SARAH HENDERSON MP – MEMBER FOR CORANGAMITE:
Well, a very good morning to you all. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to elders past and present. To the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to James Merlino, my parliamentary colleagues here including of course Dan, Gayle, Paul and John and John McVeigh and Bruce, our mayor. Bruce of course, our new Geelong mayor, to all mayors and councillors here and to the many, many stakeholders here today, I warmly welcome you to what is a very significant and historic day.
We have just seen the signing of a City Deal for Geelong and for our region. I want to, particularly from my side of the equation, from the Commonwealth, pay tribute to the Prime Minister. This is a very, very significant day for Geelong, for Corangamite, including of course for our wonderful Great Ocean Road economy. What’s very significant about our joint endeavours, is that we are very focused on ensuring that we drive the investment under a City Deal, not just in Geelong, but into our regional economy. So Prime Minister, to James Merlino, I know the Premier can’t be here today, we are very, very excited and I would now hand over to you, thank you very much.
Well Sarah, thank you very much. James, Acting Premier today, thank you so much for the great cooperation we’ve had with the Victorian Government. These City Deals are a really transformational innovation in the way governments deliver great services and great outcomes for Australians. Too often the three levels of government, Commonwealth, state and local government, while they may often be travelling broadly in the same direction, are a bit like ships passing in the night; not working together sufficiently. Everybody says: “Why can’t governments work more closely together?” There is nowhere more important for us to do that than in our cities, where you have so many agencies involved, state federal and local government agencies. So much investment, state federal, local and private sector. Of course, you’ve got big decisions to be made, about governance, about planning. What a good idea it is to bring them all together so that we agree in our big cities and indeed in our regional cities like Geelong, like Launceston, like Townsville where we have City Deals up and running and agreed and in operation. We agree on the priorities. We agree on the projects. We agree on investment. We agree for example, if we’re talking about a transport infrastructure for example, say a new rail line, light rail line, a bus way or some new sporting infrastructure. We work out how we can ensure that we best finance that. How much would come from grants? How much would come from a loan? How much can be realised through the value that is created by the improvement in infrastructure. Its complex business but it is best done together. That’s why this collaboration is so important.
So what James and I have signed today is a memorandum of understanding between the State of Victoria and the Commonwealth of Australia, to work on these issues and prioritise Geelong as the first City Deal. We’ll build on substantial investment that the Commonwealth is making already in Geelong over many different levels of course; in rail, hundreds of millions of dollars going into rail infrastructure. Investment into industry, jobs and technology.
We were just out at Deakin University talking about the extraordinary progress that is being made here in the carbon fibre sector. I mean Geelong is actually leading the world with Australian technology, Australian advanced manufacturing, creating already, we were told today at Deakin, 1,500 jobs. This is in the cutting edge technology of the 21st Century, the most advance manufacturing, the lightest weight materials. That’s all happening here in this city, in this region. But this is a very important step forward and it is doing what everyone wants politicians like us to do more of James, work together.
HON. JAMES MERLINO MP – ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Of course we have the Mayor and we will have Deakin University and we will have other parties. These City Deals as you’ve seen in Launceston and Townsville already, they bring together the whole community. The local media will get involved, the local newspaper, the Addy will be very involved. Sarah has been leading phenomenal consultations here, getting the views of different parts of the community to see what the priority should be. Of course it is all about economic growth, it’s about jobs, it’s about sustainability, about liveability. These are the objectives.
We want to make sure that Geelong becomes an even better place to live, to build a business, to build your family, to realise your dreams. That’s the goal. We’re doing everything we can to make this an even greater part of such a great state and a great nation, our own, Australia.
