PM Morrison writing at his desk in his prime ministerial office

Doorstop - Hobart Airport, Tasmania

Transcript
24 Feb 2019
Hobart Airport, Tasmania
Prime Minister
E&OE

SENATOR THE HON ERIC ABETZ: Today's announcement is exceptionally exciting for southern Tasmania, but indeed all of Tasmania. It builds on the good economic management that has been delivered by the Coalition Government over the last few years. The Premier and I still recall the 2013/ 2014 period when this state was in recession, was going backwards, and as a Federal Coalition, we promised to turbo charge the Tasmanian economy.

The Coalition was elected federally, shortly thereafter the Liberals were elected in Tasmania. And we have worked hand in glove ever since to ensure that we deliver good economic management to Tasmania. And the statistics are there for all to see. The Premier and his Treasurer have a great trade record for Tasmania, as we do federally. Unemployment down from 8.1 per cent to below 6 per cent. These are the sort of things that are transformational for this state.

And it's very apt that today, with the signing of the Hobart City Deal, we are here at the Hobart Airport. In 2013, as part of our policy to turbo charge the Tasmanian economy, we agreed to extend the Hobart runway. That has been delivered on time and I might add below budget and as a result, we are able to make these further announcements today. As a Tasmanian Liberal Senator along with my colleague Senator Jonathon Duniam, this really is a very exciting moment to see all this hard work after the past five years come together in this Deal which now allows us, if I can borrow a term from you, Premier, to take Tasmania to the next level. And with that, allow me to introduce the Premier.

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Thanks, Eric. Prime Minister and federal colleagues and to Treasury Government and our state team and also to the Lord Mayor and our local governments colleagues as well as many other distinguished guests, it's an appropriate moment to celebrate the culmination of a lot of hard work, but I think a really great example of all levels of government coming together to plan strategically for growth, to deal with challenges that come with a growing economy, and most importantly to invest in ways that will turbocharge not only the City of Hobart, but also our state.

I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the mayors and the work that they've done. This is a really important collaboration and they inform part of this greater Hobart that is really a different place now that it was just a few years ago. Tasmania's economy, now one of the strongest performing in the country. We’ve seen strong levels of population growth, a lot of business investment, and we need to match that with government investment and infrastructure.

This is a wonderful way to capitalize also on our great competitive advantages. Our role and our status as the nation's gateway to Antarctica will be enhanced by this extraordinary deal. And that will further lead to growth in that important sector and at this airport for Tasmania's exporters, for our tourism industry, for those of us who need to travel out of Tasmania. And to those we welcome here in increasing numbers, to have this airport restored to international status is something that's been a dream of mine and this government for many years. This is a massive investment that will secure Tasmania's international status and we really welcome that.

In conclusion, I just want to take the opportunity to acknowledge my Treasurer and Minister for Local Government Peter Gutwein, who's not only been pivotal in ensuring that Tasmania's budget is in such great shape, our economy is firing on all cylinders, but has put in aa power at work into this City Deal. He's been the lead minister for the state government, so thanks very much to you and for your efforts working very closely with Alan Tudge and I'm delighted to again, welcome the Prime Minister back to Tasmania very swiftly after his last visit. I know we'll see a lot more of you over the coming weeks. But great to have you back PM.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Premier. It's wonderful to be back here, Premier, and to be back in the turnaround state. I've said it many times and you are taking it to the next level. And I can also extend my good morning, because it is a beautiful morning here in Hobart today, to my federal colleagues, my state colleagues, and those from local government as well. This is a partnership which we're announcing here today. We have signed it here today. 

You can do a lot when you've got a strong economy. If you don't, you can't. That's the lesson, I think, whether it's in Tasmania or Australia, when you've got an economy which is strong, you can do a lot of things. And today we're announcing the Hobart City Deal, which we'll sign here today. But today I can also say because of a strong economy, we're announcing that from the first of April of this year, any Australian will be able to get their heart check-up and they'll be able to do that on Medicare and there is no cap on the amount of money that we'll put on it. It's unlimited. That's what our commitment is today. You do that because you've got a strong economy. 

We’re also announcing today that we are listing further drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, in this case that will be the pharmaceuticals associated with leukemia and leukemia-fighting, life-saving drug. These are the things you can do, taking a $7,000 drug down to a $40 drug and $6.50 if you’re on a concession. And that's to fight leukemia. That's on top of what we've done with lung cancer and breast cancer and ovarian cancer. All of these incredibly important things.

