TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop - Safer Roads in Gracemere

O'DOWD:                             

Good morning everybody, it's great to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Greg Wallis, Transport Industry, Frasers and of course our local man Anthony Hopkins, not the movie star by the way, we'll call him Tony today. But it's here for important road bridges announcements for Flynn. This goes across the three, four shires in Flynn, namely North Burnett, Banana, west of Rockhampton and Gogango Creek, and north of Bundaberg and Winfield.

Now, there's 4.7 million dollars in different fields, it will be great for the area. It's about jobs and black spots, and that's what it's all about. The biggest project in the $4.7 million, is the $2.1 million truck bypass of Billaweela. Now this is a very important announcement; Billaweela and the Banana Shire have been crying out for this project for many years and I'm pleased to say that if elected, it will go ahead under a Coalition Government. It will be well received.

The people of Theodore are looking forward to an upgrade of their treatment plant; $400,000 dollars, the Gogango Bridge west of Rockhampton on the way to Emerald on the Capricorn Highway, they will benefit from this announcement. There's two major black spots in - one in North Burnett at the Ban Ban Springs Gayndah section of the road, there's a nasty corner there and that will be fixed; we've got $700,000 for that. Winfield in the north of Bundaberg north of Avondale that will benefit from $700,000 dollars.

So that's a black spot that's two less we have to contend with in the future but we are looking at black spots on roads, black spots in communication in mobile phone towers, this is another way of we are doing in regional central Queensland in Flynn. We are getting on with the job, alleviating us from these nasty sections of the road.

So, we want to bring the death toll down, we want to create jobs locally, and I hope all these contracts do go to local contractors. It's very important that we look after local jobs and I'm concerned at what's been announced yesterday, we are getting 100 new Centrelink workers, I don't know why, but is it anticipation of a loss of coal jobs in this area where we have 35,000 jobs on hold while Bill Shorten and his government make up their minds on whether the coal industry is going to survive or it's going to die under his government. That's why it's important for us, and for Michael, to look after the coal industry; look after all those jobs we've got out here whether they're in the coal fields, on the rail, or in the Gladstone Port or in the Hay Point in Mackay. These are very very important jobs and this $4.7 million is just another avenue for jobs, traded locally, done locally and the big business, small business will all benefit from this.                                               

Without any further ado, I'll hand you over to Michael and then we'll hear from people in the trucking industry who will benefit from these announcements today.

MCCORMACK:                       

It's great to be here with Ken O'Dowd, the member for Flynn, the hard working member for Flynn who gets things done and also very good to be with Tony Hopkins who understands the trucking industry, who understands how important it is to get livestock from paddock to processing centres, from paddock to markets. He understands better than anyone just how important these announcements are today, and Greg Willis he traverses the roads in trucks and Frasers of course have dozens and dozens of trucks in a number of centres particularly south; this is one of their sites here at Gracemere. He wants to make sure our roads are safer, he wants to make sure that of him and his colleagues in the trucking industry, for Frasers, that they get the stock from paddock, from farm, to market and from market to the processing plants. That's what this announcement is all about today. Better roads, safer roads, more bridges, better bridges.

$4.7 million dollars is an election commitment because Ken O'Dowd fought for it, $4.7 million of safer roads and bridges; $4.7 million worth of jobs because that's what this will be when it goes ahead.

We want to make sure that our livestock carriers, that our trucking industry in general and that all road users, have better road, better bridges and more of them. That's why this is so important for the electorate of Flynn, that's why Ken comes to me all the time lobbying and campaigning for more funding and today, he has once again, delivered.

I might hand over to Tony Hopkins who can make some more remarks about today's announcement, and then we'll hear from Greg Willis who is very much behind the wheel of these announcements, and very very much behind the wheel and understands just how important better roads are.

 

HOPKINS:                             

Good morning, thanks very much to Michael and Ken. I've worked very hard the last few years with both Michael and Ken for the future of the transport industry. One percent productivity gain in the transport industry is worth $1 billion to the economy of this country.

