Press Conference - Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan The Northern Road

Transcript
26 Sep 2016
Harrington Park NSW
Prime Minister
E&OE

There is real action here in Western Sydney, you can see our $3.6 billion plan happening right now. This is creating jobs in Western Sydney right now. We are working with the State Government - I'm here with Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, the local State Member Chris Patterson, Marise Payne, the Senator from Western Sydney and Defence Minister and of course, Angus Taylor, Member for Hume and the Assistant Minister for Cities.

We are all here committed to the jobs and growth that is going to arrive here in Western Sydney as we put in place the infrastructure for the future. There are a million people will move into Western Sydney, west of Blacktown in the next 20 years. As you know, in the past, governments have often put the infrastructure in after the population growth. What we're doing here is planning ahead. We are building an airport. We're building the roads. We're planning for the rail. We are ensuring that there will be the infrastructure to support greater amenity, greater employment opportunities, greater livability here in Western Sydney. This is critically important infrastructure and it is, as you can see around us, it is happening here, generating jobs in the construction, jobs and growth in the construction but, of course, as you build the arteries of this great Western Sydney city, this great city here in the west where the growth is coming.

I said a million people - that is the equivalent of Adelaide, west of Blacktown in the next 20 years. This is massive growth. It is massive opportunities but it needs the investment and we are putting that in place. We are providing, as you know, as Duncan was saying earlier, the Federal Government, my Government, is providing 80 per cent of the funds for this and we are working in partnership with the State Government that is doing a fantastic job, as our partner.

As you know we have a city deal for Western Sydney and what that is going to do is ensure that every level of government, the Federal Government, the State Government and local government, work together, coordinate to ensure that the infrastructure is in the right place, that all of these levels of government are working together to achieve that goal of a more liveable city, more opportunities for jobs, less need to commute closer into the city, more opportunities here, greater amenity, a greater, stronger, more prosperous future. I'm delighted to be here with you Duncan. I know you’re a great partner so tell us a bit about your vision for Western Sydney.

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

Prime Minister, first of all thank you for working with us. We love to work with you - 80 per cent of your money and 20 per cent of our money.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it's all the people's money, Duncan. Every cent of it.

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

Exactly, and it is delivering for the people of Western Sydney. That is a great deal. That is what we need.

Today is the second report on what we are doing here and the report is pretty damn good. I wish my school reports were as good as the report that we have got here, PM, on the infrastructure.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

The only blemish, if you would call it a blemish, is that we are slightly ahead of where we thought we would be. That means we put a little bit of extra money out but that means we are moving faster. Last year the Opposition tried...

PRIME MINISTER:

So on budget and ahead of schedule.

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

On budget and ahead of schedule.

PRIME MINISTER:

What a great team. Well done, guys. Great work.

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

It's pretty good. The key to it is that the majority of people working out here come from Western Sydney. The contractors, the subcontractors, the employees are people from the local area. So the roads are going in before the airport at a time when it's needed. The diggers are here. The scrapers are here. The graders are here. If it was a previous government, there would have been piles and piles of glossy brochures and nothing happening. Your government and our government said we'd get on with it and we have.

PRIME MINISTER:

We're doing just that. What about the big city plan? Angus Taylor, the Assistant Minister for Cities.

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CITIES AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION:

Thanks Prime Minister. It is great to be here with the Prime Minister in the great electorate of Hume but I’m wearing two hats - one is as the local member but also as the Assistant to the Prime Minister with responsibility for cities. Of course what you see in front of you today is the critical part of the growth of this part of Sydney and that's the road development here on The Northern Road. But there are many other developments going on - on Narellan Road, and on Bringelly Road but that is one part of what you see. What is also going on here is two other important things - the first is very significant jobs growth.

There is direct jobs growth around the road - 400 jobs at the moment which will increase significantly over time. What we are also doing is connecting up the south west with the major new job centres that we see growing over the coming years around the new Western Sydney Airport. Airports are magnets for local jobs. This is such a great opportunity for south-western Sydney and Western Sydney more generally. We really intend and will capitalise on that job growth opportunity through the city deal between state, federal and local government here in this region. And of course the other part of this is housing. What this is enabling is major new housing developments in the area. We know that if we want to have more affordable, more accessible housing, we need more housing. That is what we are getting around here with major new infrastructure developments, both roads now and the work we are doing on rail options in the future. These are the visible signs of a major new city being built here in the west and south-west which will serve Sydney for many decades to come.