Today we're also announcing more than $200 million in research to fight heart disease in Australia. This is what you can do with a strong economy. And it's also what you can do here in Hobart with this City Deal that we’re announcing today. I share the Premier's joy and enthusiasm in terms of particularly what this Deal is doing for Hobart International Airport. It has been the dream of the Premier and one we've been very pleased to partner with him on to realise. This is great for Hobart. Make no doubt, but it's great for all of Tasmania. Whether it is Jess Whelan who is here with us or Bridget Archer up in Bass or anywhere across the state, this is a good deal for the state. It's just not about Hobart down in the south. It's about all of Tasmania and I know that's why the Premier is also so committed to this project because it is a gateway and enables all Tasmanians to benefit.

The project encompasses our environmental commitments and our research and capability that is based here on the Antarctic and the Environment Minister Melissa will say a bit more about that in a minute. It deals with everything from affordable housing through the busting congestion in our cities. It's great to see the turnaround not only in the economy, but the population of Tasmania and that requires us to invest and that's exactly what we're doing.

So it is a landmark day for Tasmania, for Hobart, and for Australia and I'm very pleased to be here with the Premier and all of our other colleagues of local, state, and federal government to get this done. Thank you. I'm going to pass you on to Alan Tudge, the architect of the Deal from the Commonwealth's point of view. Thank you.

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP, MINISTER FOR CITIES, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND POPULATION:  Well, thanks so much, Prime Minister and Premier and colleagues and mayors. This is a Deal worth waiting for. It is a really transformational Deal for Hobart and for Tasmania. On Friday, we announced the details of the social housing package that is going to be $30 million, 100 new public houses for Hobart, which will assist the most disadvantaged in our community, including those who have escaped from domestic violence.

Yesterday was congestion busting day. We announced hundreds of millions of dollars for projects across the greater Hobart region. And that included $461 million for the Bridgewater Bridge, the single largest investment in Tasmania's history. And today we're announcing the rest of the deal and obviously with the two leaders signing it. And that's the most important elements of the deal itself is exactly as the Prime Minister said. And that is the opening up of this airport behind us to be an international airport.

Now that comes about from many things. We've already extended the runway thanks to $38 million which we put in a couple of years ago. We're investing in the gateway coming into the airport. But today we're announcing $82 million to be able to put the security in place, the migration settings in place, for people to be able to come in as an international airport. Now this means that from 2020, it'll be open for business.

Now when you look at other airports, and just recently we did this to the ACT Airport, it has led to in the ACT, a 20 per cent increase in international travellers in just two years since we opened up international airport there. And so the possibilities for Tasmania are exactly the same. And we hope that this will mean more international visitors are able to fly directly into Hobart and visit the whole of Tasmania and add to the tourism economy there. Overall that will add, we estimate, at least 680 jobs in the process.

The other key component that we're announcing today as well is the enormous contribution, which we've along with the Tasmanian government will be making towards creating what will undoubtedly be the world's best Antarctic and Science Precinct down at Macquarie Point. And that is an unbelievable vision which the Premier has articulated and we are joining him on that today. And that's going to be complemented by a $450 million investment in Antarctic research and work, which we've done in part with the University of Tasmania. And Melissa will say a couple of things about that.

Can I just conclude, though, in just in thanking the Tasmanian government, in particular Treasurer Gutwein for his work in working so closely with me along with the mayors, the four mayors involved in this. It has been a long journey, but it's been worth the wait. And it's been great cooperation across the three levels of governments and when you have the three levels of government working closely together as we have to produce a Deal like this, it's just amazing what you can achieve. So thank you so much to the Premier, to Treasurer Goodwin, and to the mayors for all the work that they've done here as well.

THE HON MELISSA PRICE, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Thank you. Thank you. Good morning, everybody. And can I just say first thing, happy 50th birthday to Casey Station. It's great to be here. It's wonderful to have an invitation to Tasmania. Complementary to the Hobart City Deal is the $450 commitment over ten years to Australia's Antarctic presence. The key infrastructure, whether it's water, whether it's power, improving communications, improving research facilities, improving administration. This is in addition to our existing commitments to the Antarctic, including a  $1.9 billion icebreaker which due for delivery in 2020 and also other key infrastructure like an all-weather airstrip. 

This is good news clearly for Tasmanian businesses, the local people of Hobart, but all around Tasmania and this just shows us what we can do with a strong economy. So I'm thrilled that we've got $450 million commitment to improving our Antarctica facilities, good for Tasmanians, good for Australia. Thank you. I'd like to introduce the Lord Mayor of Hobart.

ANNA REYNOLDS, LORD MAYOR OF HOBART: Thank you, I’d just like to introduce the other three mayors that are involved in the greater Hobart area, Doug Chipman from Clarence, Kristie Johnston from Glenorchy and Dean Winter from Kingborough. The four mayor of greater Hobart are really pleased to be signing this Deal today. And most see this Deal as the start of a really important journey that's going to be occurring over the coming few years. Because implementation of this kind is the really important next step. There are many projects in this plan that we need to work out how we're going to continue to fund and implement and build and deliver. But all of the really key projects that are important for Hobart's future are in this plan. We're excited about that.

