PRIME MINISTER: It’s great to be here with Michelle Landry, it’s tremendous to be back here in Rocky.
AARON STEVENS: Absolutely. Michelle, good morning to you too.
MICHELLE LANDRY: Good morning Aaron good to see you face to face.
STEVENS: Absolutely, Prime Minister first of all, first thing is first. How did you go on the Cup yesterday?
PRIME MINISTER: We came 6th yesterday. But it was great to be backing Youngstar. There was a great story behind Youngstar, and the family. A great Aussie mare. She was the only girl in the field, so I was backing her. Backing the girls. I’ve got two daughters so I’ve got to look them in the eye when I go home.
STEVENS: Always. Good to have you in central Queensland. First official visit but as we were saying just a moment ago, you were only here after the budget a little while ago, and great to see you back in CQ. Terrific that you can bring an announcement with you.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s tremendous, 800 million reasons to be here today with Michelle and that’s to fund the ring road that’s going to take out 18 sets of traffic lights out of the way for road trains and other heavy vehicles that will be coming through and making their way up the coast and I think that’s going to be tremendous for safety too through Rocky throughout the town, I think it’s going to be great for the growth of the town. But it’s also great for the region and the jobs that are going to come just from the construction. More generally I think from the boost to the economy that these big projects give, it’s an 80/20 split. So 80 per cent of this will be funded by the Commonwealth, and that’s the real deal. That’s the real dollars. It’s in the budget. I actually put it in the Budget in May.
STEVENS: Well done.
PRIME MINISTER: So it is locked away, the funding is there, this isn’t a promise this is doing.
STEVENS: This is it.
PRIME MINISTER: This is doing now.
STEVENS: Once again, we see this money come into the region which is fantastic, but we wait for the digging to actually start. When will we see this project start?
PRIME MINISTER: I’ll let Michelle talk a bit about that. There’s all the planning phases to go through and there’s already been some work done on that. The state have got to commit to their 20 per cent.
PRIME MINISTER: Bill Shorten was banging on about this project, didn’t put any money up and at best they only do 50/50. 50/50 the State Government doesn’t come up with the other 50, and that means the projects never happen. Right across the Bruce highway, we’re putting $10 billion into boosting the Bruce. From one end of the state to the other. This is real money. But Michelle did you want to talk about the process and the planning?
LANDRY: Yes, so there’s already $65 million on the table and that’s for the corridor, that’s so that there was no housing developments built in the way of where the corridor was to go. If people are facing difficulties of where the land is and all the rest of it. It’s under the state government with main roads and they are the ones that do up the plans, and all the rest of it, so there is a lot of work that’s been done on this, I haven’t got an actual date on when things are starting but with the work that we’ve already done, all that will go in together and also we have fast tracked the four lanes on the northern access to Rocky and that’s all to link in with it. So this bypass, the ring road, will actually go to the Yeppoon turnoff there, so that’s going to be fantastic for everybody and I’ve actually had some emails yesterday from the Gracemere Industrial estate saying, this is fabulous, we just avoid all those traffic lights, gets the big trucks out of town, and it’s just a win for everybody.
STEVENS: No question and not taking anything away from that investment, which is fantastic, but we know that the member for Capricornia and also the member for Flynn have got a long list of projects that they want to talk to you about. Why was the ring road number one on the list?
PRIME MINISTER: Because this is a project that not only deals with the safety issues and the flood proofing issues and these sorts of things but it is a massive economic (inaudible) for the region, this is what links the agricultural sector to the rest of the country, this is linking up jobs, linking up industries, it’s doing the right thing in terms of congestion management within Rockhampton, sure you don’t have traffic jams like you do in Sydney and Melbourne, I get that. But more people are going to come and base themselves and live here in Rocky and in central Queensland and we do want to see that.
