PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s great to be here in St Mary’s today with the Premier of course, Gladys Berejiklian and Stuart Ayres and our candidates here, Melissa and Sarah from Lindsay and Macquarie and of course we’ve got Alex Hawke here as well here in Western Sydney, out in Mitchell. The Western Sydney International Nancy Bird Walton Airport is a complete game-changer for Sydney, for New South Wales and for our country. This is something both the Premier and I have shared as a vision for many, many years. To see this project coming together now - just a week ago we were out naming the Airport, last year we were there turning the first sod at the Airport – to see it now become a reality after a generation and more of waiting, I think it’s an exciting time for Sydney. It’s an exciting time for our state and for our country.
These are the projects, these are the initiatives, this is the vision that builds the future of our country. I’m pleased to be here today with the Premier to say that as part of the announcement that was made yesterday, a $7 billion project to develop the North South Link and the works on the Airport to make sure that the Airport is rail ready at the time of it’s opening, the Commonwealth will be investing $3.5 billion in that project.
That $3.5 billion is made up of essentially three components. There is the further feasibility works that are being done over the balance of this year. There is the construction works being done, together with the State Government – that’s what we’re going to see more of - the construction works being done on two components and that's the New South Wales Stage 1 Link which centers right here in St Marys and secondly on the on-site work that is being done on the airport itself. Then, there is the Elizabeth Drive overpass as well, with some $61 million.
So this is a true partnership between the State and the Federal Government to make this project happen. I'm working with premiers right across the country to deliver important projects, whether it's here today where we have such a strong partnership to make these things happen here in New South Wales, or it's in Victoria, Western Australia or anywhere else in the country. Today, we were able to announce that we were concluding the Geelong City Deal with Premier Andrews and so we're signing that and here we are with the New South Wales Premier achieving what we need to achieve here. So thank you very much, Gladys. This has been a great team effort and I want to congratulate you for your launch yesterday. The visionary outlook you have for our State and the great team you’re taking forward, we could not be more pleased to be backing you and your team in, making your economy strong. Because when you make your economy strong, this is what you can do.
THE HON GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN MP, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Great, thank you PM. I want to thank the PM for confirming the $3.5 billion for this much-needed project. This is fantastic news for Western Sydney.
When I'm looking at the big picture, yes this is fantastic for New South Wales, but it’s also great for the nation. This is a nation-building project and the airport city that we are building around the Airport is going to be a game-changer for attracting jobs of the future, the research and development of the future and of course, being able to access that precinct with a rail line is just a complete game-changer.
I was very pleased to announce yesterday that the State Government will be contributing $2 billion towards this project over what we call the forwards, over the next three to four years and of course the balance of that money to make sure the first stage is completed by 2026 when the Airport is open. We always welcome extra funds, but we’re a Government that gets on with the job of delivering and only in May, we will see the people use the North West rail line for the first time, a metro rail system. Then, that will then offer a connection to this rail line and I'm really excited by that prospect, because what it means for Western Sydney is connection to jobs, connection to great universities, connection to the Airport obviously, but a complete game-changer for our state and I also believe for the nation.
THE HON STUART AYRES MP, MINISTER FOR WESTERN SYDNEY: This project completely changes the face of outer Western Sydney. It is the rail line that the outer Western Sydney community needs and has been demanding. Both the State and Commonwealth Governments are investing billions of dollars to bring jobs closer to where people live and it’s absolutely critical that they can access public transport to get to the locations where those jobs are. This is a game-changer for this community. It’s about making sure they have got the infrastructure they need to drive the economic prosperity and social opportunities that are needed here in Western Sydney. But also, it’s pumping the national economy. This is the stuff that really moves the dial and it brings jobs closer to where people live and really leverages the major, long-term decisions about an airport and this really makes sure that people understand it's not just an airport, it is actually about creating jobs closer to where people live.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Stuart. Well as Gladys said yesterday, let's get it done.
PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Absolutely.
PRIME MINISTER: That’s what we’re doing in New South Wales and the important thing about our governments is, we are getting it done together. The partnership that we have together is getting things done here in New South Wales, with Liberal-led Governments at state and federal level and we look forward to doing that into future. Happy to take questions obviously on the project and then we can move to other things.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, when do you plan to get it done?
PRIME MINISTER: This will be ready at the time of the Airport being opened. So that's in a few years’ time in 2026 and that's the project. That's the project, that's what we've been working towards. We've already had site works happening already on Western Sydney International Airport, you've seen that. So it’s all underway and it’s all coming together and this is a critical component of the project.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister getting it done the way you want to requires both your governments being reelected. You've just lost the 50th Newspoll in a row, what are your thoughts?
