Interview with Murray Jones, 4CA

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22 Jul 2021
Prime Minister

MURRAY JONES: Prime Minister, good morning. 

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Murray. Good to be with you. 

JONES: You too. And, look, I should imagine, you know, when you’ve got this unity, bipartisan, working together, it is a reason for celebrations for the 2032 Olympics.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s true. And, you know, governments actually work together a lot more than I think is, sort of shows up on the nightly news. Of course, you know, when there are tensions and differences, they always get a lot more coverage. But, you know, so much of the time governments are working together. And, this has been a project just like that, a true partnership. It’s not just a funding partnership, it’s an actual partnership. So, it’s not like, oh, we’ll send you the, half the money for what you propose to do. The big difference between the south east Queensland, the Brisbane games, and the Sydney games is in Sydney that was basically done by the New South Wales Government. They paid for it, they did it. They did a tremendous job. The Queensland Government said to us that they wouldn’t be able to do that and to be able to go forward. So, they sought our help. So, it’s 50-50 on everything – who goes on the organising committee, you know, the scoping of projects, all of those things. 

But, importantly for North Queensland, I mean, Warren Entsch has been making this point. This is a great opportunity for right across Queensland, the training base, the facilities for people to come and be there before games, all of that, and not just in the games year. I mean, people over several years before games will want to come and be, understand the conditions in Australia and set themselves up there and become familiar. So, there’s a lot of opportunities there. I know Warren’s pushing that. I mean, he was, you know, he was in Parliament when the 2000 games were on. So, he knows what the opportunities are. And, so, he’s pushing that, which I think, I think is really, really good. And, the tourism side of it, well, you know, who better than North Queensland to take advantage of that. I mean, that’s a great opportunity.

JONES: There’s no doubt about that. And, I guess Australia-wide, you know, there’s some really good options to have a lot of people – Tasmania, the whole lot. I guess we’ll have a lot of people coming to Australia.


JONES: You know, when it comes to these type of things moving forward, it is, you know, a concern certainly of some people that it’s going to be very, very expensive. Let’s talk about some of the economic benefits and, you know, the possibility that it actually will be cost neutral.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, $18 billion or thereabouts is the estimate of social and economic benefits of the games themselves, and much of the infrastructure, over 80 per cent of what was involved, is, are things that are already in place or will be in place. So, it’s really building on an existing infrastructure base for what are growing populations. And, then, frankly, that’s true for North Queensland as well. In the recent Budget, you know, we had the $400 million for additional funding for the Bruce Highway, the $240 million for the Cairns Western Arterial Road duplication. So, all of the big infrastructure improvements, transport that’s going, you know, it’s $10 billion that investment overall in the Bruce Highway. All of that continues. I mean, the needs that are there in Queensland are still there, games or not, and particularly up in North Queensland where there are so many opportunities that we need to set up with this infrastructure investment. And, you know, it’s a big state and there are a lot of big challenges. And, we can, we continue to spend record amounts investing into Queensland, particularly transport infrastructure projects. 

JONES: You know, we do have a bit of a flow since the pandemic of quite a few people, you know, moving to regional and rural areas in Queensland. Now, Robbie Katter yesterday put out a media release. It was actually titled, 'Dark ages descend on regions as Brisbane parties'. What guarantees can you give us that the 2032 Olympics will not create a vacuum whereby, you know, that regional federal infrastructure will actually be lost to the south east corner?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think, then just what I just said. I mean, in the Budget, that $240 million for example, for the Cairns Western Arterial Road duplication. I mean, that didn’t require the Olympics. And, we know what the needs are up there, and members like Warren and others are always bringing those projects to our attention. And, we get, we’re getting on with them. And, you know, there’s, whether it’s the, I know it’s a bit away from where you are, but, you know, the Kennedy Developmental Road between Lynd-Hughenden, I mean, Robbie would know all about that.

JONES: Sure.

PRIME MINISTER: And, I like Robbie, I often see him when I’m up there in western Queensland, out there in Cloncurry. But, you know, I think it’s important to be positive about this. There are big opportunities for the whole country. And, as you say, in North Queensland, yes. As the Prime Minister, I want to see opportunities for Tasmania, as you say, and other parts of the country. That’s what happened with the Sydney Olympics. It reached everywhere. The whole world looks at the whole country. Brisbane is where the actual games will be, but the whole country will be on show, and that’s a great opportunity. We saw that with Sydney 20 years ago. And, the same is going to be true, particularly for Queensland this time. 

So, I’d encourage people to get on board, get positive. I mean, everyone can have a whinge, you know, having a whinge is the easiest thing to do. It doesn’t take much, you know. Everyone will listen to a whinge, too. And, you know, Robbie’s always been a very positive guy, and I just encourage everybody to get positive about this and look for the opportunities, work with their local governments, work with the State and Federal Government, and let’s make this a gold medal for North Queensland as much as anywhere else.