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Thanks very much Malcolm. Thank you Malcolm, this is a great day for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. Victoria’s first City Deal and this is something that people want to see more of, all levels of government, federal, state, local governments, local business and community, working together and identifying priorities for this region. So what we’ve just signed, the Prime Minister and myself, representing the State of Victoria, is a formal agreement. A formal agreement that says the state and the Federal Government will work together, will work with all of the local Governments in this region, business and community, identifying priorities whether its job creation, whether it’s in planning infrastructure, transport, the environment, what are the transformational projects for this region? And what better place to have our very first City Deal than Geelong, a vibrant regional city, a city and a region that is undergoing a challenging but exciting economic transformational. We want to take it to the next level. We’ve also been making investments in Geelong and the region, whether it’s $75 million for Stage Four of Kardinia Park, whether it’s almost $80 million for the Great Ocean Road, whether it’s $33 million for the Geelong performing Arts Centre. We’ve been making the investments as well, but the difference today is that we will formally work together across every level of government, to identify what those priority projects will be. We’re already hearing what they are, loud and clear, from the Geelong community, for business from local government. Things like the Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Things like delivering on the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan. Things like relocating Comcare. These are the kinds of economic transformational projects that will further boost this region and really build on what are the economic and skills strengths of Geelong and the region. So in terms of next steps, Daniel Mulino who is the Parliamentary Secretary representing the Andrews Government, Paul Fletcher, the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, they will lead roundtables and community consultations along with all of our local members, state and federal, engaging with the community over the next several months and we’re hoping to conclude those and have some clear priorities from around here.
This is a very exciting time for Geelong. I want to thank the federal government Malcolm, I want to thank local governments, represented not just by Bruce Harwood, the Mayor, we’ve got a number of other mayors and councillors and council officers here today so this is an exciting time for the Geelong region and I’m just delighted that today, we formally put pen to paper and created a City Deal for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road.
HON. PAUL FLETCHER MP, MINISTER FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AND CITIES:
Thank you Sarah, thank you Prime Minister, thank you Acting Premier. What I’d simply add to what’s already been said is that I’m looking forward to working with Daniel Mulino, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer in Victoria, who will take the lead for the Victorian Government. I’ll be working from the Commonwealth Government, obviously involving Sarah and other local parliamentarians. But can I say to all the community leaders who are here; we need to roll up our sleeves, we’ve got some work to do. So I really look forward to working with all of you over coming months to take this agreement that’s been signed today, the memorandum of understanding, and move forward to achieve some tangible outcomes to make Geelong an even better place to live.
CR BRUCE HARWOOD, MAYOR OF GREATER GEELONG:
Just on behalf of the City of Geelong, first I’d just like to acknowledge the Wadawurrung People whose land we stand on today and respect their elders past and present. We welcome the Prime Minister, the Acting Premier, Ministers and Members of the state and federal governments. Thank you, I think the term is, ‘passing the pub test’, as we hear often. Geelong has had its share of [inaudible] as we transition to manufacturing in the 21st Century. It’s a clever and creative city and that’s what we’re building towards, a lot of initiatives going into that space. Announcement’s like today are what we need, there’s plenty of other places in Australia’s that are quite envious of Geelong today, to hear these big announcements and what it means for the whole region right down to our South Australian border basically and what it will mean into the future and allow us to further develop opportunities, improve our economy and our livability. So, this is a very important announcement and we do like it when Canberra and Spring Street come to town, bringing the cheque book. So we’d love to see you next week again.
Sincerely, we say thank you. We look forward to the future of what Geelong will build on the back of these announcements. Again we thank our Canberra and the state government.
HON. DAN TEHAN MP, MEMBER FOR WANNON:
That’s Sarah, thanks Prime Minister, thanks Acting Premier. This deal will not only be significant for Geelong but the regions as well. Cities are vital to our regions. This deal will mean we can see improved rail services right through to Warrnambool. We’ll see improved services when it comes to our highways, when it comes to the Great Ocean Road. It’ll mean that families can travel more safely. It’ll also mean that we will have greater employment opportunities so can I congratulate all levels of Government for getting together, for delivering for Geelong and as importantly, for the region as well. Thank you.