I personally am very excited about the investment in Antarctic science because any investment in Antarctica is good for Hobart. Hobart is the capital of Antarctica and it is great to see this investment in Antarctic science. It's the beginning of the journey. We've got a lot more work to do. And we’re really keen for the first time as four mayors to be working much more closely together, but also working closely with the state and federal government and they're very supportive of the concept of city deals because it is about all levels of government working very closely together. The community wants to see us working together. They don't want to see division. They want to see collaboration for the community. And so city deals are a good project and a good initiative from that perspective. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Lord Mayor. What I suggest we do is why don't we address if there are any questions about the City Deal itself and there's quite a cast that can take those questions from you today and we'll direct those to the appropriate place. And if there are other matters, I suspect others who are already directly associated with the City Deal, we'd be happy to excuse them and I'm happy to deal with any other matters of the day. So, the topic.

JOURNALIST: Is there any investment for UTAS’ STEM building to come to the city?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve got to say, we've got the Vice Chancellor, and I’ve got to commend UTAS for the tremendous work they've been doing. As you know, UTAS was the beneficiary of $150 million as part of the Launceston City Deal. They have also made a tidy profit [inaudible]. And they receive around $400 million each year when it comes to Commonwealth payments. And they've got over $1 billion of capital of which they can leverage and pursue. There are many opportunities, which I have no doubt the Vice Chancellor will be very expert in opinions of. So that is not something that is part of this Deal. We think that's something that obviously, though, they'll be able to pursue in their own capacity and they've been significant beneficiaries of the deals we've already done.

JOURNALIST: Similarly, there's a concern there's no real commitment to light rail, which many see as the key to unlocking Hobart's traffic congestion.

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP, MINISTER FOR CITIES, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND POPULATION:  Well I addressed this point yesterday, I don’t know if the Premier or the Treasurer wants to add anything.

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: I might invite Treasurer Gutwein to make some comments

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP, MINISTER FOR CITIES, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND POPULATION:  I addressed this point yesterday, in terms of it was a huge congestion busting package which we announced, including $25 million to go into the northern corridor. And what I mentioned was that really this Deal is the first step in having better public transport solutions for that northern corridor. And there's a commitment to investigate what the best option is going to be going into the future, knowing that we need to activate that corridor, do the better planning, have the development options on the table, get rid of the red tape, and do all the pieces along the way as well.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] 

PETER GUTWEIN, TREASURER OF TASMANIA: Obviously there's a congestion busting piece to this [inaudible]. More importantly, what this also provides in the Deal is the first steps to be taken respectively with all the planning that needs to occur that could unleash hundreds of millions of dollars of urban development on those transport corridors. So it's the first step, the first stage, but importantly, there's $25 million under the Deal that will enable us to do that.

JOURNALIST: How much of the $1.43 billion or whatever it is actually budgeted for now?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I’ll tell you, it’s all in our forward estimates. It’s all in there. This isn't a promise. This is an actually funded commitment. It's actually in place. When it comes to commitments that are made around the election, they will be made at the time of the election being called and subsequent to that. Everything that I'm announcing all around the country, as I have been since becoming Prime Minister last year, all of that is fully committed in the budgets and in the forward estimates. So that's real money. So it’s a fair question, I suppose, to put to our counterparts. Will they reverse the funding that we’ve put in place? I would certainly hope not. But my plan is to ensure they aren't given the opportunity.

JOURNALIST: This airport is getting busier and busier. We will have the AFP here any time soon?

PRIME MINISTER: As soon as there's international flights, yes.

JOURNALIST: So that's a definite?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes.

JOURNALIST: Do we know when there will be international flights?

PRIME MINISTER: Once the international flights are here, that's what actually brings the two together.

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: And it's anticipated that by 2020, we'll be able to have international flights coming in and out of the state. Obviously there are the investments that we are talking about today that Hobart's airport also needs to undertake the master plan upgrade to also accommodate not only for the investments that are part of the city deal, but also to make sure that we have the capacity to welcome the large numbers of visitors, to get our freight exports out to the world. We've had the highest rate of growth in international tourists of any state. We've had the highest rate of growth in exports of any state over the last year. So this is a response to that growth, but we're expecting that international carriers will continue to have an interest in our state and its progress with flights expected to commence in 2020.

PRIME MINISTER: There's about $80 million that is going, or just over that actually, going into Border Force and Immigration and those types of other services that enable the Hobart Airport to be Hobart International.

JOURNALIST: Just to be clear on that, is that new money or are you taking that from somewhere else in those budgets?

PRIME MINISTER: Everything we're announcing here today is new money.

