TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop with Rowan Ramsey MP, Member for Grey, Stephan Knoll MP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, and Fraser Ellis MP, Member for Narungga, Port Wakelfield, SA
Subjects: Port Wakefield overpass and duplication project.
**Note: weather affected recording quality**
Well, welcome everyone to Port Wakefield, which is now in the electorate of Grey.
It’s a very exciting time this morning – we’re announcing the duplication on the highway through the dual-laning of the highway through to Port Wakefield and, of course, the overpass on the northern side to once and for all get rid of crash corner.
I was elected in 2007. And in 2007 the Coalition under John Howard committed to building the overpass on the northern side of town. And we didn’t win government; we spent six years in opposition, the Labor government at the federal level and the Labor government at the state showed no appetite for the project at all.
Now with the advent of a Coalition government in Canberra and a Liberal government in South Australia, we’re ready to do business, get on with the job, deliver for rural Australia.
And as I say, it will be good for freight. It will be fantastic for the tourists that are sick of being blocked up here on long weekends. And probably most particularly for people that are parents – like myself – who have been sending their kids back to Adelaide after a long weekends for many years, it’ll be a great sigh of relief.
Normally the last thing we say to them is take care on the road, drive carefully. Knowing full well that this is a congested spot here that leads to a lot of frustration and people making dumb decisions on the roads. So, let’s get a really good outcome.
Now, I’m really pleased to have Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister back in my electorate again. Michael’s a great supporter of South Australia, Stephan Knoll behind me and of course Fraser Ellis who along with Kendall Jackson pushed for this as part of the last election for the new state government.
I’m going to hand over to Michael, thanks for being here mate.
Great to be here Rowan. The second time in about a month. We were at Kadina not that long ago for the unveiling of the new sport and recreation centre there. And what a fabulous facility that is.
But this is also a fabulous announcement. This is a transformational announcement with the overpass and duplication.
This is going to get people home sooner and safer. Get trucks to where they need to be, as well as school buses. It’s all about road safety. It’s all about logistics. It’s all about making sure that we meet demands of the freight task.
And certainly when it comes to ensuring that we have better, safer roads, the Commonwealth Government is committed to doing just that.
And that’s why we put $72 million on the table for this Port Wakefield project. I’m delighted to be here with Stephan Knoll again. He and I have been in constant contact ever since the Marshall Government was elected and ever since I was made the Infrastructure and Transport Minister of the Commonwealth Government.
Very pleased that I’ve added Regional Development to my list of portfolios in the last week’s reshuffle. And that means that certainly regional development is front and centre of everything we are doing in Government, with the Marshall Government, in conjunction with Fraser Ellis, as well. It’s good to catch up with him again.
But certainly with Rowan Ramsey. Rowan Ramsey is a fighter and an advocate for all things in his electorate. It is a huge electorate, this one in Grey, in South Australia. Make no mistake, Rowan is getting around it each and every day.
Yesterday he drove just 700 kilometres. It was just a bit of a picnic in the park for him yesterday. But every day whenever I call him – and I do it often – he’s always somewhere in his very, very large electorate; making sure that people are listened to, making sure that actions are taken when he gets back to Canberra. And he – along with everybody else in the Morrison Government – are going to make sure that projects such as this are delivered.
I’ll hand over now to my great mate, Stephan Knoll, who can give you some more details about this project.
But I’m delighted to be here. This is, as I say, a transformational, nation-building project which is going to make the freight task that much easier. Stephan.
Thank you. Thanks everyone for coming out. And this is a fantastic day for Port Wakefield.
The wait for Port Wakefield is over. South Australians who have been long awaiting for this project can know that a Marshall Liberal government together with the Morrison Federal Government is working together to deliver for regional South Australians.
This project will be completed in 2022, but works is going to start straight away on doing the design work and concept planning so that we can get on and deliver this project.
What this means for the South Australian construction industry is this another piece of the pipe in building the pipeline of infrastructure projects here in South Australia.
This Port Wakefield overpass and duplication builds on the commitment that we took to the election. Again, another Marshall Liberal government election commitment that’s being delivered. But instead of just doing the first stage, their flyover north of town, we’ve been able to work together with the Federal Government to deliver both stages to fix once and for all these issues around Port Wakefield.
Fantastic thing is, while building on the partnership and I do echo the sentiments, Michael McCormack and I have become pretty good mates pretty quickly because we know that we need to work together to deliver for regional South Australia. And this is a fantastic partnership.