HON. JOHN EREN MP, VICTORIAN MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND MAJOR EVENTS:
Thanks very much. It’s a pleasure to be here obviously, Prime Minister, James, indeed other Ministers and Sarah. It’s a great day. This is about growing the economy through tourism towards the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan. It’s an extremely important master plan that we need to implement. We’ve already dedicated some monies towards it but we have conventions in the waiting. Of course we have verbally committed to that, we look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that we get these projects up and that’s why it’s so important to collaborate, to work together in all three tiers of government and that’s what we’ve got today. It is a historic day, there’s no question of that and of course when you see tourism going through the roof –and I think Victoria is leading the way in relation to not only international visitation but domestic visitation in terms of interstate visitation is on the rise. Regions like this benefit from the deal that’s been signed today and I look forward as the Minister for Tourism and Major Events, to helping, making sure that commitments come to fruition. So congratulations to one and all. I know, looking at the crowd, there are lots of stakeholders here and I know that they’re all excited about what’s happening today. I think it’s an exciting day and well done to all concerned.
SARAH HENDERSON MP:
That brings an end to the formal proceedings this morning. Prime Minister, Acting Primer, my parliamentary colleagues and of course everyone here today, thank you so much for what is an extraordinary day for Geelong, for Corangamite, for Wannon and for our region. We’re very, very proud of what this will deliver. I have a very strong focus on faster rail, safer roads and great community infrastructure that’s incredibly important for a growing city and a growing region. We’re very much looking forward to working with the likes of G21, the Committee for Geelong, the Geelong Chamber, of course all our local councils and the many other key stakeholders who make such an incredible contribution to our community including Deakin University. It has been an incredible day here today. I’m so proud that we’ve announced $20 million for local jobs, 1200 jobs in total, so it has been a great day Prime Minister. But thank you very much everyone for coming and we’re looking forward to many more great announcement s ahead. So, thank you.
Alright, I think we’re going to have some questions. Now it’s hot here, I hope everyone’s as hot as we are.
Prime Minister, the funding breakdown? Who is paying for what and when?
Obviously there are a number of projects, the rail projects that Dan and Sarah mentioned, that we’ve already made hundreds of millions of dollars of commitment to. But in terms of new projects, that’s the whole point of the process here. It’s really important to prioritise them, to make sure that first, you’ve got to work out what projects you want to prioritise, how much they’re going to cost, how you can fund them, what other sources do you have, you know. A lot of the rail projects I mentioned earlier, but other infrastructure projects create a lot of value. How can you get some of that, to bring to bear, to support the project. So it’s a lot of work to do, but again, this is not a theoretical exercise. You can see that we’ve gone through exactly this process with Townsville and Launceston and it’s all under way there.
In fact, where is the mayor? There he is. Your counterpart in Launceston Albert Van Zetten the mayor, he’s got all the money there for the big project of moving UTAS back into the centre of Launceston. The only thing that’s waiting is the DA. I turned to the mayor and he turned to the University and said: “You’ve got to get your application in, hurry up! How about tomorrow?” So you can see, they’re working together, it was good, it was all happening.
How is Geelong … when you say Geelong is a priority, what you mean by that?
It will be the first City Deal in Victoria.
But what about Launceston?
The Launceston city deal is a done deal, there has been an agreement on a whole range of projects there. The biggest one there is to move the University of Tasmania's campus right into the centre of Launceston.
Will this have any effect of things like the Land 400 deal, in terms of attracting that sort of investment to Geelong?
Well Land 400 I know is a matter of keen interest and no keener advocate for it than my Victorian colleagues, especially Sarah here. But it’s of course going through a tender process and for all of the appropriate probity reasons, I can’t comment about it other than to say that the Department of Defence is assessing the competing bids, carefully and objectively.
Is this morning the start of an improved relationship, harmonious relationship between Canberra and Spring Street, with the State Government?
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
I hope so.
There’s just love bursting all over the place.
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Yeah, indeed Malcolm. That’s right.
But I mean it has been tough, hasn't it?
