$400 million Milton-Ulladulla Bypass announcement, Nowra, NSW

WHO:                 Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, The Nationals Candidate for Gilmore Katrina Hodgkinson, Liberal Candidate for Gilmore Warren Mundine, NSW Minister for Transport and Road Andrew Constance, NSW Member for South Coast and Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock.

 

HODGKINSON:   Well Good morning everybody. Look, it's fantastic to be here today to make the announcement of up to $400 million in Commonwealth money for a Milton-Ulladulla bypass. This is something that we've been waiting for, for many, many years and it's going to be fantastic for, not only the traffic, of course, that currently is stuck in a bottleneck going through Milton-Ulladulla, but of course, also the local amenity. Communities will be able to freely get across the Princes Highway in town without taking their lives into their own hands, crossing the road.

                           This is going to mean great jobs for the local area. Unemployment is such a big issue. $400 million today. It's great to be here with my great friend, the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, to be able to make this announcement.

                           I've got Michael on speed dial. I talk to him every day, and it's fantastic that the Federal Government is kicking in such a substantial amount of money for this notorious bottleneck.

                           Warren.

MUNDINE:         Thanks. Look, I've got to congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and Andrew Constance here. They've seen what should have been done years ago. It's been gazetted for quite a while to do this bypass. Everyone knows about the congestion on that highway going from Milton-Ulladulla, and we need to move those big trucks. We need to make it safe for the people of the South Coast. We need to make it safe for our visitors and tourism people coming through. We know how well it's worked up at Berry in regard to the bypass up there. This is going to do the same thing, move that congestion, make it safe, and get people moving up and down that highway.

                           So, look, I'm really pleased and honoured to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister and with the Minister, Andrew Constance, for coming together ... And this is what this is about. Two coalition partners being able to sit down, talk together and work together to come out with clear outcomes which is for the best for the people of the South Coast.

So I'd like to introduce the Deputy Prime Minister and say thank you so much for what you're delivering today.

MCCORMACK:   Well thank you, Warren. Thank you, Katrina Hodgkinson. This is about delivery. This is what good regional members do, good coalition members do. We find a problem and we make a solution that is affordable, that is necessary, and that is deserved. The people of the South Coast deserve nothing better than the very best highway, than this Milton-Ulladulla Bypass. And I can commend also ... I know that Katrina Hodgkinson has talked about having me on speed dial, yes she has and she's phoned me every day since she put her hand up for The Nationals for Gilmore, but there's a couple of other people too.

                           Kerry and John from the Fix It campaign who have also campaigned long and hard, and I know that this Milton-Ulladulla Bypass is just one piece of the puzzle that they want to see the Princes Highway fixed. They're getting on board with their newspapers, right up and down the South Coast, and I commend them for what they've also done.

                           I like working with Andrew Constance. I've known him for many, many years. We've worked together with an 80-20 split when it comes to road funding. Well, that won't happen under Labor. Labor when it comes to regional roads, regional highways, regional byways, it's always a 50-50 split, if at all.

                           Well, the Coalition, the Liberals and Nationals, we do 80-20. So the Commonwealth pays 80% of the bill and the State comes on board with the other 20%, and that makes sure that we get things done. I was in a little remote community in Queensland yesterday, Central Queensland. Where just ten and a half kilometres of unsealed road that we're putting asphalt on, was going to create 18 jobs. Going to create 18 jobs and such delivery for that area. Imagine what the Princes Highway, imagine what the Milton-Ulladulla Bypass is going to create with this up to $400 million announcement.

                           That is going to create many, many jobs. It's also going to create safer solutions. We want people to get where they need to be, safer and sooner. For too long, too many people have been over-represented in the road statistics, in the road fatalities on the Princes Highway. We want to fix that, we have to fix it, we must fix it and we are fixing it. And this half a billion dollars announcement for the Princes Highway, when the budget was announced just last month, added to this, we're making sure that we get on board with this first project in that half a billion dollars.

                           We're making sure that this up to $400 million announcement today is going a long way towards fixing some of the problems, many of the problems of that particular section. So I commend Katrina Hodgkinson. I commend my Liberal colleagues, and this is what The Nationals do in government. This is what a good Coalition Government does. We get on board, we see the problems, and we fix them. We fix them with real money. We fix them with good commitments so that we can get on board and make sure that people get home and get to where they need to be, sooner and safer.