 

I believe we have a very safe transport industry as a whole, and it is always better that our infrastructure is brought up to a safety standard for the community and the other road users. It's very important that our country live off the agricultural and mining industry, and this is going to further ensure that we've got employment in this area, which is needed badly, and I do appreciate the announcement of the pledge that if they get back in government, that we will get these upgrades that are very desperately needed for our industry.

 

Thank you very much.

 

REPORTER:                           

Just a second before you go, can you just say your name and title.

 

HOPKINS:                             

Tony Hopkins, I'm the Director of Hopkins Brothers Transport and I'm also past President of the National Road Freighter Association. So I've had a fair bit to do on the last 5 years on the political side of it as well; fighting for the industry as a whole.

 

MCCORMACK:                             

He wears a few hats, and he's good at it!

 

WILLIS:                                   

Just to carry on a bit further with what the boys have said, we need more efficient and safe transport road system, and bridge system and parking area for the drivers because we share the road with a lot of other people and we just want to get the job done efficient with safety. We just want to get home to our families after we finish work, like most other people do and if it's got a better road system, more rest areas for us, and better bridge and bypass systems around some of the major towns so we can do stuff a lot more efficient, and that seems like a good announcement.

 

REPORTER:                            

Can you say your name and title?

 

WILLIS:                                   

Greg Willis, I'm Senior Driver for Frasers Livestock Transport.

 

REPORTER:                          

While you're there, how much of a difference does this - will this bypass make?

 

WILLIS:                                   

It saves us a lot of time and keeps us away from the general public, which can make disruptions or unforeseen circumstances like cars coming in front of you where you have to stop rather suddenly, so it's better for the welfare of the animals. That's the main thing is the welfare of the animals, we want to get them there as quick as we can, as minimal disruptions to their lifestyle in the trailers.

 

REPORTER:                           

Question for whomever. The last load of funded roadworks that were completed, transport officers down south are saying they were falling apart almost as fast as they were finished because the contractors who got the job because they were cheaper, weren't laying the screed properly, they were just band-aiding bitumen over bitumen What purview do you have to look at not only how much money's spent, but how it's spent?

 

MCCORMACK:                      

Well look, the Federal Government writes a cheque for 80% of usual funding announcements in regional areas. It's always 80% from the federal government and 20% from other stakeholders; usually Queensland, in this instance the state governments. The fact is we give the money to them for them to roll out the actual funding. We write 80% of the funding, they provide the other 20% but they then get on board with the signing contractors and actually building the roads, so it's up to the state governments to make sure that they get the right contractors, and it's up to the right contractors to make sure they build the roads properly.

We don't have that overseeing role, even though we provided 80% of the money; fact is Labor have said, and have made no secret of the fact, that they only provide and only will provide 50% of these sorts of road announcements, of these sorts of road projects, if they are elected.

There will be a lot of road projects, particularly in regional areas, particularly in central Queensland which will go unfunded because the state government won't stump up the additional 30% that they will be required to, under a Labor Government. So even though potentially it could be Labor Commonwealth and Labor State, the fact is there will be a lot of roads not built because the Queensland Government just won't get on with it. Under us we provide 80% of the money and then the state governments do the building work.

REPORTER:                           

If the Coalition's elected, how long will it be before we see this money for these upgrades?

MCCORMACK:                       

Well, very soon! We've got a $100 billion rollout of infrastructure right across the nation, so we'll get on and we'll build it. Ken O'Dowd will make sure just that.

REPORTER:

So why is Labor claiming we won't see any money for infrastructure until 2021?

MCCORMACK:

Well don't believe what Labor says; actually believe what Labor does. The fact is, we have been building the right infrastructure in the right places and we have been getting on and doing it. Labor; they just complain. They're lots of windbags, they get on and complain. You only ever hear half the story with Labor, you only ever hear half the story with Bill Shorten; he's shown that right throughout this election campaign.                                           

[Inaudible] he should come clean about such as the cost of the climate changes that he wants to implement, the cost of his emissions reduction target the cost of his renewable targets. The fact is, we get on and we build things. We are doers. Ken O'Dowd's an absolute doer, and absolute builder.                                     