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Well, there are times when different levels of government have differences of opinion, but the power of today's announcement is that it gives confidence to the people of Geelong and the Great Ocean Road that change is coming. That all levels of government, in conjunction with the local community, with private enterprise here in Geelong and the Great Ocean Road, to build the additional projects prioritised by this region. Projects identified as the most important.
So this is an important day and it’s what the people want to see; Federal Government, State Government, local governments and the community working together.
Have you had a chance to talk about some of the issues where maybe you don’t see eye to eye, like say, Victoria’s handling of youth crime?
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Well if I can, that’s one example where comments are made and there are different points of view, disagreements between the state and federal Government. We all want safe communities. What we saw yesterday, record crowds at the day session and the night session at the Australian Open, from 68,000 last year to 81,000 yesterday. Tens of thousands of Victorians, tens of thousands of interstate visitors, international guests, enjoying the Open, enjoying our parks and gardens, enjoying our cafes and restaurants. Some of the commentary about visiting restaurants, I think people see it for what it is.
But today is not the day to engage in political point-scoring. Today is a day our governments are coming together, working together for the benefit of Geelong and the Great Ocean Road.
I’d just say I agree, this is not the time to have a debate about law and order in Victoria here. As James I'm sure agrees and I think every Member of Parliament here agrees, whatever Party they’re from, the first duty of every government is to keep its citizens safe. Public safety is the key and if there is real concern, as there is, there often is, about public safety, it’s the government's job to deal with those concerns and make sure people feel safe when they walk down the street and they go to work and they are going to school and so forth. That is our first job and I can say to everybody here, that every second of every day, that is foremost in my mind, keeping Australians safe.
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Indeed it is you know, I don't want this to be an awkward conference because this is a very positive announcement, but I would agree with the comments of the Prime Minister. That is our job, first and foremost, keeping the community safe. That’s what our community expects and it’s important about what governments do, what they actually do to ensure that is the case.
3,000 additional police, significant strengthening of the sentencing, strengthening of our bail system. We have the most, the strictest parole regime in the country. So it is important about what governments actually do, not what they say. Not what Oppositions say, it's what governments do to make the committee safe. So I would agree with Malcolm on that point.
You just talked about working together, rather than I guess, the barbs that are being traded through the media. Would you agree to creating a national crime database as is being requested from the State Government?
We certainly share national crime information already and we will certainly work to do more of that. In terms of the gangs James, I certainly don't want to have an argument, I’ll just be very factual if I may. In terms of the issues with gang violence in Victoria that have caused great deal of concern in the state, and we are very alert to that. The response to that has to be very much a community policing response from the Victorian police and of course for which the State Government is responsible. There isn't the same interstate, let alone international connection for example, as there is with outlaw motorcycle gangs. But nonetheless, it is very important that we have a national database, so that if somebody has a criminal history, there is criminal intelligence about them. That can be recognised wherever they may turn up in Australia. So that’s certainly part of the work that we are leading.
But in terms of the issues with gangs in Victoria, the advice that I have from the Federal Police Commissioner who works very closely with your Commissioner James, is that the issues here are very much a question of community policing and of course the administration of the justice system here in Victoria. We don't have a counterpart to this, we don't have the same problem in the same way, for example, in Sydney, which is a similar big city to Melbourne, with a very diverse community.
Look, again we don't want to have an awkward discussion here. I think James understands that the responsibility for keeping Victorians safe on the street, is a Victorian governments. We recognise that. I understand there is a political debate in Victoria, Matt Guy has reforms he wants to advance. That’ll be fought out in the State election. I just want to say to all Victorians that everything we do, everything we do at our level is focused on keeping Victorians safe.
The cooperation, particularly you mentioned outlaw motorcycle gangs as one, but particularly most pertinently here in Victoria in respect of terrorism is outstanding. The Joint Counter-Terrorism teams work so well together and we have disrupted many terrorist plots here in Victoria and around Australia because of that seamless work which we set out to make even more collaborative.
So today is a day about infrastructure, the planning cities and investment and in particular Geelong, but I can assure you that we are, the Federal Government, absolutely committed to keeping Australians safe, wherever they may be and to providing the support that we can provide to State governments particularly in terms of intelligence, technology and so forth.
