Good morning everyone and welcome to La Trobe and in particular here today at Berwick train station. It’s great to have the Treasurer here, Josh Frydenberg, and also Minister Alan Tudge.
This is actually now probably the fastest growing electorate in the country. Previously, to bust congestion, we’ve actually committed back in March 2016, a $1 billion plan to upgrade the Monash Freeway. The great news is stage one has been completed, that was an extra lane from Clyde Road to the South Gippsland Highway. Stage two is about to start, that is an extra lane from Warrigal Road to the South Gippsland Highway. And, here, on Clyde Road right out to Kardinia and potentially even right out to Pakenham.
The Treasurer will be very excited about the Beaconsfield interchange and the extension of O’Shea Road and the simple reason is because south of the Beaconsfield interchange, it’s going to create 10,000 local innovation, advanced manufacturing jobs.
Now, one of the biggest issues in my electorate has been is people trying to get to work on time and coming to the Berwick train station and other local train stations, even at 6.00am in the morning, they can’t find a car park. So, rather than starting the morning in a relaxed fashion, it ends up being a very stressful event, driving around Berwick or driving around Pakenham train stations to find a car-parking spot.
So, with this great news in the federal Budget and I thank both the Treasurer and Minister Alan Tudge, of a $500 million fund for local train stations, this is fantastic news for local residents here living in La Trobe and in particular, today in Berwick, where we are going to announce $15 million for up to five hundred new car parking places. Thank you very much, Treasurer.
Well, thanks very much Jason and can I congratulate you on being an outstanding local member for the people of La Trobe and it’s good to be here with you at Berwick train station. And also the expertise you bring to the Parliament, having been a former police officer and somebody who is very, very focused on fighting terrorism.
To my good friend and parliamentary colleague, Alan Tudge, Alan has put together an incredible package of measures to bust congestion in our cities and to manage population growth. We know it all too well here in Victoria and in Melbourne, a city that is growing by a couple thousand people a week, putting real pressure on public transport, on our health and our education services. So, busting congestion, getting people home sooner so they can be around the dinner table and getting them to work earlier has been a real focus of this Budget.
And this is a Budget that will build a stronger economy and secure a better future for all Australians. Of course, it’s the first Budget surplus in more than a decade. But a strong economy is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end and that end is to guarantee the essential services of health and education and disability support and aged care, but it’s also a means to an end of providing the cities that we live in, the regions that we live in with the best possible infrastructure.
And so in this Budget, we announced $4 billion for our Urban Congestion Fund and that is going to be absolutely critical to ease the pressures on people living in our cities and our regions. And a component of that is a $500 million Car Park Commuter Fund and this is the first project under this Fund. So, I think it’s going to be really important, it’s going to create more car parks here, so people don’t have to drive all the way into work. It will take cars off the roads, thousands of cars off the road and, importantly, it will give people the peace of mind when they catch the train to work they can put their car here and that they don’t have to drive all the way into work. So, it’s a great announcement, it’s a real credit to Jason and his advocacy and to Alan who is behind this program.
Well, thanks, Treasurer and Jason. Today, we are announcing $15 million, which is the first project we are funding out of the new $500 million Commuter Carpark Fund. Now, that fund will finance up to fifty stations, up to fifty carparks and take more than 25,000 cars off the road. Now, that is real congestion busting infrastructure. We know that people want to be able to take the train and we support their choice. But to do so, they need to be able to find a car park readily and if they find a car park readily they can get onto that, jump on the train and get in to work quickly and back home at night quickly, cheaply and safely and that’s what we want to do.
This $500 million is part of a broader $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund. And that is part of a massive $100 billion infrastructure program, which we are rolling out over the next decade, the largest in Australia’s history. Of course, we have announced $6.2 billion more for Victoria alone and that is going towards our growth corridors, it’s going towards things like the airport rail, to fast rail to Geelong, to sealing the Dandenong Range and of course, also, projects like this one. We want to bust congestion with the major corridor upgrades, we want to bust congestion by fixing those local intersections, which cause people so much grief. But, we also want to bust congestion by providing commuter carparks which people can get to and then jump on the train to get to work quickly and to get home safely at night.
I want to thank Jason for his advocacy of this project, along with the local Casey Council, who has been a very strong advocate of this project as well. I was just speaking to someone this morning, and they were saying that this carpark was full when they had arrived 8.06am in the morning. And we want to add up to 500 new car parks here, so that people can get on the train quickly, get to work and get back home safely at night. We’re happy to take any questions.
Just a question for Mr. Frydenberg. Just on another note…
Any questions about the infrastructure? Just underline what Alan said and what Jason has been saying. $100 billion set out in this Budget for our ten-year infrastructure plan. Importantly, for the people of Victoria, they’re going to see fast rail, which is going to bust the congestion in the city, it’s going to unlock the potential of the regions, we’re getting the Melbourne Airport Rail Link and we’re getting practical projects that make a difference to people’s lives, like here at Berwick station.
