Doorstop interview - Hobart

29 Apr 2023
Prime Minister, Premier of Tasmania, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness, Minister for Small Business
Macquarie Point precinct; AFL; visit to Tasmania; housing; migration; 2023 Federal Budget; NDIS; Medicare; health policy; Kyle Sandilands’ Wedding

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much. It's great to be here on this very brisk Hobart morning with Premier Rockliff, with my Ministers, Julie Collins, Catherine King, and Carol Brown, as well as the members of the Premier's team for what is a very exciting announcement. This is Tasmania, here in Hobart's last possible urban waterfront development site. And I said to the Premier as we were walking up here, along what looks like a pretty derelict land that we've walked along the path here, that we didn't need to do this to set us up. That was something that was necessary at this site.
Way back in 2012, I stood just down there and committed $50 million as the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development for the development of a plan for this site. And the truth is that more should have been done over the last decade. The truth is also that more can be done for this site. Done as an urban development project that will create enormous economic activity for Hobart and, indeed, for all of Tasmania.
And that's why we've been working cooperatively with Jeremy to develop plans, to make sure that we maximise the use of this site for the economy of Tasmania, for jobs. But also for improving the amenity and liveability of this beautiful city of Hobart. The city's just two kilometres up that way. And the best cities in the world don't have this sort of terrain on their waterfront. You look at Barangaroo in Sydney and what it's done to transform it. You look at the Docklands project in Melbourne and what has occurred there. Elizabeth Quays in Perth. Southbank in Brisbane. What this project will be is a very significant project that will lift up Tasmania and lift up this most beautiful of cities here in Hobart. Make sure that we maximise, for those who live here and those who have the privilege of visiting here, the experience of Hobart.
Hobart needs more investment. Right here, housing will be a major focus of this plan. Crown land at Regatta Point will be developed through a private-public partnership, including affordable housing. Housing for essential health workers so close to the hospital facilities here. The Government advises that some 4,200 jobs are expected to be created during construction of the precinct. And that, when Tasmania hopefully has its own AFL team, as it should, that will produce as well ongoing jobs in tourism, in hospitality, as well as lifting up the sights of young Tasmanians who aspire to play for Tasmania in the Australian Football League. It's not an Australian Football League if it leaves off the South Island, and that's what has occurred for too long in spite of the fact that some of the greatest players like Peter Hudson, who, of course, were developed here in Tasmania.
So, this is an exciting project. It as well goes together with the $240 million that we have for this project that will see here a stadium that will see housing, that will see private investment as well. That will see, importantly, the port facilities so that we can have greater access to the Antarctic from here as well.
This is a revitalisation project that will transform this city. It is one that I'm very pleased to support. The Commonwealth will be providing, in the Budget in ten days' time, $240 million of funding for this site and $65 million for the upgrade of UTAS Stadium in Launceston as well. Because we want to make sure that the benefits of having an AFL team based here in Tasmania means that they can play both in Hobart and in Launceston as well to develop, to deliver the economic benefits for the whole state of Tasmania.
JEREMY ROCKLIFF, PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And it's great to have you once again here in Tasmania, which is a truly remarkable moment in time for the wonderful city of Hobart, but for all Tasmanians. Can I acknowledge and commend your team here today. Minister Collins, Minister King and Senator Brown as well and great to be joined by my colleagues, Nic Street, Dean Young and Madeleine Ogilvie as well, united in the investment of a truly iconic place in the world. The city of Hobart, Tasmania's capital city, this precinct is truly remarkable, and a precinct that all Tasmanians can embrace and, indeed, be very, very proud of.
Today, we have Federal and State governments once again working together to bring investment and opportunity to Tasmania. And what a remarkable opportunity this will be. A $240 million contribution from the Federal Government to add to our significant investment to transform this site ripe for development. An urban renewable project like no other that has ever been seen here in Tasmania, where we can unlock potential, where we can build a world-class multipurpose entertainment and sporting venue, where all Tasmanians can enjoy, all Tasmanians can come here and be entertained and watch their favourite footy team, which will be their own Tasmanian AFL team after decades of wanting, hoping and dreaming to have our own side.
