Transcript: Press conference with Georgina Downer, Liberal Candidate for Mayo and Dan Cregan MP Hahndorf, South Australia

Subjects: funding for a strategic traffic plan to ease congestion in and around Hahndorf; Mayo by-election



Well, it’s great to be here today. We’re by the South Eastern Freeway near the Hahndorf Interchange and I’ve got here with me the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and the local State MP Dan Cregan.

And I’m really thrilled that the Deputy Prime Minister is announcing today a commitment of $1 million to provide a strategic traffic plan here in Hahndorf.

Hahndorf itself has some unique challenges. It’s South Australia’s most visited tourist town and one of Australia’s most visited tourist towns. It has over a million people visiting this iconic tourist destination. But with that, it also has some challenges.

Trucks coming from along the Onkaparinga Valley cannot get through to Mount Barker and on to Murray Bridge on the freeway. They have to go right through the centre of Hahndorf and this creates a whole range of problems, congestion and of course is dangerous for pedestrians and other users alike.

So, I’m really pleased that the federal government is committed to finding a solution to the traffic issues in Hahndorf. But also a solution – a long-term solution – to some of our choke points and congestion issues that we have here in this growing area in the Adelaide Hills, especially when it comes to people commuting along the freeway.

So, Michael, it’s great to have you here today and I really appreciate the interest and investment you’re putting in to dealing with congestion issues here in Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills more broadly.


Thank you Georgina and great to be here with Dan Cregan too.

This million-dollar study is important and necessary and it’s happening because of the advocacy of Georgina Downer. And a vote for Georgina Downer means a vote for more infrastructure and more rollout of more funding for Mayo. And she has told me on numerous occasions just how important it is to get these choke points fixed.

The fact is, B-doubles and al fresco dining do not mix. And Hahndorf is a beautiful town. It’s a beautiful destination. It’s a beautiful tourist go-to place. And I know that 46 per cent of international tourists visit a regional area and many of those international tourists want to come to places like Hahndorf, but they don’t want to have to have that wonderful experience of going to a place, a tourist mecca like Hahndorf and be competing with B-doubles, when they’re trying to find a park, when they’re just trying to have a nice holiday. And the fact is this does need to happen.

That’s why we’re having this million-dollar study to investigate ways of how we can ease the congestion. There was $1 billion put down in Scott Morrison’s May budget to ease congestion right across Australia. Now, whether it’s a capital city, or whether it’s a regional area, the fact is we need to make sure that we’re getting people home sooner and safer, to and from work sooner and safer.

This million-dollar study will identify priority links of how we can fix this problem at Hahndorf, how we can stop the fact that we’ve got competing interests between B-doubles and people who are visiting Hahndorf to visit the great attractions.

But again, I stress, that Georgina Downer is in there fighting hard for Mayo. Fighting hard for the sorts of funding outcomes that Mayo needs, wants, expects and deserves. And if she gets elected on 28 July, this will only be the precursor to even more funding for Mayo. You’re going to have a person who’s got the ear of Cabinet Ministers. A person who’s got, certainly, those Cabinet Ministers visiting and acting.

Providing outcomes for the people of Mayo, providing outcomes for towns such as Hahndorf and providing solutions for traffic problems, for congestion and this is what it’s all about.

So it’s great to be here with Georgina. I’ve certainly been out visiting some of the businesses this morning and they’re all very proactive. They’re all making sure that they’re taking advantage of all the things that are happening that have been brought to bear in South Australia by the Turnbull Government.

You know, it doesn’t happen by coincidence. Certainly the economy is picking up. It’s picking up because we’ve got a Turnbull Government willing to invest in infrastructure, willing to invest in a $35 billion continuous shipbuilding program.

But we’ve also got Steven Marshall, since March, making a difference for South Australians. Whether it’s regional South Australians or those in Adelaide or the Adelaide Hills. Making a difference, building infrastructure, creating jobs, helping business to create jobs.

And it’s certainly making everything as it should be when we’ve had 16 years of failed Labor policies, failed Labor Government here in South Australia. Steven Marshall’s getting on with the job of fixing that. In conjunction now, Steven Marshall and Malcolm Turnbull and Georgina Downer – a great team for South Australia, a great team for better outcomes.

I’ll get Dan to say a few words as well.


Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister and Georgina. It’s terrific to be here today.

This is a community win. We know that the efficiency and safety of traffic movement throughout the Hills and Fleurieu growth corridor is essential. This is the jewel in the crown of a tourism offering as a state. We have over a million visitors a year.

The Deputy Prime Minister mentioned B-doubles, you know, traversing the hills and large trucks through the centre of Hahndorf is something that the community, and of course Georgina, has been fighting for a resolution for.

I met yesterday with members of the Hahndorf Community Association. I know how welcome this commitment will be for our entire community and I thank you very much, Deputy Prime Minister and Georgina, for bringing funding and a focus on this issue today.


A $1 million study is one thing, but a solution is going to be many, many millions of dollars, isn’t it, and many, many years away too? This will be a major operation to take B-doubles away from Hahndorf.