                           Good for holiday makers. We’re at sale yards today here at Nowra and the fact is we need these trucks to get along the highway in the best possible way. We need these freight supply chain efficiencies. We need better productivity. That's what these sorts of commitments do, so I'd like to hand it over now to Andrew Constance. And I'm happy to take any questions after that.

CONSTANCE:     Thanks, Deputy Prime Minister. Can I just say this up front. I want to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister here today. There is no doubt, Michael and I working together over the last 12 months, have made an enormous difference, and it's the power of the State Liberal Government, Nationals Government, working with the National Government to get these results. Wouldn't matter if it’s the Coffs Harbour Bypass and Pac Highway through to the Nowra Bridge, and now of course, the Milton-Ulladulla Bypass.

                           I also want to pay tribute to Shelley Hancock who has advocated every minute of the day since she's been in Parliament to get this result today. Now there's a lot at stake on Saturday. The communities throughout the Far South Coast, South Coast need to remember what life was like under Anthony Albanese when nothing was done on the Princes Highway by the last Federal Labor Government. And you know, it's more than that. That's the point. We've got the power now of governments working together and for the first time we're starting to see the duplication of the roads and that's what matters to our communities.

                           We have lost 30 lives south of Jervis Bay in the last seven years, hundreds of people injured. And this is what today is about. It's about saving lives and that's what the power of government working at the state level and federal government level means for our communities. Labor have missed the mark. They've had every opportunity. They've failed dismally. It's not until we've seen the power of Michael McCormack, Scott Morrison, working in conjunction with Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro that we've seen an enormous change to our road budget and that's what's now at stake on Saturday.

                           I do also want to recognise both Warren and Katrina. Ultimately I know Warren has spent a lot of time sitting down with New South Wales Treasurer, and Katrina I’ve been with her in Parliament. Our message is simple. Put Labor last on Saturday. Preference them last. You know, it's not like the state election. It's compulsory preferential voting, so no matter who you vote for, make sure you put Bill Shorten and his local mouthpiece, Fiona Phillips, last on Saturday, otherwise this is not going to happen. It will not happen, and there's too much at stake if people don't do that.

                           So back in, back in Scott Morrison over Bill Shorten on Saturday and we can get this incredible result by working together.

HANCOCK:         Thank you. Well, first thing, good morning, and thank you very much, Deputy Prime Minister. Thank you Katrina, Andrew, of course and Warren Mundine, for being here today. This is a project very close to my heart. This is a road which has been gazetted since 1996 and after 16 years of neglect under State Labor, Federal Labor, nothing has been done. In our last commitment to the Princes Highway for nearly a billion dollars, we included planning for this project.

                           This means that this whole project will be expedited with $400 million. This is unbelievable. And again, reiterating the message from Andrew Constance, you vote for Bill Shorten, you won't get the Milton-Ulladulla Bypass which is so sorely necessary. The people of Milton and Ulladulla are so sick of congestion, and they're sick of the tragedies too, on the Princes Highway, that every Christmas and every Easter we have to have traffic management through these towns to get the traffic through. That's how serious it is.

So just like Berry. Trucks rumbling through those towns, the freight trucks which have to go through there. They've had enough. We've got to get on and build this bypass. The route is there. We've been buying property along the way, so we're ready to go. We've got some final planning, final detailed design. We're ready to go with this project. This money from the Federal Government, from Scott Morrison, from Michael McCormack, advocated for by Katrina Hodgkinson and Warren Mundine, are going to fix a major roadblock.

                           I think we've got to realise too, that the tourists traveling on the South Coast roads are now incredible, because this has become the number one tourist destination outside of Sydney. The tourists in their hundreds and thousands are using the Princes Highway, and there are road blocks all along the way. We've been fixing them. We fixed them in Berry with the bypass. Berry to Bomaderry is going to be completed now. Milton-Ulladulla Bypass, I can tell you, I can hear people cheering if they hear this announcement in Milton in particular, and Ulladulla. They are mightily sick of this traffic, so thank you so much for this hard work that you've put into this. To Andrew for advocating and working with Michael. We are so happy today.

BYSTANDER:      Let's keep them in.

HANCOCK:         One of my friends, one of my friends from Milton over there.

MCCORMACK:   They’re cheeing!