PRIME MINISTER: We've got the plan and we've got the record of delivery. You know what, one of the things you do when you lead a government - and Gladys knows this very well - is you're never distracted by the noise. You just focus on the work you're doing for the people you work for. Which in Gladys' case is the people of New South Wales and for me, it’s all Australians. These projects are changing the lives and will change the lives of Australians for the better, in the future. So our plan is clear, our joint plans are clear and they will deliver for the people of Western Sydney, for New South Wales and Australia. So I just always remain focused on the job I've got and I never get distracted by the things at the fringes or the noise.
JOURNALIST: I guess it’s a question for both of you, with the polls where they are, what do you think it means for both of your campaigns, is the Liberal brand damaging your campaign at a state level and are you trying to perhaps, get a glow from the [inaudible]?
PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: I think it's fair to say that each of us are working hard in our own jurisdictions. My job as the Premier of New South Wales is working my guts out for our 8 million citizens, and of course the Prime Minister is focusing on the nation. That's what we’re elected to do and that's what we continue to do.
PRIME MINISTER: Australians, I think, are very sensible. Australians at the end of the day will make a judgement in a couple of weeks' time about what’s right for New South Wales and they will see the track record of the New South Wales Government has delivered on the ground and importantly, as we heard yesterday, services for the future. Our Government is following the same path.
We have cleaned up the mess that Labor left behind, just as the State Government had to clean up the mess that Labor left behind.
We will hand down the first surplus Budget on the 2nd of April, in 12 years.
We have got employment levels back in this country, to levels higher than were achieved by the Howard Government, after they fell under the Labor Government.
We've been rebuilding from the losses and the waste and the mismanagement of Labor years. Now, as is the case in New South Wales, they’re are in a position to re-invest in those services and that's what a strong economy is all about. It’s about giving yourself the capacity to invest in the health and the education services - which is exactly what Gladys announced yesterday with some incredibly exciting projects. That’s what you can do when you have a strong economy.
Under Labor, the economy will be weaker. Wages can't grow in an economy that is weaker and taxes are higher. So I think Australians will weigh that up in the weeks ahead and there’s plenty of time between now and the election to do that.
JOURNALIST: But that's clearly not cutting through, why is your government so unpopular?
PRIME MINISTER: Look, there have been plenty of distractions over the last couple of weeks, I don't deny that, but they haven't distracted me. I’ve just remained very focused on our agenda for the future, which is to keep our economy strong, to keep Australians safe and to bring Australians together. I believe that’s what Australians want to see for their future and that's what I remain focused on. I’ll be focused on it every day, every day, undistracted from here to the election. Because Australians know that I don't get distracted by the noise and I will remain absolutely focused on what matters most to them.
JOURNALIST: Would you like to see Barnaby Joyce as the Leader of the National Party?
PRIME MINISTER: We have a fantastic leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and there will be no change to that.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about that being a distraction [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: As I said, I don’t get distracted.
JOURNALIST: What about the idea of a leadership spill, surely that’s the last thing [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: I think that’s all nonsense.
JOURNALIST: But what about [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: I think that’s all nonsense, I think we have the Deputy Prime Minister in Michael McCormack. I mean this is what Michael and I have been focused on, this is what matters to people; Michael and I have been focused on the drought, as Gladys has been focused on the drought. That's what people in rural and regional areas are interested in at the moment, the drought. Rebuilding the livestock industry in North Queensland, that's where our focus has been. That's what we're 100 per cent focused on and I believe that is what people - whether it's in North Queensland, Central Queensland, outer Western New South Wales, Gippsland in Victoria where I was recently with drought-affected farmers down in that part of the State - they're interested in that. That's what I'm interested in and that's what we will continue to focus on and I know that's what Michael is focused on. So that's where we will be every single day.
Australians will see that and they will have a clear choice, a very clear choice; a Morrison-led Liberal and National Government at a federal level or a Bill Shorten-led Labor government. Here it’s the same; a Gladys Berejiklian-led Liberal Government here in New South Wales, or a Daley-led Labor government in New South Wales. These are very clear choices for the people to make in New South Wales and at a national level. We are very confident about the plans we’re putting forward and the judgement of Australians to make the right choice.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister just on energy, when will we find out whether there will be new coal-fired generation [inaudible]?
PRIME MINISTER: Look, we have a process we're working through, but what I know is this; for such a project to proceed, it would require the approval of the Queensland State Government. Now, the Queensland State Government has no intention of approving any such projects at all. So I tend to work in the area of the practical, the things that actually can happen. What actually can happen is the investments that we’re making in renewable projects and reliable projects - which have been the Snowy
2.0 project which I mentioned yesterday as well as the Marinus Link project in Tasmania, which connects up to the pumped hydro projects in Tasmania - because these things actually will happen, actually can happen.
See, governments have to focus on what they will actually do and can actually deliver and that's what I'm focused on, not in hypothetical debates. I'm focused on things that we can actually do to keep the pressure downward on power prices and ensure that we deliver the reliable and sustainable and renewable energy for the future. That's what our Government is putting forward.
Thanks very much. Great to be here.