We want to see more people come and live in regional parts of the country. I was just saying earlier this week further down the coast, I want to see a billion dollar spent by backpacker tourists in regional Australia. We’re just over $920 million at the moment, I want to see us hit a billion every year. That means places like Rocky, and right across Queensland, here in central Queensland, we are going to get the economic benefit of that and you need the infrastructure that’s going to support that growth, but there are going to be a lot of things we are doing. The Peak Downs highway, the bypass, the duplication of the Capricorn highway from Rocky up to Gracemere. Those three projects alone we are talking about $300 million which we are already in for. Another one which is the south Rockhampton flood levy. That project is now proceeding to a full business case under the regional growth fund. What that is, is a list of what Michelle and Ken have been doing for Central Queensland. These guys are relentless. They are relentless, I knew that as a Treasurer, gosh I know it as a Prime Minister now.
STEVENS: I knew that word was coming. While we are knocking on the door then we need to talk about things like Kepple, the convention centre for Yeppoon. Rookwood is obviously high up on the list.
PRIME MINISTER: We are already funding there, Rookwood.
STEVENS: I mean water infrastructure, we have had this spoken about a short time ago, is so important for central Queensland. So, Dominic Doblo actually asked me to ask you this question, when is the Federal Government to take control of all water in this country to make sure that it does get the sustainable direction that is deserves?
PRIME MINISTER: Just this week, I announced $200 million up in Townsville for the pipeline project and that’s in response to a taskforce report that we commissioned. We are getting on with that. We are committing to the real projects. Again, they’re not promises, they are real money in the Budget. So these are things we are delivering, not promising. Water infrastructure, particularly in the North and in Central Queensland are really important. That’s why we are on the weir here, we had to drag the state government kicking and screaming into that project an Michelle was there upfront and early and securing the commitment to the Rookwood weir and that’s just an indication of practical support. I’m talking about, when I’m going through Queensland, I’m listening and I’m hearing and when I come here and do, with $800 million for the Ring road project, on top of all of the other commitments, Michelle is a billion dollar deliverer up here.
STEVENS: The billion dollar woman.
PRIME MINISTER: The billion dollar woman. There you go.
LANDRY: Can I just touch base quickly on the Keppel Bay Sailing Club and Great Keppel Island, so Matthew Canavan and I have been to see Keppel Bay Sailing Club and it’s a fantastic project, we’re looking at avenues of how we can get the funding for that. With regards to Great Keppel Island, I was talking with Pat O'Driscoll, the real estate agent that is involved with that last night, those people are very passionate about getting this up and going, as am I. This has become very political, the member for Keppel but $25 million on the table in the dying days of the last state election, and that’s not going to cover anywhere near the cost of putting the power, the water, to that island, as well as the infrastructure at Emu Park, jetties and toilets and all this sort of stuff that they were going to build and then, after she wins the election on a promise of a lie really, because $25 million was never going to cut that. Then she says, “Oh well Michelle Landry should be putting $25 million on the table.” Well, I’ve never seen one single costing for this, and the experts and engineers that I’ve been speaking to are saying this will be $100 million plus. So, the state government need to get their act together on this, and actually get the figures, but we need to talk to those people are the island because they might use solar energy, for anything over there, so I just don’t think throwing more and more money into this bottomless pit that they seem to think that we have is going to solve the situation, they actually have to work out how much this is going to cost, and then come to the table and talk to us instead of playing politics on it, and smashing me in state parliament.
STEVENS: There you go, laying down gauntlet, if you get that fixed.