On another note, why is the Government fudging a decision on the environmental approval of the Adani coal mine?
Well, clearly, as I said yesterday, the Government is going through the proper statutory process. The Minister is talking to the scientists and you have to bear in mind that when it comes to the Adani project, the major approvals have already been given and there were 180 rigorous environmental conditions attached. These are now a set of sub-approvals that are going through the normal processes.
On another note as well, what do you say to Queensland colleagues of yours who want Melissa Price to quit unless she signs the environmental approval?
Look, Melissa Price is going through the proper process, working with the scientists, taking the best possible advice and of course, this is again, the Adani project is one where the major approvals and is now going through the sub approvals.
What’s the difference between Government and Labor Party on policy towards electric vehicles?
Well, the Labor Party is talking about their 50 per cent target by 2030, bearing in mind that only 0.2 per cent of new car sales are electric vehicles and nineteen out of twenty three electric vehicles on offer are above $60,000, so it’s out of the reach of a number of Australians.
And as the Prime Minister has said earlier today, if people buy an electric vehicle, then that is a personal choice that they make. But Bill Shorten wants to take these choices out of the hands of the Australian people. We have when it comes to our energy and climate policy, a considered plan. Bill Shorten has a uncosted, unfunded plan. He’s into virtue signalling and he’s not into reducing people’s power prices and easing the cost of living.
Treasurer, you’re here campaigning in outer Melbourne, the Prime Minister is campaigning up in Queensland, but we’re not actually in an election. When are we going to have one?
Well, of course, the election will soon be upon us and the speculation in the media in recent weeks has been on three dates; the 11th, the 18th and the 25th. And of course it’s going to be a decision for the Prime Minister as to the exact date.
But, we’ve just released the economic plan for Australia that sets us up for the next decade and that is the Budget. And in the Budget, there are nearly some 700 different measures. Not only is there the fiscal story which is the surplus, but there is also the story around the tax cuts that we’ll see $1,080 into the hands of millions of Australians from thirteen weeks’ time when they put in their next tax return.
And if you’re a teacher and a tradie, each earning $50,000 or $60,000 in the electorate of La Trobe, you will get $2,160 in your pocket in thirteen weeks’ time. That is money that will go into your monthly mortgage, that is money that will go to your quarterly energy bill, that is money that will go to your yearly car insurance premium. So, these policies, whether it’s tax, whether it’s our half a billion skills package creating 80,000 new apprentices, whether it’s the $100 billion infrastructure plan or our health and education policies and initiatives. These need to be explained and outlined to the Australian people, that is what we are doing and we will continue to do it in the weeks and the months ahead.
So, you haven’t received a poll bump it doesn’t look like from the Budget. You’re out selling the Budget now, how do you feel it’s going over in the electorate?
Well, as you know, there is only one poll that counts and that is election day. Our focus is on the Australian people. It’s not about us, it’s about the Australian people. That’s who is driving our policy agenda, that is who is behind the Budget; what is best for the Australian people. And this Budget creates a stronger economy and a secure future for all Australians including people here in La Trobe. They are going to benefit greatly from the tax cuts, from the infrastructure spending, from the new positions for apprentices and, of course, for the record spending on hospitals, schools and roads and aged care and disability support.
Do you have a figure yet for how much the Government will be spending on advertising this week when we could be in an election?
Well, what I will tell you is that we will not do what the Labor Party did back in 2013. And that is spend taxpayers’ money through the caretaker period on government advertising. What we are doing is sticking to what is the usual process for governments, which is to communicate their messages about their energy plan, about their tax policies, about online safety for our kids and a whole series of other measures that we continue to communicate to the Australian people. The Labor Party spent half a billion on advertising when they were last in government, including $100,000 on three fake kitchens to sell their carbon tax. Well, they would have been better off providing that $100,000 and building real kitchens that made a difference to real people, not their silly taxes.
We are effectively in an election campaign already. How much are you spending this week to sell the Government?
Well, all that is obviously public and transparent and in due course. What we are focusing on is our policies and making decisions. And today is an important decision and an outcome of an important policy; $15 million here to create new car parks to alleviate the congestion at the Berwick train station. That is going to make a different to Jason’s constituents. That’s what they care about. The fact that our tax cuts will leave the average full-time worker around $1,000 better off than they would be under the Labor Party. You see, Bill Shorten, he will make promises through this campaign, but it will only be funded by higher taxes. We are doing [inaudible], more money on hospitals, more money on schools, more money on infrastructure, more money on apprentices and tax cuts, without increasing taxes. That is the contrast at the next election. It’s in Labor’s DNA to increase taxes. It’s in our DNA to produce Budget surpluses and to reduce taxes.