JOURNALIST: And Premier, just on the flights, we're talking about scheduled passenger flights and scheduled freight flights, is that the intention?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Yeah.

JOURNALIST: So how far down that path are you, because you've had discussions already?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Yeah, well and those discussions are ongoing. We do have high numbers of passenger movements. We've got more exporters wanting to get their product into markets right across the globe. So we're certainly building a strong case to put to international carriers and whenever we're able, we continue to keep them engaged and interested in Tasmania. We just need the infrastructure, it will take some time to deliver that. But by 2020, we expect to have those international routes coming into our state and out.

JOURNALIST: Where do you think... where will they be coming from and to?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Well there are... the opportunities abound us really and we've got strong growth in key sectors that very much have Asia at the forefront at a lot of what we're doing. But our closest neighbours where the Prime Minister's been just this week, I think, will be an obvious opportunity for us, but no doubt right across the globe.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Labor has a pledge to create…

PRIME MINISTER: If there are no other questions on the Hobart City Deal… those who wish to remain are very welcome to remain but otherwise I’m happy to go to those other matters. Is that the case from the journalists? OK, why don’t we do that.

JOURNALIST: So Labor has pledged to create a new shipping fleet to enhance Australia's national security if they win government, will the Coalition consider doing the same?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I find surprising about Labor'sannouncement today is that when they were in government, they didn't commission one naval ship. And they seemed to be more interested in doing what the MUA tells them to do, the Maritime Union, than what the Australian people wanted them to do and that was to actually commit to our Navy and to build our defence forces. I mean, we have the biggest naval ship building program going on since the Second World War. That's where our commitment comes to these investment and that is not only ensuring that our defence capability is back where it needs to be. I mean, the number of consecutive starts to these programs is almost unparalleled even in the United States, anywhere in the world. That is the scale of our commitment when it comes to our naval ship building. And while I can only observe from the ALP is when it comes to issues of boats, whether it's building naval ships or stopping illegal boats coming to Australia, the only thing they're interested in is what the MUA tells them to do.

JOURNALIST: Labor is saying that our Australian flagged vessels have shown that [inaudible] during times of global instability. Do you share that concern?

PRIME MINISTER: No.

JOURNALIST: Is it pure coincidence China is delaying our shipments of coal through their northern harbours or do you think it’s political?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I think the Chinese Minister said very clearly yesterday that’s not what was occuring. And I said on Friday when I was in New Zealand that leaping to those sorts of conclusions is very warranted and that the Chinese government has actually pointed that out. From time to time, there have been decisions made in local ports. And we're talking about ports here which actually represent a very small proportion of our coal exports to China. And so I think it’s very careful how they characterise these events. I don’t think… I think the great risk of that is inviting concern, particularly in our mining and resources sector. 

I was pleased to be here last weekend for two great events. One was of course the Tasmania Achievement II launch up in Burnie, which was tremendous. But also we were here to announce our forestry hub here in Tasmania. We're very committed to our traditional industries, whether it's our agricultural sector, whether it's our forestry sector, and mining for resources sector. I mean, you have the Labor Party saying it’s wonderful that the market for our biggest export is having difficulties. What does that say to people, not just get mining jobs, but in forestry jobs. What does it say to the forestry workers of Tasmania that if Labor thinks it's okay for the global market for our biggest minerals export to be going through some tough times, then how do we know they didn't feel the same about the forestry industry for the same reasons? That's why you just can't just trust Labor on jobs.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday it was published in the Australian alleging that historic child sexual abuse claims against the Tasmanian Liberal MP who was a key minister at a federal or state level. How concerning are these allegations?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA:  I'll make some brief comments in relation to this matter, which is a serious one and obviously given the nature of it, it needs to be dealt with appropriately. I can advise that I have written to the Tasmanian Police Commissioner to draw to his attention the article and to request that the Tasmanian Police take any appropriate action as is necessary.

JOURNALIST: What will the Liberal Party be doing to follow up these allegations?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: That's the appropriate course. I'm not able to provide any further commentary in relation to this matter at this time.

JOURNALIST: To what extent are you concerned that the alleged victim in this case says that she contacted police in 2014 and made the allegations then and she heard nothing back from the police?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Well again, it's a matter that I've referred to Tasmanian Police to give consideration to obtaining the appropriate action as is required. That's what I expect will occur. And it's appropriate for that matter to be followed up through those channels.

JOURNALIST: How long have you been aware of this issue?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Since the report yesterday.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to the person who it’s referring to?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA:  Again, I've outlined the course of action, the appropriate course of action that I've taken and it is on the basis of advice I've received as well in relation to it. And that's the course of action underway, the step that I've taken.

JOURNALIST: Did you receive [inaudible]?

WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: I take advice from appropriate offices and respond accordingly.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much for your time. It's been great to be in Tasmania.