PRIME MINISTER: But Aaron, there are broader issues here with the economy which, I mean, the infrastructure projects are critically important, but also getting taxes down. There are 17,000 small businesses and family businesses here in Michelle’s electorate that benefit from the tax cuts that we’ve delivered to small and family businesses right across the area, I was up here, with one of my favourite businesses in the country, Coxon’s Radiators, last time, and we’ve been backing them in while they’ve had a turnover of less than $50 million, and we’re going to keep backing those small businesses in. There’s another real pernicious tax that Labor want to put on Australians and that’s the retiree tax. This is the tax, and there’s some 5,500 people here in Michelle’s electorate and in Ken’s electorate, a similar number, and these are electorates where people who get their share dividends, and their franked, and if they haven’t got a lot of money, and they’ve got no taxable income, what they get is a tax refund. It’s thousands, and thousands of dollars every year, and Bill Shorten is going to take that away. He is just going to take it away. And that’s thousands of dollars, that these retires have, and a lot of small and family businesses have these investments as well, that they don’t get to spend, as they go into Christmas o the kids presents, or taking that trip down to see their family, or fly them up and see them here. Pay their power bill, to get around, and the other one is, we back mining jobs, and I’m happy to say that here in the middle of Rockhampton, and I’m happy to say it in the middle of Perth, the middle of Sydney, or down in Melbourne, but you won’t hear Bill Shorten say that. He’ll come up here and he’ll talk about it perhaps, but you won’t hear him say it where it really matters, where you’ve got to support mining jobs, and that is back in the southern states, and in the southern capitals, and mining jobs are great for this region, we back them in, that’s a huge part of our future. I was making the same point at the pub last night, and mining is a big part of Queensland’s future of Australia’s future, and I’m not going to run the mining industry down, I’m going to talk it up.
STEVENS: That’s the reason for the uncertainty in central Queensland is around the future of mining and you can say, you back the mining industry in central Queensland?
PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. 100 per cent. This is good for jobs, it’s good for the economy, it’s been good for the Australian economy ever since we learnt how to use a shovel.
PRIME MINISTER: It is absolutely the right thing for Australia and you’ve got to do it practically, and environmentally sustainably and you’ve got to comply with all the conditions and that’s fair enough. And mining companies understand that. You people going into the mining industry who are becoming the engineers and the mine managers and workers of the future, they get that too. They live here. They want the quality of the environment to be great.
STEVENS: So Adani has got your support?
PRIME MINISTER: The Carmichael mine has always had our support, and to facilitate it. The approvals have been provided, and the approvals have to be delivered on, by the company, and of course that has to be. Right across the Galilee Basin, we want to see the continued growth of this industry, it is supporting the livelihood of Queenslanders. It says it on the side of the bus – I’m backing Queenslanders, and if you back Queenslanders, then you don’t run down the mining industry, like the Labor party and Bill Shorten does any time he is having an almond latte in the suburbs of Melbourne.
STEVENS: I hope that boosts the confidence of people listening this morning, now, what’s next for you, you do head to Gladstone about midday today, what between now and then.
PRIME MINISTER: We’ve got the announcement today, which is exciting, and sorry to Labor it, but I’ve got to give Michelle a huge rap here because…
STEVENS: The one billion dollar woman.
PRIME MINISTER: She has really fought hard for this. You’d understand, all around the country there are a lot of competing demands this is a very big commitment and for Michelle to be able to be able to prevail and make the case and not just to me, not just to me as Treasurer previously, but now as Prime Minister, but with her colleagues, because she has got to stand up in that party room and say – look, I’ve been able to secure this, and for the rest of the party room to be able to go, good on you Michelle. So she’s been able to bring not just obviously me, but Michael McCormack, the leader of the National Party along on this, and now Josh Frydenberg as the Treasurer, but she has been able to bring our colleagues and our party room behind what we are going up here in central Queensland. Our party gets it – the LNP gets it about central Queensland and we’ll be here and we’ll be saying the same thing today, yesterday, and tomorrow, whether it’s about the mining industry or infrastructure or central Queensland’s future.
STEVENS: Keep knocking Michelle.
LANDRY: I will, I have a pathway to the Prime Minister’s office.
STEVENS: STEVENS: Well he says he backs the ladies.
PRIME MINISTER: I do, she’s my Youngstar.
STEVENS: Prime Minister Scott Morrison a pleasure, Michelle Landry, thank you very much for your time.