] road which we are working on now [inaudible] and of course Hodges to Hepburn is the latest in our congestion combustion program.
ALAN TUDGE: Just on this as well, this project which Minister Saffioti was just been mentioning will create 500 jobs alone. The six projects which we are jointly announcing today will generate over 1000 jobs. So that is good news for Western Australians. Across the country the projects which we put under construction now, which we are funding are supporting 8500 jobs across the nation. Once these get up and running that is 1000 jobs more, so that is great news for everybody.
QUESTION: Senator Cormann, do you describe this as stimulus for flagging economy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We delivered a pro-growth budget in April. We are implementing our pro-growth budget. As we have said all the way through since the election we would do, we work with Premiers and Chief Ministers around Australia to explore whether there are opportunities to build some projects sooner if additional funding was brought into the forward estimates. That is what we have done on this occasion. We are executing our plan. We are implementing our plan, which includes $300 billion worth of personal income tax relief, which is coming into the economy as we speak, and an ambitious infrastructure investment program.
QUESTION: How much of this funding will fall into this financial year?
MATHIAS CORMANN: All of these things will be updated and reported in the half yearly Budget update which will be delivered in the middle of December. But this is an additional $868 million worth of funding for Western Australia, including $817 million worth of bring forwards which are part of $3.8 billion worth of bring forwards nationally. So Western Australia has been able to secure more than 20 per cent of the accelerated funding for federal infrastructure investments here into WA.
QUESTION: Is this an attempt to stimulate the economy is it a concession that the economy is not doing very well?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Australian economy continues to grow. Other economies around the world are shrinking. The world is facing a series of challenges. Australia is facing a series of global economic headwinds. There are countries around the world which are facing a series of global economic headwinds. The economies of Britain, of Germany, of South Korea, of Sweden, Singapore and others were shrinking in the June quarter. The Australian economy continued to grow. We are confident that on the back of low interest rates, lower income taxes, continued high investment into infrastructure, our ambitious free trade agenda, our efforts to bring down the price of electricity, our deregulation agenda, our economy will continue to grow. Economic growth will gradually strengthen into the future. We continue to implement the plan that we took to the last election. A plan that is sensible and with the cooperation of State and Territory governments we will also look at bringing elements of that plan forward if that makes sense.
QUESTION: This roads projects don’t happen overnight, they are going to take a while to get off the ground. Do you need to do something sooner to create more jobs and get the economy moving a bit faster?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The economy continues to grow. We will continue to implement the plan that we took to the last election, which was a pro-growth plan, a plan to build a stronger economy and create more jobs. We have always made the point that investment in high quality infrastructure necessarily takes time. It involves the prioritisation of high quality projects, it involves planning, it involves very careful execution of those projects. That takes time, which is why we are working in an orderly fashion with state and territory governments to explore where we can do more sensibly.
ALAN TUDGE: Can I just add in relation to the projects too though. As Minister Saffioti knows one of the largest of the projects, the Mitchell widening, it will begin early next year. The largest of the ones which we are announcing today will begin late next year, and plus there’s already 85,000 supported by the current projects around the country which we have underway. These other bring forwards, the eight projects which the federal government is bringing the funding forward on, they are all beginning in the next 12 to 24 months. So this is about getting all of these projects going. We jointly want to see them run as quickly as possible and we’re making sure the funding is there to make that happen.
QUESTION: [inaudible]… a major bottleneck for some of these areas in WA with the infrastructure projects are those problems resolvable?
RITA SAFFIOTI: We will continue to have the dialogue, so some projects we are getting very good cooperation and others there have been some other issues raised. So it’s something I am talking to the federal government about. We’re working together to see how we can try to get these projects underway as soon as possible, because we don’t want unnecessary delays. So in bigger projects as I said freeway projects are easier in the sense you are operating within an existing reserve a roads reserves. Other projects were we are operating a greenfield site we do have environmental hurdles to get over. We are working with the federal government and hope that the federal government can work to help us in respect to those environment hurdles.
QUESTION: These projects, the new ones not one of them is in regional WA, and arguably they are the most dangerous roads. Is country WA being forgotten here?