Again we need to work with the Federal Government to lay these next pieces of the pipeline to put together this infrastructure pipeline that we need to do going forward.
So, $90 million - $72 million from the Federal Government, $18 million from the State Government. And the fantastic thing is, is that the commitment that we took to the election, we’ve actually managed to build upon so that we can actually deliver more and go further than what we did in our election commitments.
Minister, just talk us through exactly how this final proposition differs from what you did take to the election.
So, stage one of what needs to happen here in Port Wakefield is just the flyover north of town. We took an election a proposal for 50/50 basis with the Federal Government. What we’ve been able to see here is an 80/20 funding arrangement to do both sections.
So, instead of $12 million worth of state money to do just an overpass, it’s $18 million worth of state money to be able to deliver both the overpass and the duplication through the town. This was always our ultimate desire but this is what happens when mature state and federal governments work together to deliver for regional South Australians.
[Inaudible] being underfunded [indistinct] underestimated the cost. Does this show that they were right?
Well, the election commitment that we took was only in relation to the flyover. Was only in relation to the overpass. So we’re not here just announcing what we took to the election, we’re taking it that one step further and we’ve turned $12 million worth of state money that we committed at the election, turned into $18 million worth of state money. But by partnering with the Federal Government, we’ve actually been able to achieve much, much more than what we just took to the election.
And when does the money start flowing? When does construction start?
So the designing and planning work will start straight away. In fact, the department’s already working on some concept plans and business case development. Construction will be completed in 2022, but the firming up of that time frame is going to happen as the design phase kicks in.
What sort of community consultation have you undertaken? There’s going to be some houses pretty close to this [indistinct].
So well actually if you want to talk about community consultation I’ll actually defer to the local MP who, along with the federal member and the state member, have been advocating for this project and talking to this community, with the community, for a long time. So I’ll ask Fraser to say something.
This is one of my big priorities leading up to the election and securing the funding necessary to make this overpass and the dual-lane carriageway happen for Port Wakefield community. They are big supporters of making a dual-lane carriageway a reality, as opposed to [indistinct] and to make that happen it needs to be a dual-lane carriageway.
And that’s what [indistinct].
Hopefully it will thrive and prosper. It’s big investment in the town and [indistinct].
You’ve got the Deputy Prime Minister standing next to you, are you going to be twisting his arm to bring forward some extra cash for the North-South Corridor while he’s here?
Well I mean, this is the next piece of the puzzle; well, actually, the next piece of the pipe in our pipeline. But can I say that the constructive relationship between the state and federal government is fantastic.
This is an example of it delivering for South Australians. We are certainly having constructive conversations about what more we could do and the Deputy Prime Minister has been extremely open to having these discussions.
And I look forward to being able to announce further things into the future. Today, exciting announcement, building that pipeline, making sure that we can deliver certainty and continuity for the construction industry, but also that we’re delivering the productivity infrastructure benefits for South Australia- regional South Australia so desperately needs.
Can I just add to that? In the May Budget, there was $3.5 billion set aside over the next decade for Roads of Strategic Importance. So, I’ll be working very closely with Stephan Knoll and other ministers too and certainly with local members like Rowan Ramsey to make sure that that $3.5 billion for Roads of Strategic Importance goes to the roads, the vital linkage points.
They are not necessarily national highways but those secondary roads which will link farms and businesses in regional communities to ports and then being able to access those market agreements we’ve been able to arrange with many Asian countries, noting Prime Minister Scott Morrison is going overseas today to talk to Indonesia about trade arrangements with Indonesia. It’s one of our largest trading partners and I welcome the discussions that he’s having over there.
Just on that, Deputy Prime Minister, how important is securing trade deals with countries like Indonesia?
Oh, it’s absolutely vital. I come from a regional electorate in South West New South Wales and see how well the farmers and small businesses in these communities do when we have these free trade arrangements.
[Inaudible], China, Japan, Peru, the Transpacific Partnership 11, is a $12 trillion opportunity for Australian businesses to take advantage of. You don’t have to ask Rowan Ramsey, or myself, or Fraser Ellis as regional Members of Parliament, you only have to ask the farmers and small businesses themselves just how they’ve benefited.
Whether they’re growing grain, growing stock, producing wine, whatever they’re doing, their trade can be enhanced by these trade arrangements that we’ve been able to do… as it just starts to rain!
But I’ve been on a drought tour with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Outback Queensland, it is bone dry there and these people are doing it tough. So we have put $1.8 billion on the table. We must and we will do more, but it is very dry.