But this is more than just a multipurpose sporting and entertainment venue. This is an urban renewal project of which will unlock a potential for housing, unlock potential for small business, entertainment, sport. But also, bring together a significant transport infrastructure. The Northern Transit Corridor, for example. Unlocking the ferry potential. And it's fantastic that just in its first year of operation, we have a ferry network that 110,000 Tasmanians have been able to enjoy and get to work on. This is just a very small part of what could be an enormous opportunity in terms of urban transport, precinct renewal. And it's fantastic that we will have in the not too distant future, Tasmanians will gather here. This will be a place of great enjoyment, reflection. There will be Tasmanians that set up small businesses here. To create opportunity for themselves and, indeed, their families. And Tasmanians will also live here as well. This is truly a historic moment when it comes to the Federal and State governments working hand-in-hand on a significant urban renewal project that all Tasmanians can be truly proud of.
And it can deliver, absolutely, that long-held decades old dream of having our own team, singing our own song, in our own colours. And having that aspiration of young Tasmanians, maybe even Zoe and Thomas can also dream to both play in the AFL, the AFLW league, at some point in time. It's about big dreams. And you know what, some of the hardest projects to deliver are the best. And this has been some journey for the Prime Minister, who stood not too far away in 2012 with a significant investment of $50 million to start, if you like, a vision and a dream.
And here we are over a decade later. I am very proud to be the Premier that in lock-step with the Prime Minister, to be able to finally get things done and get it done. For not only southern Tasmania, but all Tasmanians that can be truly proud of what this precinct will be, I know, in decades to come. Thank you very much.
CATHERINE KING, MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT & LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Thank you so much, Premier, and Prime Minister. I'm so proud to be able to continue as Infrastructure Minister of our now Prime Minister on this site. Macquarie Point is unique. And there is an extraordinary opportunity here to build something for a lasting legacy for the people of Hobart, but really for the entire country. An urban renewal precinct which involves, of course, an important stadium, entertainment precinct, but really importantly, the upgrade of the wharf behind us, social and affordable housing. It is really an investment in the opportunities for Hobart to develop new jobs, to engage and activate in the precinct. I know that the Premier is working very hard for this precinct. We encourage as part of the funding to look at the entire precinct and plan and work with the RSL, the Cenotaph is incredibly important here, to work and bring the RSL alongside with us to make sure that the local council here is engaged well, as well as First Nations people. Because this is a precinct for everybody. Not just for the people of Hobart. Not just for the people of Tasmania. But for the whole country as people come to visit this fantastic site. This will be an example of what you can do when you look at urban renewal properly, when you develop a precinct in partnership with the State Government to really make sure that we are engaging and ensuring that we have a lasting legacy here. So, as Infrastructure Minister who is responsible for the Federal component of delivery, I'm very proud to be continuing, really, a legacy that the Prime Minister started over a decade ago.
PRIME MINISTER: Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, have you ruined the chances of state Labor being re-elected given that their own polling shows that 67 per cent of Tasmanians don't want a stadium?
PRIME MINISTER: Bec White is a great friend of mine. And I spoke to Bec this morning. We'll continue to engage. I'm a Labor Prime Minister. I support the Labor Party. Jeremy is a Liberal Premier. He supports the Liberal Party. We don't take it personally. What we do, though, as government leaders, is act in the national interest and in Jeremy's case, act in the state interest. And we'll continue to do that. I worked very closely with Dominic Perrottet. I campaigned very strongly for Chris Minns to be the Premier of New South Wales. I remain a friend of Dominic Perrottet. People want politicians to get things done. My Government's committed to getting things done. This has been talked about for a long time, as I said. 2012, we funded there, the little sign there, the Macquarie Point Development Corporation was something that arose out of the 2012 Budget. Not enough has happened. If people think that this is an acceptable use of this waterfront site, well, that's a good argument. What I say is that we can aim much higher. And we can aim for a facility that will have the national AFL with the Tasmanian-based team playing here and playing at UTAS. That can aim for this site being used for concerts, for conferences here.