HANCOCK:         They're cheering, I told you they'd cheer. They're cockies from Milton. They know what it's like to travel and drive their trucks through that town to get up to here. So thank you, thank you everybody. I'm delighted. You can imagine, I'm delighted.

QUESTION:        Michael, you mentioned that Labor won't deliver and 80-20 split, is that something you'll commit to?

MCCORMACK:   Well absolutely, and Andrew and I have always talked about 80-20 splits. 80 Commonwealth, 20 state. That's how we roll with regional road funding. That's our commitment. That's always been our commitment. It's our commitment now and will be in the future as well. This won't get built under Labor. The fact is we're getting on with the job. Andrew and I have had long discussions about making sure that we get the right regional road funding in the right regional places. And we’re rolling out road funding is part of the Federal Liberal Nationals’ $100 billion record amount of money that we're spending on infrastructure, on roads, on rail, on ports, whether they be seaports or airports. We're getting on with the job of building the right infrastructure right across Australia.

QUESTION:        Why is it taking so long? Gareth Ward has been pestering Canberra for federal funding since 2011. Why in the dying death of this Parliament?

MCCORMACK:   Well, it's not the dying death of the Parliament. It's making sure that we get the right funding, and as I've just stated, we've got $100 billion that we're spending right around the nation. There are a lot of options for roads across Australia and, of course, the Pacific Highway was the priority. It was the priority identified by the State Government. It was the priority that we backed up the State Government on. We're getting on with that job. We're making sure that we build the tunnels at Coffs Harbor to complete that bypass that's been so badly needed. And we're getting on board with the Princes Highway. You've heard Shelley Hancock and how she's advocated for this. We're delivering.

QUESTION:        Will the bypass be built in the first term?

MCCORMACK:   Well, we'll make sure that we take on board what the State Government requires and we'll fund it 80%. And with the State Government, with the State Liberal Nationals Government, the Federal Liberal Nationals re-elected Government, we'll get on and build it as soon as we can.

QUESTION:        You've now got already, the story has broken just this morning, and you've got Nowra people saying, "What about us?"

MCCORMACK:   Well, indeed, and we can look at that, and you've seen with the Pacific Highway, right from Hexham to the Queensland border, it takes time to build these roads. We're getting on with the Princes Highway. The Princes Highway is a very long road. It goes, not just throughout New South Wales ... But we want to get on board and we want to make sure that we build these roads and we'll do it in an 80-20 split, with Victoria as well, with South Australia as well. Every state, every territory. When we build roads, when we put money on the table, real money, it's always an 80-20 split. Labor only ever offers 50-50 with these type of funding programs and projects.

QUESTION:        How lucky is it now that Gilmore is a marginal seat then for the punters?

MCCORMACK:   Well, it doesn't matter that it's a marginal seat. The fact is we're building the right roads, right across the nation, and whether they're marginal seats or whether they're so-called safe seats, I don't happen to believe that any seat is safe. And we're making sure that we build infrastructure wherever it's needed and making sure that we get the supply chains right, making sure that we get people home, sooner and safer. That's the Liberal Nationals way. We want to build the right infrastructure right across the nation and we're spending $100 billion doing just that.

                           And you can build this sort of infrastructure when you have a strong economy. When you've got a surplus that is in black, when you've got a surplus that actually with a budget situation that is building on an economy that is strong, when you've got budgets in surplus you can build more infrastructure.

                           You can't do it if you've running the economy into the ground. You can't do it when you haven't got the people able to fill the jobs. We are. That's what Liberals and Nationals do. We've had Josh Frydenberg lay down the blue-print for an economic future that is rosy and prosperous. Just last month the budget in surplus for the first time for 12 years. The last time federal Labor produced a surplus, they wouldn't know what the definition of the word was, was 1989. 1989. Just think about that. 30 long years ago.

                           Andrew Constance was probably in short pants back then when the fact is we're getting on and we're building the infrastructure that’s needed and we're doing it on the back of a strong economy.

QUESTION:        Mr. McCormack…

MCCORMACK:   Sorry about that Andrew.

CONSTANCE:     That’s alright (laughter).

QUESTION:        (continued) this is going to take a substantial portion of the funding that was announced by the Liberals and The Nationals. What about other crucial safety upgrades that people are asking for on this highway like the Jervis Bay Flyover?