These farmers will get through it; they always do. They’re the most resilient farmers in the world. They’re also the very best environmentalists in the world and together, we’ll pull through this drought situation.
Just on another topic; what’s your reaction to the Westpac announcement, do you have a message for the other banks?
An out of session rate rise is not to be recommended. I know the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that today. But if people don’t like what they’re getting from their banks, I urge and encourage them to shop around. I urge them to use their feet and go next door if they feel the need to. If they don’t feel as though well served. And of course, there’s always the Customer Owned Banking Association organisations, the credit unions, they also offer pretty good deals [indistinct]. And certainly in regional Australia, they help prop those communities up.
Just on another matter, Deputy Prime Minister, energy policy [indistinct] expect to see some comments there today from the new Energy Minister.
Well, I do. Angus Taylor and I are very good mates, in fact his electorate of Hume neighbours my electorate Riverina in South West New South Wales. He came into parliament soon after me.
We’ve been having good discussions about energy policy. His grandfather, William Hudson, helped build the Snowy Mountains – he was an engineer on the Snowy Mountains – a hydro electricity and irrigation scheme. If ever there was somebody who was born in the role of lowering energy prices, it is Angus Taylor. The Prime Minister has already said that he’s not just the minister for energy, he’s the minister for bringing down power prices and I’ve got every confidence in him.
We’ll have to wait and see about that, but certainly the fast tracking the ACCC recommendations default price, for investment certainly into the future and for looking at what we can further do as far as divestiture measures is important.
[Indistinct] is there a division [indistinct] price if energy was with the party, the Liberal Party?
It actually wasn’t. [Indistinct] price and in fact we’re all as one on bringing power prices down; that’s what Liberals and Nationals stand for. I can’t say the same for Labor. They’ve got a renewable target and an emissions target without the ability and scope of Australians to be able to afford to pay.
What was your response to the suggestions of bullying in the Liberal Party?
Every single female member of The Nationals is on the frontbench – I can say that with certainty. Michelle Landry and Bridget McKenzie are going to be outstanding frontbenchers. Bridget McKenzie’s already shown a lot of outstanding Cabinet Minister she is.
But there is no place for bullying, whether it’s on a factory floor or a parliament floor, there is absolutely no place for intimidation or bullying in any workplace in Australia. And Julia Banks is a very near and dear friend of mine and I was very disheartened and disappointed to read her comments yesterday, I rang and offered her my best wishes.
Back on infrastructure spending in South Australia. The State Minister [indistinct]…
[Indistinct] twisting my arm?
He’s got it now, he’s got it now!
No, he’s a good mate of mine, Stephan Knoll, and I really look forward to having really fruitful discussions with him going forward about road projects in South Australia. Infrastructure projects in South Australia.
So he’s committed, he’s dedicated to building a better South Australia as am I. [indistinct] discussions about how we can do just that. I’m delighted the Marshall Government has such a vision for the future, we’ve got a vision for South Australia. Steven Marshall and his team are dedicated to building a better Adelaide, a better regional South Australia.
Minister, I’ll just get a few more details on the actual overpass. Can you just outline how big it will be, where it will be, how much time this is expected to save?
Sure, well those details will be provided [indistinct]. Essentially stage one overpass is a dual lane overpass through the north of the town [indistinct] and we are talking about a duplication through to town.
There are a number of other treatments that are going to need to happen through the town, roundabouts and the like, to make sure the traffic does flow, but there is more work to be done as part of the concept planning and then as we move into the design phase.
But really, what’s been needed and what’s been lacking up until now has been the commitment from the state government wanting to do it and in partnership with the federal government that’s actually able to do it. That’s the most exciting thing about today. And what’s the most exciting thing is for all those construction industry workers, about what this pipeline looks like, this is the next piece of the pipe as we lay this pipeline down going forward and it’s a really exciting thing.
And I really look forward to being here in 2022 to being able to see the completion of this and seeing what it’s going to do revitalise this really beautiful part our state.
This is on the RAA’s budget wish list, have you had a look at the other one on there and do you think you could deliver on any of those?
Well, we welcome the input from the RAA; we’ve had many long discussions with them. We’ve announced on our [inaudible] very important sections that we’ve been able to work together to start to do work on that [indistinct].
The Joy Baluch Bridge is something that both the federal and the state governments have committed to. So, I think the RAA’s going to be quite pleased about what this new Marshall Liberal government’s been able to achieve and I look forward to being able to do more and to talk more as we work together to build on this pipeline going forward.