I’ll say yes and no to your questions. Yes, $1 million goes a long way to providing the sort of study that we need. It's a lot of money for a study. But no, these- the answers to these problems are not years and years and years away. We've got a plan in place.

We've got, more importantly, $75 billion in our infrastructure investment pipeline over a decade. But making sure that we continue to roll out the sort of infrastructure that these sorts of communities need and want and deserve.

And so we'll be looking at the results of that million-dollar study. We'll be seeing what we can do to take away, as Georgina Downer has just mentioned, those pinch points, those choke points in traffic congestion, and we'll be working to fix them.

But the fact is, Bill Shorten and a Labor Government won't fix anything. All those sorts of infrastructure programs will go away. Unemployment will go up. Energy costs will rise. But with a Liberal and Nationals government, what you're going to see is more jobs, more infrastructure building on what we've already done.


What’s the timeline for the studies?


Well, we’ll be starting the study very, very soon. The South Australian Department of Planning, Development, Infrastructure and Transport will be doing the study.

I’ve already spoken to Stephan Knoll this morning. I have a lot of good discussions with Stephan. He's really getting in the infrastructure and transport space and making a real difference. There’s probably not a week goes by that Stephan and I aren’t on the phone or meeting face to face.

I look forward to the three of us sitting down – Stephan, Georgina and myself – to getting the study up and running and then seeing what sort of timeline that we can do and progress this matter forward.


Michael, we don't get a lot of National Party MPs in South Australia. Do you feel like a fish out of water here?


No, not at all. I feel very comfortable with Georgina Downer. She is a fantastic candidate. In fact Keith Pitt, my Nationals’ colleague, only yesterday, was singing her praises and saying what a fantastic star candidate she is. And Keith’s not always known to be always effusive about candidates. He's a very reserved sort of person, but he was out there. He was singing from the rooftops praise for Georgina Downer. He understands what a difference she can make. He understands what a difference she will make, certainly in Canberra and in the Liberal and Nationals’ team going forward.

And certainly somebody with Keith Pitt’s experience and endeavour… I know that you know we need more people of enterprise, endeavour, business acumen, and that’s just the sort of person Georgina Downer is in our team, in our Liberal Nationals team.


Georgina, how do you think the campaign is going so far?


I'm really happy with how the campaign is going. I've had a really good response from the community over the last two months.

But there is something that is extremely clear that's coming. You know, it’s loud and clear from the community that they do not want a Shorten Labor Government. They see that as a retrograde step, and they’re very supportive of the current Federal Government’s commitment to growing our economy so that we do have the essential services that we all need and deserve.

And of course, in collaboration with the new Marshall Liberal government here in South Australia we have some great opportunities to work together to fix some of the major challenges in Mayo, in the Adelaide Hills, in the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, particularly around infrastructure investment to fix those choke points throughout the hills growth corridor.

And its announcements like today’s, a $1 million commitment from the Federal Government to enable the State Government here to conduct a strategic traffic plan here in Hahndorf for around the Hills, just shows the commitment to that cooperation between the federal and the state government here and I’m very happy to be part of that process.

I’m really looking forward, if I’m elected on the 28th of July, to working more in cooperation with local members like Dan Cregan to make sure we get the best outcomes for our community.


When you say people up here don’t want a Shorten Labor government – I mean, that may be true or not – but is that a bit of a problem for you though, in that voting for Rebekha Sharkie doesn't give them a Shorten Labor government?


What’s clear is that my opponent, when she was in the Parliament from 2016 to recently May 2018, she voted in 348 divisions. No, 304. Sorry, she voted in 304 divisions out of 348. What is clear is that 58 per cent of the time she voted with the ALP. She voted with Bill Shorten.

Now, we have to wonder. We’ve got Labor endorsing her. The Labor candidate, Reg Coutts, when he was pre-selected said he had no chance here and he was backing my opponent.

People are saying to me in the community they’re a bit worried about her voting record, 58 per cent of the time while she was in Parliament voting with the Labor Party. Now the Labor Party is preferencing my opponent number two. The Labor candidate has endorsed my opponent.

People are asking me the question if my opponent is elected on 28 July, what will she owe Labor? What will she owe the Greens? What sort of alliance have we got there? They’re asking questions and they’re pretty concerned about it.


Does this study mean a potential freeway interchange to an [indistinct] somewhere down the track?


Well, it could well do. Let's see what the study produces. Let's see what the study, the recommendations from it, entail.

But at the end of the day, you know, this study is made possible because of Georgina Downer. She's delivering, she's delivering already. Imagine what she can deliver if she gets elected. I’ll say when she gets elected, because we need Georgina Downer in our Federal Parliament to deliver for Mayo, to deliver for the people of Mayo. They need a good representation. They need better representation.

They'll certainly get it with Georgina Downer. She's an outstanding candidate, and I've got every faith that the million dollars that we've seen today is just a small smidgen of what's to come when she gets elected to Parliament because the people of Mayo, they need this sort of delivery, they need this sort of representation. In Georgina Downer, they're going to get it.

Thanks guys. Thanks very much.

Shane Manning