Prime Minister, just quickly on your trip to Japan tonight?
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
If I can just round out the question on the crime rate and on the assistance of the Federal Government, let's also get some facts on the table. We’ve had the biggest decrease in the crime rate in Victoria in the last decade, so we are seeing the results on the ground.
These are serious issues, they are issues around safety, so it’s important about what governments do in terms of resources and legislation. But we are seeing the fruits of that, with the reduction in the crime rate and Malcolm, in terms of what you can do to assist, well there is firearms legislation in the Victorian Parliament, your counterpart, you mentioned Matthew Guy. Matthew Guy and the Liberal Party are stalling that legislation and seeking to water it down. The Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police has described that firearms legislation as a game-changer in terms of dealing with organised crime, so the best thing you can do Malcolm for Victoria is get on the phone, talk to the mobsters mate, Matthew Guy of the Liberal Party, to support that legislation.
SARAH HENDERSON MP:
Come on James.
No James look, I understand why you have to say that, but –
ACTING PREMIER OF VICTORIA:
Well, if we are going to talk about law and order, it’s important to get some facts on the table.
Yeah alright, alright. Well let’s raise the tone a bit, let me talk about my trip to Japan. I'm going to Japan tonight for the annual leaders’ meeting with Prime Minister Abe.
Our strategic partnership with Japan is more important than ever. We are now on the third anniversary of the Japan-Australia Free Trade Agreement and it is seeing continued growth in investment in Australia from Japan, in Japan from Australia.
Really strong growth in exports and exports drives jobs.
We are committed to opening up more opportunities for Australian exporters to get into more markets.
Shinzo Abe and I are absolutely committed to ensuring that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the big free trade agreement that regrettably the US pulled out of after the change of administration, we are committed to that continuing. We are working very hard, you would have heard Steven Ciobo talking about that on the radio this morning, our Trade Minister. So we want to make sure that there are more opportunities, more Australian businesses - whether they are in agriculture, whether they are exporting wool, meat or wheat, or whether they are exporting the latest carbon fibre products developed at Deakin University - we want to make sure there are more opportunities for them to get into those markets.
Equally, of course, we have a number of major threats to security in the region. The largest looming of which right now is North Korea. Japan and Australia are absolutely united in our resolve to ensure that the global community brings the strongest pressure to bear on North Korea, the strongest economic sanctions to bear on North Korea, to ensure that that regime comes to its senses and stops its’ threatening and reckless conduct.
So I have to say that those economic sanctions are starting to bite. It’s been wonderful to see the support of China, the US, Russia, all of the UN Security Council countries and the whole global community in tightening those economic sanctions. That is our best prospect to achieve a peaceful resolution of the issues on the Korean peninsula in the near term. It is absolutely critical that we get that and maintain that economic pressure.
So that and many other issues, we will be discussing PM Abe in Japan tomorrow.
The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the US said that anyone who considers President Trump's immigration policy to be racist, should also consider you to be racist, for the merit-based system that we have for our immigration system. Do you think that is a fair characterisation?
I'm not going to buy into US politics. As you well know, we are the most successful multicultural society in the world, we have zero tolerance for racism full stop. We have been able to create in Australia - and as we approach Australia Day, we should cherish this and celebrate this extraordinary achievement - we are a nation that is so diverse, the most extraordinary multicultural country in the world.
You know, we have nearly 30 per cent of Australians were not born in Australia and over half of Australians have a parent that was not born in Australia. We come from every conceivable background and yet we live together in harmony, in a world where elsewhere, too often, we see divisions based on race, ethnicity, culture, and terrible violence.
So, our achievements as a tolerant, multicultural society, one built on a foundation of mutual respect, says we have zero tolerance for racism in any form. Thank you all very much and it is a great day for Geelong, for the Great Ocean Road, for the whole region.
This is governments working together, all rhetoric and commentary on other matters aside James, were going to work on this.