JONES: And look, you know, if I may say, some long-term projects, particularly an alternative route over the Kuranda Range, you know, we do need the Federal and the State Governments. There’s a degree of paralysis there. So, that’s certainly moving forward something that we need to, to earmark.

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, we’ll be happy … We’ll keep working on all of these things together, and that’s, I think that’s the key. We’re very sensitive to what the needs are up there, and Warren’s done just such an amazing job for North Queensland. And, and, you know, that’s why I’m so pleased that he’s, he’s going around again because North Queensland still needs him and, you know, the country still needs him as part of our team.

JONES: Well, look, PM, without going into finer detail, you’ve certainly been copping it the last 24 hours with respect to the vaccine rollout. And, look, you know, as you well know, we still lag behind Mexico, Colombia, Latvia with our vaccination rollout. But, I do accept that vaccination rates have increased dramatically over the, over the last week or so. So, we’ll move on from the gotchas overnight. But, you know, with the deepening concerns …

PRIME MINISTER: Well, just on that, before you go further, though, I mean, moving on from, sure, but it hasn’t happened over a couple of weeks. I mean, this has happened over months now that we’re building up our vaccine rates across the country. I mean, back in May we had 2.1 million. In June, we had 3.4 [million] In July, we’ll be over four million. We’ve got a million doses coming in from Pfizer every week. We’re now vaccinating people at the rate of one million a week.

JONES: Sure.

PRIME MINISTER: That’s higher than, that’s, that is the rate you need to be able to get this job done. So, as I said yesterday, I take responsibility. We’ve had a lot, we’ve had problems, many of them completely outside our control. But, at the same time, it’s also about how you fix problems. And, I’ve taken responsibility for that, too. And, this isn’t, we’ve still got a long way to go. And, I think we’ll be in that position by the end of the year where everyone who is seeking to have one will have that opportunity. There’s enough supply and points of presence for that. And, I’d encourage you, particularly if you’re in the older age groups, go and get that AstraZeneca vaccine. It’s your protection. And, you know, these, the Delta strain of this variant, this virus is highly transmissible, and your best protection is not to wait. Please go and get that vaccine now.

JONES: Well, look, as we do wrap up this morning, you know, speaking of the Delta variant, I am keen to talk about the options that are available to you federally with a 'no jab, no play' policy. Now, this vaccine hesitancy, along with some indulging in an anti-science, anti-vaccine nonsense, really presents a major internal threat to our communities, the economy and, of course, our health system. Do you have options with respect to to actual 'no jab, no play' policy here in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, no, they largely are all at the state level. I mean, you know, people attending venues, going to restaurants or things like that, they’re things states will have to ultimately determine. But, I do know this much. If you are vaccinated, you’re less likely to catch the virus, you’re less likely to transmit it, you’re significantly less likely to get serious illness, and you’re less likely to die. So, getting vaccinated protects you, it protects your family. We’ve had the terrible situations in Sydney in these, in these recent weeks where people who weren’t vaccinated contracted the virus, translated it to their elderly relatives, and they died, and it’s heartbreaking. The vaccine saves lives. It could save your life and it could also save someone else’s life that you come in contact with. So, that’s why it’s so important. I hear, you know, hear all the conspiracy theories about it, you know, it’ll turn your arm into a magnet and all these sorts of things.

JONES: Sure.

PRIME MINISTER: I mean, this saves lives. We’ve already saved more than 30,000 lives, and that’s based on countries just like us. If we’d had the same death rate of all those countries around the world just like us, more than 30,000 people would be dead right now in Australia. Now, we avoided that, and I’m keen that we keep avoiding it. And, the way to do that, particularly if you’re over 60, go and get that vaccine, please. There’s plenty of it there for you to go and get that vaccine. It’s very important for you to protect yourself and your community and your family. 

JONES: Scott Morrison, been great to talk to you this morning. And I certainly acknowledge, you know, up to a million per week. We’ve got to that point. Let’s hope it continues. Have a great day. Actually, you’re in quarantine at the moment as well, aren’t you?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve been in quarantine for some time. When I came back from overseas from the G7, we’ve had two weeks of quarantine here in The Lodge. I hadn’t seen my family for a month, so I went back to Sydney. So, I entered the lockdown there for two weeks with them. And, and now I’m doing quarantine so I can be in Parliament in two weeks. So, getting plenty of work done, though. I mean, it’s a, it’s a pretty efficient operation we’ve set up here. So, it’s good to be able to get on the phone and have a chat to you this morning, and give all my best up to everyone up there in North Queensland. I’m looking forward to coming up there again, you know, once we get through these sitting periods, I hope, and get myself back out on the road again. I love getting up there. Warren’s doing such a great job, and I appreciate all the support we get from people in North Queensland. And, thanks for all their help and helping us achieve what we have over these last 18 months as we’ve pushed through COVID. And, on the Olympics, it’s a great day for all Queenslanders. Up, up Queensland.

JONES: And look, as I said, I can certainly hear the quiet that’s in the background. So, enjoy the peace and quiet while you’ve got it. But, thank you so much for your time this morning. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have a great day, cheers.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Murray.