RITA SAFFIOTI: Absolutely not, I’ll just outline. If you look at some of the biggest projects that are underway, and will be underway over the next 12 to 18 months, between Commonwealth and state cooperation, they are in regional WA. Look these are projects that have been talked about for decades that it’s taken our governments to get underway. So for example, Bunbury outer ring road, that’s a project that’s been talked about for decades and as a result that, will be underway in the next 18 months. Albany ring road will be commencing next year. We have Karratha Tom Price road, with stage 3 underway at the moment, and stage 4 now guaranteed as a bring forward. We have other road projects like South Coast Highway, we have projects on Great Eastern Highway and we have the Outback way. It is actually record spending in regional WA. A lot of the projects which the federal government outlined, which were part of the $800 million bring forward, the majority, seven out of eight are regional WA, with the Tonkin gap being the only project of those 8 that is metropolitan WA. So regional WA is another big winner. I got to say, this government together with the federal government is spending record amounts in regional WA. We’re fixing those long term issues that no one ever took on. Like Albany ring road, like Bunbury Outer ring road, Albany ring road and of course the Karratha Tom Price road.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Let me just reinforce this. Most of the $817 million additional funding over the forward estimates is going to regional projects from Albany to Bunbury to Karratha, you name it. The Port Augusta to Perth corridor. The six projects that you mention, the $200 million that’s for an urban congestion fund. That is very specifically designed to deal with congestion in the Perth metropolitan area. So those projects are projects in Perth. This is all about making sure that people across Perth are not stuck in traffic any longer than necessary that we can help people get home sooner and safer. That is the specific purpose of the urban congestion fund.
QUESTION: What about roads like Indian Ocean Drive or Bussel Highway where there is only one lane? I know you have started on the widening works, is the federal government going to chip in at all? What is happening there?
RITA SAFFIOTI: Indian Ocean drive we have again spent money in creating new passing lanes. We’ve got $11 million also being spent over the next 18 months on widening and putting more audible edge lining and doing safety improvements. So I think all up we are spending over $20 dollars as part of the road safety package on Indian Ocean drive, and we will to work on that. In relation to Bussel Highway, that’s again a live negotiation with Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack in relation to how we can incorporate Bussel Highway widening works as part of the Bunbury Outer Ring roads. We had feedback, not so positive yet, but we will continue to work with that relationship and try to get those Bussel widening works both stages part of Bunbury outer ring road. I’ll continue those negotiations. I’m going to Melbourne for a Transport Ministers meeting later this week, and again will be something on the agenda to see if we can get some success in relation on Bussel Highway. But today is really focusing on the projects that are funded, and there are a lot of projects funded regional and metropolitan WA
MARK MCGOWAN: Can I just finish with this. I just want to say this is very exciting for the state, this is all good news. This is jobs in the region, jobs in the city, its fixing long term issues that have never been dealt with before. Hodges to Hepburn, anyone in the northern suburbs will tell you, that is a bottleneck that causes immense grief, and we’re going to fix it. Lakelands station, talked about for a long time and it’s in regional WA by the way. It will be something that is much welcomed by the people of southern Rockingham and northern Mandurah. So long term issues being resolved, creating jobs, fixing a problem that’s what we’re about.
QUESTION: Can we get the Federal Ministers on too. This one’s for you Minister, I am just going to read it to you. How disappointing is it that financial institutions are letting Australians down by not following the laws in place on financial transactions and perhaps aiding in organised crime.
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is very disappointing. Every business in Australia, like everyone else, must comply with the law. When they don’t, the full force of the law will come down on them. Austrac is doing its job ensuring that relevant laws are being complied with. The process now will take its course.
QUESTION: And then I just have one for Minister Tudge. This is just from our Melbourne office. They are just asking the Victorian Liberal party has just released its review for the 2018 state election disaster. How much responsibility will you wear for the Liberal party’s disastrous result?
ALAN TUDGE: That review we will look at very closely. But ultimately they’re matters for the party in Victoria, the party administration arm to consider that and work out what we do next. We didn’t have the result we wanted in Victoria. We wanted a better result. We have certainly got a great leader and a great team to work towards the next election in three years’ time.
QUESTION: Do you have any ideas on what may have gone wrong?
ALAN TUDGE: That is the purpose of this review, is to properly consider that. Where we did well and what we can learn from. We take those things on board as we go into the next election.