You only have to look at the access road to Gladstone Port that he's getting along with to do; fact is the intermodal hub out at Emerald, he's got on, ticked those boxes. And when you look at the infrastructure roll out right across Flynn, right across central Queensland and compare it to what was done previously under the six years of Labor, well it's chalk and cheese! We get on, we put asphalt down on unsealed roads. Fact is we build better bitumen, on roads that are already sealed. We write the cheques for just that and we want to make sure that our people, that all people are getting home sooner and safer; whether they're truck drivers carting coal or whether they're carting whatever they might be, live stock you name it.                                   

We want to get goods to port. We want to get goods to markets. We want to get goods to production factories. We just want to get on and do it, and make sure as Greg Willis has just said, they want to make sure they get home to their families. That's their right; we want to be able to make sure they're able to do just that.

REPORTER:                         

Ken, how confident are you about your chances in Flynn?

O'DOWD:                     

Well leading off on that question from Laura, I find that in 2016 I had four main road contracts.

The [inaudible] Bypass in Gladstone; $20 million dollars - not started, Valentines Bridge west of Gracemere - not started, the six passing lanes between Gracemere and Emerald on the Capricorn Highway - not started, the $70 Million from Gracemere sale yards to the roundabout at Yeppoon - not started.

It frustrates me to hell to think what are the Queensland government doing, and what are the main roads doing in not even starting these jobs? And every time I ask the question they say oh it's still in design stage. Now I don't know how long it takes to design passing lanes for instance and this is what frustrates me and I think it's a deliberate hold back by the state government in my electorate of Flynn to say that I don't do anything.                                     

I've actually $600 million worth of infrastructure programs, some of them have gone ahead but like Rookwood Weir; now that was supposed to be started after the big wet that we didn't have this year, but it's still not started and that's what frustrates me as the member for Flynn in getting all of these projects up. But because we are dealing with the state government who are really tardy in getting these projects onto the ground.

When you talk about the quality of roads, I've actually had a go at the contractor on occasion, and they say Ken do not talk to us about the quality of your roads that we've built, we do it to main road specifications. So if you've got a problem with the specification of our main roads, you go back to our main roads department.

REPORTER:                           

Are you confident you can win this seat though?

O'DOWD:                             

I think we've got the right policies to win and I'm pretty confident.

MCCORMACK:                      

And the right candidate.

O'DOWD:                              

And the right candidate.

REPORTER:                           

Is today's announcement a pitch to rural voters in your electorate?

O'DOWD:                            

Most of my electorate is rural. Flynn is twice the size of Tasmania, so most of it is rural apart from Gladstone, Emerald, Gracemere and Billaweela are the bigger cities areas, but mainly it is rural.

REPORTER:                           

What are you going to do about rural health? Issues like obesity are huge around here, what's your plan for that?

O'DOWD:                            

What have we got? We have the MRI units in Gladstone, we've got a shortage of doctors in the area; I'm working with regional doctors Ewen Mcphee from Emerald who's President of the Rural Doctor's Association, I'm working with him. I'm working with the CQU who are - what we are trying to do is train doctors locally here through the CQ University and hopefully we can retain 80% of those people we train here locally. We've got a much better chance of retaining them in the country areas, then trying to recruit doctors or interns from Brisbane, or Sydney, or Melbourne where there's actually an oversupply of doctors, but trying to get them out here in the rural areas is another task.

REPORTER:                           

What do you make of Zac Beers comments from yesterday about you’ve been asleep at the wheel, when it comes to road infrastructure?

O'DOWD:                             

Who's been asleep at the wheel? I've must explained that I've got projects from 2016 where there's money on the table, so who's been asleep at the wheel? Is it the Queensland Government or is it the main road development?