I launched my campaign at Optus Stadium in Perth. Optus Stadium in Perth is a great venue. It's not just a great venue for footy games, it's also, the first times that I went there was once for a Qantas event, second to launch my own campaign last year. I think three times I went there to conferences before I saw a footy game, an AFLW game between the Eagles and the Dockers teams. This is about bringing life and economic activity to this site. This is pretty lifeless at the moment right here where we're standing. And a site that will honour as well, the Cenotaph that will make sure that important Shrine of Remembrance to Australians that fought in uniform in our name is honoured. A site that brings affordable housing and social housing here. A site that upgrades the ferry terminal for the Antarctic activity, but also for the commuters along this most beautiful of rivers. This is an enormous opportunity for Hobart and Tasmania. My Government has worked really closely with the Rockliff Government to make sure that we’ve made suggestions and we've worked with departments to make sure that today's announcement could happen.
JOURNALIST: Great deal for the AFL. Who covers the cost for that?
PRIME MINISTER: There has been a lot of planning go into this. And I am very confident that can occur. The Tasmanian Government are very confident about it as well.
JOURNALIST: PM, Gill McLachlan came down last year and said no stadium, no team. How do you feel today that you have helped make the team dream come true?
PRIME MINISTER: I have worked closely with Gill McLachlan. And I think the AFL run a pretty good operation. And it is a good operation that provides a great deal of pleasure to Australians every weekend. And Tasmania having its own team is a very good outcome.
JOURNALIST: A question on migration. We are expecting increased migration from international students and people on working holiday visas. What is the Government doing to immediately address the housing issues?
PRIME MINISTER: We have a range of policies in place. But bear in mind on migration, that what has occurred is that people are coming, and because people weren't here because of the pandemic, they haven't been leaving. From one country, there are 60,000 students from China enrolled in Australian tertiary institutions. That is a good thing. It creates jobs and economic activity here. Normally, there would be 60,000 coming and 60,000 going. What has occurred here is there is 60,000 coming because they have all been doing their courses online. Similarly, from India and from other countries as well. The migration to Australia is still, bear in mind, much lower than it would have been and was predicted by the former Government. We are continuing to work on those issues.
JOURNALIST: The NDIS growth target will cost tens of billions of dollars. Can you outline how you are going to achieve that? Will you need to cut services?
PRIME MINISTER: We are going to make sure that the NDIS continues to deliver for people with disabilities. That is our focus. Our focus is making sure that the position is sustainable. And if you look at the projections of costs, one of the reasons why the states had their cap on their costs of four per cent was that was the expected increase. What we have agreed is that we will look towards, by the end of the forward estimates, in four years’ time, that growth in costs of being eight per cent. No-one is talking about any cuts here. We are talking about growth of eight per cent annual. It is still a substantial growth. We know that there has been some fraud in the scheme. We know that there is various things that need to be looked at, in order to ensure that every dollar of taxpayers' money, that Australians can have the confidence that it's going into improving the lives of people with disabilities, not going into the profits of a provider of equipment that's increased the costs by many times because it's been approved for use in the NDIS, for example. We will work with the NDIA as well. We will work with people like Kurt Fearnley, the Chair, who is a remarkable Australian. And we will work with the sector. We want to make sure that everyone who needs support is getting it. But we want to make sure as well that every dollar that's put into the scheme is making a positive difference. And we're confident that we can do that.
JOURNALIST: We just heard from some disgruntled people from Hobart. Was there consideration in upgrading other facilities or was it always Macquarie Point?