MCCORMACK:   Indeed, good question. And with a strong economy we can put even more money into it. That's why I'm delighted that we're getting so much of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund money rolled out the door and invested in the water infrastructure projects that we need, because as soon as we spend that, we'll put more money into it. So as soon as we get these sorts of Milton-Ulladulla Bypass and other sections built and upgraded and fixed, then we'll look at putting more money in the bucket, and you can do it only when you've got a strong economy. You can do it only when you've got a budget situation that is in surplus, and that's what Liberals and Nationals do. We get the economy right. We fix up Labor's mess and then we're getting on with building the infrastructure that we need. Whether it's on the South Coast or wherever it is across Australia, that's what we do.

QUESTION:        Wouldn’t safety upgrades be more important than people getting stuck in a traffic jam?

MCCORMACK:   Well, and that's why we are investing in just that. We are investing in just that, and of course when people do get stuck in a traffic jam, often they make ill-advised decisions behind the wheel of a car, and that's when accidents do occur. And regional fatalities are far over-represented in the road toll and we want to make sure that the road toll comes down. We're doing everything we can, to do just that and this announcement today is going to help that situation.

QUESTION:        Mr. McCormack, if the coalition is going to deliver it, you've got two runners standing either side of you. Who should they vote for?

MCCORMACK:   Well people can make up their own mind as to who is going to deliver the best option, but I'll tell you what people should do. Vote for the Coalition. We need Coalition members right across Australia. We've got 151 seats, and we need more than 76 coalition members in seats in the federal Parliament going forward and that way, of course, we're going to get more jobs. That way, we're going to get less taxes. The Bill Shorten way ... you heard Andrew Constance before talking about the fact that Bill Shorten represents a clear and present danger to our economy, to our way of life. And certainly, to the retiree savings of the hardworking pensioners and the hardworking people of the South Coast.

                           We want to make sure that the retirees have the money that they need, that they've saved for, and that they can spend on the sorts of things that they want to spend on. We want to make sure that the small businesses around the South Coast have the lowest possible tax rate that they can possibly have. And that's what we'll do under a coalition government because that's what Liberals and Nationals do. We prioritise. We prioritise the cost of living and we prioritise what the people want, need and deserve.

QUESTION:        Are there fractures in the Coalition? Just with Jim Molan and the how to vote situation. People yesterday were talking about the Coalition imploding.

MCCORMACK:   Well, that's just journalists talking. The fact is we're getting on with making sure that we've got a united team, Scott Morrison and I. We're not only good mates but we've got an eye on the future for Australia. We've got an eye on the future cost of living. We've got an eye on the future reliable, affordable energy. We've got an eye on the future for more jobs. That's why, together, we've put $525 million on the table for a work skills programs, to invest in apprentices, 80,000 more apprentices. And particularly in (inaudible), so that employers can get apprentices, hire them, in so many sectors, and 75% of the wages paid the first year; 50% the second year; 25% the third year. We want to make sure that areas like the South Coast, that electorates like Gilmore can be their best selves. The only way that you can do that is with the Coalition government. The only way to do that is with the united Liberal Nationals team and that's what we provide.

QUESTION:        Bit of a change, Katrina and Warren that you two are here together for this announcement?

HODGKINSON:   It's a major announcement by the coalition, federally. It's great to have the Deputy Prime Minister here. $400 million for a bypass for Milton-Ulladulla is a dream come true for so many people. Look, the jobs that this is going to create for the local economy can't be underestimated. The great work that Andrew has done, that Shelley has done in this neck of the woods, continually advocating for the Princes Highway. I've heard them speak in Parliament about it so many times. This has been so long coming. When Bob Carr came into power in New South Wales, he stripped the regions of their roads funding and he put it into the metropolitan areas.

We suffered 16 long years under Labor in New South Wales, so now we've got a positive Coalition government at the state level, and also at the federal level, working together, working hard together, to get great results for the regions. And I've got to say, we will continue to focus on the regions as well, rather than the major metropolitan areas, because we deserve it. Too many lives have been lost. There have been 100 accidents, 100 injuries more on that Milton-Ulladulla stretch of road, over a five year period. It's been a very big accident area, so it's not just a community amenity. It's not just for convenience, people getting to places sooner and faster. But it's also most definitely to try to reduce our road toll. It's so important. Every injury, every death impacts on an entire community and we want to do whatever we can to reduce that road toll.