PRIME MINISTER:

Fantastic. We're happy to take questions about our big plans for Western Sydney.

JOURNALIST:

Two million people in 20 years is a huge amount of people. But are we going to need to reconsider the funding models for building these roads because at the moment it doesn’t look all that sustainable?

PRIME MINISTER:

This infrastructure here is fully funded and fully budgeted for. In terms of rail infrastructure, in particular, one of the priorities that we have and Angus has been very involved in this as my Assistant Minister for Cities and I know we are working closely with the State Government on this, is value capture. That is, to ensure that part of the accretion in value of the real estate consequent on building the rail line or the transport infrastructure is recovered to help fund it. So this is something we've done a bit in Australia, we haven’t done nearly enough of it and it is going to be very important as part of the, particularly of the rail projects here in Western Sydney.

As you know, we have the options paper out at the moment. We are very committed to having a complete transport solution here in Western Sydney which will of necessity involve roads. You can see the evidence of that around you. But also substantial new investment in rail, including what is already on the schedule at the moment. But substantial additional rail infrastructure, not just to get people to and from the airport, but to improve the connectivity throughout the region.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, is rail though in your mind the priority of the airport development?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's both. With this sort of transport infrastructure and Duncan, please feel free to comment on this as well, it is really all of the above. It's not either or. As the city becomes bigger, more people are moving in - as it will become denser you need to have additional investments in mass transit and rail. The State Government is making enormous investments supported by us in mass transit as well.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, what have you authorised Scott Ryan and George Brandis to discuss with Mark Dreyfus - or to negotiate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Just before we move on to gay marriage, any other questions on infrastructure in Western Sydney?

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask - how realistic is a 30-minute city do you think?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is as I said earlier, it is not, when you talk about a 30 minute city, you are not saying you can go from the northern extremity of Sydney to the southern extremity in 30 minutes or from the eastern most point to the western most point. The point is to ensure that the development is balanced so that wherever you live there are going to be within a reasonable distance, 30-minutes is the number that people talk about, within a reasonable distance there are plenty of job opportunities, opportunities for education at every level, there are opportunities for recreation. The difficulty we've had in Sydney, historically, is that the centre of Sydney, the CBD if you like, is actually not at the centre at all. It's on the eastern perimeter of the city.

That is one of the major focuses of the State Government and we're absolutely committed to the same objective - to ensure there are more jobs in Western Sydney so that – because that is where the population growth is going to be - so that people can live in Western Sydney, work in Western Sydney. Of course have excellent transport links to commute to other parts of the city, but be in a position where they have got options within reasonable access. That is what a 30-minute city means. Duncan do you want to add to that?

NSW MINISTER FOR ROADS, MARITIME AND FREIGHT:

No no, well covered.

PRIME MINISTER:

Very good, that's my report card. Tick! Very good. Okay. Please – you had a question.

JOURNALIST:

What have you authorised George Brandis and Scott Ryan to negotiate with Mark Dreyfus regarding the same-sex marriage plebiscite?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's really up to the Labor Party to tell us what they propose. As you know, three years ago, Bill Shorten said publicly that he supported a plebiscite as a means of resolving the question about whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. And so clearly he doesn't have any objection in principle to a plebiscite. What we've said is if you have got something to put to us, we'll listen carefully and consider it. It's really - the ball is in Labor's court on this issue.

We've set out a plan. I just say to Bill Shorten and the Labor Party and in fact to everyone that wants to see same-sex couples being able to marry, if Labor supports the plebiscite it will be held on the 11th of February. I believe it will be carried. I certainly will be voting yes. I believe it will be carried. All the polls indicate that. If that's the case, then it will be legislated by the Parliament almost immediately thereafter within weeks. It is very close and the only obstacle to that is achieving support in the Senate.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce has doubled down on claims that there will be no compromise on the plebiscite. Does that mean this plebiscite is doomed before the conversations have even begun?