PRIME MINISTER: If you can suggest a site that is equivalent to this on the waterfront of this size, that's equivalent to this for an urban development project, I would be happy to look at it. At the moment, right around Australia, you know what, there is one site like this. One. Which is so large and that has such enormous potential, which is just not being realised. I note some of the calls for affordable housing. That is one of the things that we are doing on this site, in order to make sure that why shouldn't someone in social or affordable housing have access to this unbelievable view right here in this great city of Hobart? I was very critical of the former New South Wales Government for flogging off all the housing around The Rocks and Millers Point in my city of Sydney. I grew up in public housing. And it seemed to me a great thing. I used to drive across the Sydney Harbour Bridge when I had visitors and say, ‘Isn't that a good thing that there are pensioners and it was purpose-built for people with disabilities’. It was purpose-built and then flogged off. I used to say, ‘Isn't it a good thing’. It says a lot about Australia and our view about equity and the fair go that working-class people have a view of the Opera House, not just very wealthy people. What this is about here is a vision about giving affordable housing, right here for essential workers, working at the hospital and working in the area, that sort of access. And that is the vision that I have, that is the vision that the Housing Minister, Julie Collins, certainly will ensure happens as part of the Commonwealth contribution.
PRIME MINISTER: I know it is a vision that the Tasmanian Government are supporting as well. This is a pristine site that it can't just stay like this. It has been like this since 2012. The truth is not enough has been done. Governments have come together now to drive this change. And drive it, we will.
JOURNALIST: Will you have any other things in the Budget to help Tasmanians with the things they're concerned about?
PRIME MINISTER: We have a lot of things in the Budget. Yesterday, we announced $2.2 billion for health, additional, strengthening on top of the measures we have already announced to strengthen Medicare here in Tasmania. Incentives for GPs to stay after-hours. More flexibility, in terms of payments to deliver comprehensive services. A register of patients to make a difference for those who are regularly turning up to emergency departments to make sure that we reach out and give them the services that they need.
On Wednesday, we announced our changes to pharmaceuticals, so that people could get scripts for two months rather than one month. Every dollar that is saved to the taxpayers, over a billion dollars, we will put back into programs to support community pharmacy. It will mean that people who need regular medication will need, instead of regular visits to their GP, taking up those places, they will need to halve their visits to the GP but it will halve the costs of their medicines, whether it is for diabetes or heart conditions, making an enormous difference to their cost of living. They are just two of the measures that we have had announced this week.
You will see more measures to support cost of living in the Budget in 10 days’ time. And we have had, continually, a number of meetings of the Expenditure Review Committee. I am very proud of the Budget that we have put together which is about taking pressure off the cost of living but it is also about showing our responsible economic management to make sure we put that downward pressure on inflation, which is necessary. We saw the figures this week with inflation continuing to be in decline, giving hope that our prediction, and the prediction of Treasury, that inflation had peaked at the end of last year will continue. But my Government is a responsible Government.
JOURNALIST: Just back on migration. The Opposition says this shows that the Government is planning a big Australia by stealth. What is your reaction to this?
PRIME MINISTER: They are opposed to everything, aren't they? Is what they're saying that we shouldn't have students coming here? Is that what they're saying? The figures, our population will be less than was predicted by their Government, by them when they were in office. There has been a pandemic. It meant our borders were closed, it meant people weren't coming in. What we have announced is a comprehensive migration plan that we announced on Wednesday of this week, or Thursday with Clare O'Neil at the National Press Club. The truth is our migration system that we inherited was a bit of a mess. There were a million people in the queue for visas. We have reduced that by half. But we are also making sure that we get more permanent residents here. And we make no apologies that what we are doing is getting rid of the idea that people can be temporary migrants on a permanent basis and making sure that we give people the security that is necessary. One of the things we announced just last weekend was for New Zealanders who are here, who have been here for four years, to allow them to have that path to permanency as well, just as Australians are entitled to in New Zealand. We have said, if you look at the measures that we have put in place that we were calling for, it will actually mean less migration than was envisaged. But it will be the right migration. The right migration that makes the right contribution to the country.
JOURNALIST: How hard did Tasmania Labor try to raise their views on this stadium with you, saying it was not the right tone?
