Doorstop Interview - Perth

09 Oct 2022
Prime Minister, Premier of Western Australia, Western Australia Minister for Transport, Planning & Ports
opening; floods in NSW; infrastructure; transport; stage three tax cuts; October Budget; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RITA SAFFIOTI, WESTERN AUSTRALIA MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, PLANNING & PORTS: Thank you very much for being here today, Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Premier, Mark McGowan. They will be making some more comments about the opening of this new rail line. It is a very exciting and proud day here at Airport Central. You can see what a fantastic station this is. Can I just thank everyone involved in delivering this project today? It is a very proud day for the state and all the workers involved. This is a significant day for WA. A significant day for Australia. And I welcome the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Rita. And it's fantastic to be here on this historic day. And it is quite extraordinary that back in 2013, as the Infrastructure Minister, we put money into this project for the planning. But it's taken the vision of Mark McGowan's Government to deliver this exciting project. One of six new rail lines, transforming the way that this great global city of Perth operates, making it easier for people to get around, improving the liveability, productivity and sustainability of this great city. And at the same time, of course, we've seen thousands of jobs created as a direct result of this project. This is a great day. And I congratulate all those workers and planners and engineers who have been involved in delivering this fantastic project.

MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thank you, Prime Minister. And can I thank the Commonwealth Government for their contribution towards this important project? This is an historic day. This will be a piece of infrastructure that lasts for centuries to come and will meet the needs of the people of Perth and Western Australia for a very long period into the future. I think what is very important about this is that this project is part of six these new rail lines we're building here in Perth that will meet the long-term needs of the state. That means that we don't have to retrofit these rail lines when suburbs and areas are already built up. And it also means that we futureproof the growth of Perth so that we don't have to spend many times this amount of money on putting railways in place once areas are already built up and you have to go through suburban areas that are very difficult service. This rail line itself is built, or these rail lines, the six rail lines were building, are built at a fraction of the cost of a single rail line in Sydney or Melbourne. And that's the beauty of advanced planning. That's the beauty of a comprehensive plan, which is METRONET, which is designed to meet the long-term needs of Western Australia. This project itself, of course, means that you can go from the city to the airport for $5 and catch a flight, wherever it might be, and $5 back to the city. In Sydney, it costs you $20. So, it's a big saving for families. It will mean that you can use public transport to access the airport. And of course, the people of High Wycombe and Redcliffe and all the surrounding eastern suburbs will have access to a state-of-the-art rail line as well. And it comes on top of the five other rail lines to Yanchep, Thornlie, Morley, Ellenbrook, Byford, Midland, that we are building in addition to this. So, we've very excited that this new rail line is now open. I encourage everyone in Western Australia to take advantage of it and come and use it. And back to the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Happy to take questions. And then, Mark will take questions separately.

JOURNALIST: Just on the floods in New South Wales (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, these floods, I would say to people to listen to the authorities, follow the advice which is there. We know, for example, that you shouldn't drive through floods. And, time and time again, we see people taking risks. This is not a time to take risks. So, my heart goes out to those people who have suffered time and time again, particularly in the recent period. The Federal Government has made available three choppers through our Minister who has advised the New South Wales Government. We remain available to provide assistance should any requests come from the New South Wales Government. This is a difficult time for people in New South Wales. I left Sydney this morning. And of course, it was still raining there in Sydney. So, for people, I just want to say, be safe. And a big thank you to the emergency services personnel, to all those as well. We put thousands of people on standby for Services. Australia, when I spoke to Minister Shorten on Friday, to make sure that that the Federal Government is absolutely prepared and ready to respond very quickly should any need arise.

JOURNALIST: The public is waiting with bated breath to find out which way you're going to go with stage three tax cuts. When will they find that out?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, our position hasn't changed. I've said that repeatedly. And I stand by that comment.

JOURNALIST: Will it change?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, our position hasn't changed.

JOURNALIST: Are you ruling any changes out for the Budget?

PRIME MINISTER: We have a Budget in a couple of weeks. Our position hasn't changed. I don't think the public actually are that engaged. I think some of the media are that engaged in this position.

JOURNALIST: But are you conflicted with what Mr Chalmers is saying?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. What Jim Chalmers is doing as Treasurer is shaping a Budget whereby he's made the obvious statement that monetary policy, which we've seen the fastest, most consistent tightening of monetary policy across the global advanced economies by central banks in decades, that is what we have seen. At that time, fiscal policy should work in concert with that, rather than against. And that is what we have said. That's the context in which we're framing a Budget. We're framing a Budget in which there is a trillion dollars of debt being left by the former Government and frankly, not enough to show for it. So, what we're doing is going through line by line, making sure that we get rid of the waste that is in the Budget. And that will be announced, of course, in just a couple of weeks’ time.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, our position hasn't changed. So, it's very clear. These are due to come in 2024. We're producing a Budget in October 2022.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you're now completely talking about hypotheticals. I've said our position hasn't changed.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible). Peter Dutton has said that it is naive.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'll make this point. I won't be commenting on matters in terms of national security issues. They aren't appropriate to comment on. What I say is that Australia will always, and my Government will prioritise the safety of Australians.

JOURNALIST: The Treasurer does sound like he's softening the public for at least some sort of change to that election policy. Are you giving us a promise that it will go ahead as planned?

PRIME MINISTER: Our position has not changed. Our position has not changed. The truth is that we are focusing on a Budget at very difficult economic circumstances. Difficult economic circumstances that have been made more difficult because of the waste and the rorts that were in the former Government's budgets and their spending of like $19.7 billion given to companies that were actually increasing their profits, not decreasing. This presents a challenge going forward. Labor will always present responsible budgets. That's what we'll be doing in two weeks’ time. And the Treasurer and the Finance Minister are doing a fantastic job at just that. Thanks.

JOURNALIST: Just one on Ukraine. The Russians, Vladimir Putin has suffered another embarrassment that he opened in 2018 (inaudible). Do you have a view on whether this sort of pressure that's continuing to grow on will get him using tactical nuclear weapons?

PRIME MINISTER: What we know is that this is a dangerous time. And that it is one of the pressures that's on the Budget, of course, is defence expenditure. We live in an era where there is strategic competition in our region. And there's great global uncertainty around the world. We did not think that there would be a land war in Europe like we're seeing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We had hoped that that was something that we had put in the past. But I just pay tribute to the extraordinary courage and resilience of the people of Ukraine and the leadership of President Zelenskyy. We have a bipartisan position on this. Both the former Government and my Government have provided substantial resources and infrastructure and military assistance in terms of defence infrastructure, including the Bush Masters to Ukraine, and that's entirely appropriate. I was very proud to visit Ukraine and to meet with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv. And I thank the members of Special Forces and those members of the Australian Defence Force who made that possible. It is a dangerous time. And the people of Ukraine have shown that they will defend their national sovereignty. They will defend their democracy. And that's important because they're not fighting just for themselves. They're fighting for the international rule of law. They're fighting to uphold the principle, which is that nation states’ borders should be respected. And President Putin can fix this by just withdrawing, by withdrawing from this aggressive, illegal act, which is totally against international law. Thanks.