PRIME MINISTER:

We're waiting to hear from the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST:

Is the removal of public funding for the –

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks for the inquiry, but I'm not going to canvas any possibilities or variations on a theme. It is really now - we have set out a very, we’ve got a fair question. We’ve got fair funding. A fair conventional electoral process. A tight timetable. You know, it's been very well designed. Now if the Labor Party want to propose some changes then they should put them to us because we know we have 30 votes in the Senate. So as Senator Payne understands very well, she’s acutely aware of the mathematics in the Senate so we need the support of others and of course if the Labor Party supports it - if Labor want same-sex couples to be able to marry in February, then they should support the plebiscite. If they've got any - they clearly don't object to it as a matter of principle, otherwise Bill Shorten wouldn't have supported it publicly three years ago. So he has to tell us what he wants and we'll consider it. If we can agree, well, that would be good. The ball is in his court.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, there is a story in The Australian today speculating that Australian police may have trouble jailing potential Jihadi extremists who return to Australia because simply they can't find the evidence that is admissible in Australian courts. Is that at all a concern for you?

The issue of foreign fighters coming back to Australia after the continuing roll-back and defeat of the Daesh group in Syria and Iraq is a very live concern. We've made a number of changes to our security legislation in order to anticipate that. We have the ability to seek control orders in circumstances where it may be difficult for evidentiary reasons to secure a prosecution. I can assure you that speaking on behalf of my federal colleagues here and in particular the Defence Minister, who of course is part of the National Security Committee of Cabinet, we are resolutely, remorselessly focused on keeping Australians safe and we pay very close attention to the Australians that may seek to return from the conflict zone in Syria.

JOURNALIST:

Would you like to see more done in terms of information sharing between Australia and other nations to help build up on the potential evidence that may be needed in court?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have very extensive intelligence sharing arrangements with our allies and partners, in particular, of course the Five Eyes countries. But one of the matters that I discussed at the G20, at the East Asia Summit and indeed at the meetings in the UN last week was increasing the amount of intelligence sharing and cooperation in respect of terrorism - in particular. Intelligence is the key and we are working more closely with other countries, like-minded nations, allies, partners, to that end. It is a very, very key priority and you can see my visits in Washington last week were with one intelligence agency after another. You can understand what an important priority it is.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, do you support Premier Mike Baird's banning of the greyhounds industry in New South Wales?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a matter for the State Government I'm pleased to say.

JOURNALIST:

Yeah but –

PRIME MINISTER:

I will leave that to the State Government and I won't trespass on their responsibilities in that matter at all.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just again on Syria, do you believe Russia has been duplicicists in negotiating a sham ceasefire with Syria and breaching it to help the Assad regime reclaim Aleppo?

PRIME MINISTER:

I was just speaking with the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop just a moment before this press conference. Look, this is a shocking state of affairs. The breakdown of the ceasefire is a tragedy. Lives are being lost, the city is being destroyed and we call on all the parties to the conflict. We particularly call on Russia which has the greatest influence with the Assad regime to ensure that the ceasefire is reinstated.

For the sake of humanity, for the sake of humanity, this ceasefire must be reinstated so aid can reach the community there in Aleppo. The Syrian conflict is worse and more intractable now than it was a year ago, when I last spoke to a number of world leaders about it. I've just had meetings and discussions with a whole range of leaders from Russia and the United States, obviously, but many of the regional powers as well - Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and so forth.

The situation in Syria is getting worse. The conflict is becoming more intractable and the global community, including Australia calls on all the parties to ceasefire and we particularly call on Russia because it arguably alone has the critical influence that will ensure that the Assad regime complies with a ceasefire. The Assad regime has other sponsors of course, notably Iran, but its survival, its viability, such as it is, is entirely dependent on Russian support. So President Putin can ensure the Assad regime ceases fire and supports the ceasefire and participates in it and he should do so for the sake of humanity.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, on the Newstart payments - what do you think are the chances of actually mustering up that crossbench support to make the proposed changes you want to see in place?

PRIME MINISTER:

As I have said earlier, we have 30 seats in the Senate so we have plenty of negotiation ahead of us. But I’m not going to speculate on those negotiations. Any other questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, just a really quick one - do you think young people in back to work programs should have welfare payments cut if they fail to turn up to work?

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me just say it is very important as the Minister has said, as Christian Porter has said, that our welfare system encourages people, ensures that people who have the ability to work to get back into work. The best form of welfare is a job. We all know that. We all know that. So it's vital that the welfare system is always reviewed and designed so that it achieves that purpose of ensuring that Australians are not dependent on welfare for their whole lives, of course. Many Australians for reason of disability, for example, will be dependent on welfare all their lives. But those Australians who are able to get back into work, want to work and we should ensure that the system encourages that. Everyone agrees with that. Everyone agreed with that. The question is how do you do it. That's the debate. The debate is how do you achieve it. As I said, the best form of welfare is a job. Employability and employment is the key.

Thanks very much.