PRIME MINISTER: People are entitled to have their views. I am here today to announce the Government's position on this. We engage all the time. And today, you have seen some examples of, in our great democracy, people will come and express their opinion. That is fine. I work with people. And I continue and will continue to work very closely with Rebecca White and her team. But I will continue as well to work with governments right around the country.
JOURNALIST: An Australian man has been arrested in Aceh, he was going on a naked rampage. Will you provide consular support for him?
PRIME MINISTER: I am not familiar with that. And I don't make comments about things that happen overseas without being properly briefed. DFAT, when incidents occur where Australia is involved, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade do a very good job.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned Optus Stadium a number of times. That stadium blew out in terms of costing. I believe your answer was slightly interrupted so I apologise for not hearing it. Who will be paying for the blow-outs of the stadium? And do you have any workings of what that might look like?
PRIME MINISTER: One of the things that there is an opportunity for – I will give you the big tip here – when something happens like this, you can look for - What happens if there is another global pandemic? What happens if a range of things occur? Or you can be optimistic. This has been a lot of work that has gone into this urban redevelopment program. A lot of work. Costings have been done, they have been done by departments. Our contribution is capped, as the Commonwealth contribution always is, for something like that. But I have confidence that the Tasmanian Government will be able to get this project right.
JOURNALIST: It might be a question for the Premier, has there been a guarantee given to the AFL that they (inaudible)?
PREMIER OF TASMANIA: This is a huge opportunity. And while some focus on the stadium, what today is about is far greater. It is about our Antarctic precinct, a gateway to the Antarctic, it is about mixed social and affordable housing, it's about our transport networks, it's about opportunities for business and it is also about creating something really special that all Tasmanians can embrace but also all Tasmanians can be involved with, in terms of its creation. We have done our due diligence. We will continue to dot every I and cross every T. I am a glass half full kind of guy. That is why I am standing here, saying I won't say no to opportunity for all Tasmanians. That is why we have worked so closely with the Federal Government on the urban renewable project. But also, that is why I have worked so closely with the Federal Government on improving our primary healthcare services as well. Housing, the investment that we are putting into housing and health, public safety and education into Tasmania. All those things continue and more. What is important is that we are here today with a Federal Labor Government, a Tasmanian Liberal Government working together in the best interests of all Tasmanians. And we will continue to manage this project with an inch of our lives to ensure we dot every I, cross every T, to bring this home. And we will.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).
PREMIER OF TASMANIA: I am not a pessimistic person. How could I be pessimistic about the state of Tasmania that is leading the nation in many economic indicators, that has beautiful, natural environments that has some of the cleverest people in the world, a population that's grown some 50,000 more over the course of the last five years, more young people coming to Tasmania. And I remember a time in the 1990s when our young people in Tasmania were fleeing our shores looking for opportunity. We now have young people coming to our shores, embracing opportunity. And that is what I am about as Tasmania, more than glass half full, optimistic, not pessimistic and I will never say, ‘No’. I will always embrace an opportunity for Tasmania. And that is exactly why I have worked so hard on this project, so hard on securing a once in a life time opportunity for this project and indeed an AFL team and working with the Federal Government to ensure that every single Tasmanian has the best of opportunity to live here, to work here and to raise a family here.
JOURNALIST: Are you going to Kyle Sandilands' wedding? And will you be DJing?
PRIME MINISTER: We are on the big picture now. When Kyle talked to me, I remember having a discussion.
PRIME MINISTER: Kyle and Tegan have a relationship. And the thing that occurs is at a wedding, it is a public expression in front of people, invited guests, of love between two people. That is a good thing. I enjoy weddings. And I will be going to the wedding.
JOURNALIST: Will you be DJing?
PRIME MINISTER: No. Baby Otto, as well, is an expression of the love between Kyle and Tegan. That is a good thing. Yes, I was invited to the wedding. Yes, I was invited in the context of Kyle saying how happy he was with Tegan, with this relationship of his and with baby Otto coming along. And I look forward to witnessing their expression of love between two people this afternoon. Thanks very much.