REPORTER:                           

Are you concerned that's not going to happen again with these projects?

O'DOWD:                             

I hope not, I hope not. If we face another state election next year, and I hope the Liberal National Party can get into government so we can get these projects up and completed.

REPORTER:                           

Ken, you've got some Labor heavy weights in Gladstone today. Do you think Labor think they're a shoe in to win Flynn?

O'DOWD:                             

I think they're over confident, that's for sure. They shouldn't be, with their policies un-costed, no outcomes at the end of it. They want to shut down mining; they want to give the boot to retirees. How can they win this election on their policies? We've got the policies.

MCCORMACK:                      

I'll tell you what the Labor heavyweight’s should explain, is when they come to central Queensland, should explain the Just Transition Authority that Bill Shorten wants to implement across Queensland. Just transitions. So he wants mining workers to go out of what they're doing, and that is producing mining wealth, exports, energy needs and supplies for the rest of Australia, and indeed hope and optimism for many of the regional communities that Ken O'Dowd and George Christensen and Michelle Landry and others represent. What he wants to do is turn them into something else, something they're not used to, something they're not trained. We can't all be coffee makers, we can't all be baristas; that's what Bill Shorten and Labor and all his heavy weight mates want to do; is that they want to transition everybody who's a miner, and many of those people aren't necessarily high vis workers who go underground and dig stuff up out of the ground; they're people who work in offices, they're highly skilled engineers, they're scientists. They also work in the mining industry, and he wants to transition them into something else as well. Well we can't all stand behind a coffee machine and make coffees for people who are unemployed.

Ken O'Dowd, he wants to make sure that there are jobs, there are jobs for the future. He understands the importance of the mining industry here in central Queensland and unlike Zac Beers, he's going to get on and fight for the mining industry, he's going to get on and fight for jobs, and he's going to get on and fight for central Queenslanders. That's the Ken O'Dowd I know, that's the Ken O'Dowd I want to continue to serve in parliament with and I know on May 18th the people of Flynn have got a real choice. They've got a choice between somebody's who's a fighter, somebody's who's delivered, somebody who's achieved these things and somebody who just stands up behind a bloke called Bill Shorten who stands for nothing. The only thing Bill Shorten stands for is himself, and he's not quite even sure of that some days.

REPORTER:                            

What do you make of Bill Shortens’ announcement of 100 Centrelink jobs in Gladstone?

MCCORMACK:                      

Well he wants to bring those Centrelink workers down so that he can implement his Just Transition Authority. I mean, Ken O'Dowd stands up for the 35,000 mining workers in central Queensland. Is Bill Shorten going to stand up for the 35,000 mining workers? No he's not. Is Zac Beers going to stand up for the 35,000 mining workers? Certainly not.                                             

Ken O'Dowd is. He's going to stand and he's going to fight with them to make sure that they have a job. To make sure they have an income, and to make sure that their families can continue to provide the hope and optimism that all central Queenslanders - I come from New South Wales, but I see in Queenslanders a special type of fight. And I see that I this bloke beside me and I'm going to stand beside him and fight right here, right now, and into the future because he's going to continue to deliver the jobs for Queenslanders and the hope and optimism that they deserve.

REPORTER:                          

So Ken, if you are re-elected have you got the coalition's last minute tick of approval for that most recent stage of Adani to thank for that do you think?

O'DOWD:                           

Adani is one issue, but we've got a lot of other issues and we are getting on with water infrastructure in the North and South Burnett. In Emerald where the dam is now 21% it was down to 11 %. Water infrastructure is very important as well as the coal mining jobs, so I think there's a whole raft of good policies, for aged care for instance.

We are getting older, we are living longer but we've got to have the facilities for our age care people to go into. Gladstone hasn't got a retirement village; we are working on that. We have got 84 beds for aged care, once that facility is completed. That's the sort of things we're doing; Adani is very important, but there's a lot of issues very, very important to me. Thank you. 

[END]

Hannah Maguire