MUNDINE:         It's a great honour to be here with Katrina. We're partners in the most successful coalition globally, post-Second World War. The Coalition, the Liberals Nationals coalition has worked so successful for Australia, has won more elections than lost. It has provided the infrastructures that we so strongly need in this country, nationally across the whole area. And here, standing with our Coalition partners here at the state level, with the two Ministers, that shows the camaraderie. That shows the successful working relationships that we do need to make things happen.

                           And I'm very, very proud to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister who's announced an incredible announcement here today and continued to commit to doing more for regional and rural Australia. And this is what we all stand for. This is what we want to work for. The Labor party, all they care about is those inner cities, Sydney, and Brisbane and Melbourne places. They don't care about regional Australia. They've seen their partners in the Greens, and that, they look at jobs, taking away jobs in the region. They're attacking agriculture. They're attacking the mining industry. They're attacking everything that we so badly need in regional Australia, and if it isn't for regional Australia working and going ahead ... look at the exports that regional Australia produces. If we're not working together, we're not being a productive team, then Labor gets in, and Labor will destroy the bush, no doubt about that.

QUESTION:        (Inaudible) is such a marginal seat, are you worried about the impact pre-poll is going to have on Saturday?

MCCORMACK:   Look, pre-poll, it's the way it is. We've been out there every day, Katrina and myself. We've been working very hard on those pre-polls, working very hard with people. We're feeling good. It is a very marginal seat. Every vote is going to count. Look, we need to probably look post-election with the Australian Electoral Commission about the results of this pre-polling and see what needs to be done into the future. But we deal with the reality of today. Both of us are working very hard to get us this outcome that we so need for the Morrison McCormack government, and getting all our candidates, be they Liberal, be they National, up there and winning.

QUESTION:        Katrina, any news on matching the spend on outpatient services and mental health support at Shoalhaven Hospital that we talked about a couple of weeks ago in (inaudible)?

HODGKINSON:   We're investing record amounts into health and education, right across this electorate and right across the country. One thing I can tell you under Bill Shorten, well you just can't trust him. We've seen promises made by Labor in former elections, and then they've gotten into power and for some reason or other, the money must wasn't there. It didn't come through. We've seen them strip funding out of regional communities.

                           When it comes to elections and campaigning, Labor knows how to promise big, but when it comes to them actually serving in government, they do not deliver for the regions. So we say to everybody, really consider your vote. Think about all of these promises that have been made. I don't know where he's going to be getting the thousands of billions of dollars that he's promised all over the country, but I tell you what. They are a high-promising, but are very poor at coming through with their delivery, because we've seen it all before.

QUESTION:        So that's a no to matching at this stage?

HODGKINSON:   Well, we're investing record funding in health and education right across the country, including a new $5 million wellness centre for our veterans right here in Nowra. That's greatly needed. It is a fabulous announcement and I've been contacted by a number of veterans who are really pleased to be able to have a one-stop shop right here in Nowra, the heart of defence. This is defence central here in Nowra. We've got a lot of people working in the defence industry and we've also got a lot of veterans who need assistance. PTSD is a significant problem in this region and they want to be able to have a one-stop shop where they can go to get all of their needs met. So I'm really thrilled with that announcement.

MUNDINE:         And also we know the Labor lies. They're talking about cutbacks in education, cutbacks in health. These are all complete lies. We've seen more than 66% increase in school funding from when the last time that Labor was in. You know, the Deputy Prime Minister here and the Prime Minister here have worked so hard in ensuring those funds are out there, and we're confronting those lies. That 66% National, in this electorate alone there's 56% per student increased on education funding. When they look at the South Coast in regard to the health system, it's been up to about 200% increase in the funding that comes down here for health.

                           So we're out here battling those lies. You know they get out there and they're lying every day about what they do. I say to people, like Katrina does, we say, look at their track record, look at what they're saying, and I tell you where that money's going to be coming from, it's going to come from everyone's hip pocket. That's right, that's where it's going to come from and they're going to ... Michael here, has produced, with Josh Frydenberg an incredible budget which keeps us in the black, has no new taxes, has tax right relief for all Australians out there and still deliver the services that we do deliver, and increasing those services. And that's why we need to return.

ALL:                    Thanks guys.

 

Hannah Maguire