The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

26 April 2013

Doorstop interview

Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Rebuilding Brisbane's RiverWalk; Flood Assistance; Clive Palmer; Bruce Highway

BRISBANE LORD MAYOR GRAHAM QUIRK:

Well ladies and gentleman welcome to Howard Smith Wharves. I am joined here today by the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Wayne Swan. Also Robert Taballuci, Assistant Minister in the Queensland Parliament, representing the Premier this morning. Also we have the Deputy Mayor Councillor Adrian Schrinner and Councillor Vicki Howard who is the local Councillor. Also representatives of John Holland Queensland represented here this morning.

We are here to announce that John Holland Queensland have been awarded a tender to reconstruct RiverWalk. The new structure will not be a floating structure, it will be a fixed structure. Work on this project will commence in May and it will be completed in the middle of next year. So some of the manufactured parts of RiverWalk will be undertaken here in Brisbane, in fact some of it here on site at Howard Smith Wharves. But the piling will commence in July. That will go through until February next year and then the backfill, if you like, for the surface of RiverWalk will be progressively completed again through to the middle of next year.

The good news out of this is that we anticipate that there will be change. So we look forward at the end of this construction to giving a cheque back to the Federal Government and the State Government. It is a project that has been funded on a 75 per cent Federal Government, 25 per cent State Government-basis. Can I say for Council's part we have spent a lot of time and effort making sure that we do get the design right. This is a structure which will have a one in 2,000 year flood resilience. It is about making sure that this 850 metre structure will be here for a long time. The asset is designed for a one hundred year life. And so we respect the fact that the Federal and State Governments are putting in the hard cash for this particular reconstruction. We thank them for it. That is why we have spent a lot of time and effort to makes sure that taxpayers' money will be wisely invested and will be here for the long term. I would just like to say with respect to the winning tenderer John Holland Queensland. They have got a long history in Brisbane in terms of some of the assets that they have created. But particularly in terms of the Goodwill Bridge, the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, were two landmarks projects that they have undertaken. I would like to ask Deputy Prime Minister Swan to make some comments.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much Lord Mayor. I am very proud to be here this morning for this announcement. I am sure Queenslanders and particularly Brisbanites all remember the floods back in 2011 and the enduring memory is parts of the RiverWalk floating down the river.

It has taken a while to get here today, but we are here and that'ss great. The Federal Government is making a very substantial commitment to this project: of the $72 million, $54 million dollars [is funded by the Commonwealth Government] . Part and parcel of an immense commitment by the Federal Government to Queensland over a couple of years in terms of flood reconstruction. Something like $9 billion into Queensland since 2010 in terms of flood reconstruction. There are projects like this taking place right across Queensland, because we have been through some of the most extraordinary floods, not only in the history of the State, but in the history of the country. So of course reconstruction takes a while and we have got to make sure that we get good value for money. I believe that we will get good value for money here. And it is a good thing that jobs are going to be created on ste here through this project. A couple of hundred local jobs in construction, in Queensland for this project.

As a Brisbanite, I know how important RiverWalk has been to this city in recent years. So to get it going, and to get it completed,is a really important achievement for the city as well. But right across the state, there are construction projects are going ahead. Construction projects which are badly need, which support jobs and which provide that vital infrastructure that does need to be replaced given the damage that we have suffered in this state from floods, not just on one occasion, but three and four occasions in different parts of state. And we are committed to continuing to work with the Brisbane City Council, local government right across the state and the State Government to make sure that Queenslanders get their state reconstructed. Thank you.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

LORD MAYOR QUIRK:

Look it is a fixed price contract. But when you re dealing with the river there is always going to be variables. But it is a fixed price contract. Yes.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

LORD MAYOR QUIRK:

Well there are other aspects of the whole contract which we just need to leave a little bit of flexibility. But I am confident that we will be able to at the end of the day provide a cheque back to the Federal Government and the State Government in proportion to their contributions.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

LORD MAYOR QUIRK:

Look I am not anticipating that. We have done a lot of work in the early stages to make sure that we get the design right. There has been a lot of preliminary effort to make sure that there is not going to be a blow out. Now the Federal and State Governments have given a fixed amount of money in relation to this project and that is clear. And we will make sure that we bring this in under budget. We have got flexibility in terms of the fixed priced contract and indeed the contingency that has been built around it. But I am very confident, very confident that we will be handing a cheque back to the taxpayers of Australia and the taxpayers of Queensland.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well we have got a set of arrangements with the State Government through the reconstruction authority here to make sure that we get good value for money. We put those arrangements in place for the first time in our history back in 2011 given the fact that billions and billions of public money was going into reconstruction. Now the Lord Mayor has made it very clear that he thinks this contract is going to be brought in under price and that will be a very good thing and that is what we look forward to.

JOURNALIST:

But there will be no more money?

TREASURER:

Well we are contributing something like $9 billion since 2010.There is the money available for the reconstruction and we are not anticipating providing more.

JOURNALIST:

Clive Palmer is making a bit of a political comeback. Do you think he will go again for your seat?

TREASURER:

Well I think what we know is that Mr Palmer likes to throw his money around and he has certainly tipped plenty of money into the LNP both federal and state. So I would anticipate that Mr Palmer has now withdrawn, he said he has withdrawn because the LNP and Mr Abbott in particular are controlled by vested interests. I guess he is pretty upset that he doesn't control the LNP anymore but other vested interests do. I think that is a damning indictment on the LNP and Mr Palmer.

JOURNALIST:

He said your government (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

The thing about our Government is that we govern for all Australians. We're out there, we don't bow down to vested interests like Mr Palmer. But now Mr Palmer is out there saying that the LNP is controlled by lobbyists. Now Mr Palmer tipped a lot of money into the LNP I think he had a lot of say, and now that he is on the outer he is saying that other lobbyists and vested interests are controlling the LNP. I think that is a damning indictment of the conservative side of politics. From our point of view, over a period time….

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

But Mr Palmer has been a card-carrying member and life member of the LNP. I am never been surprised what he'd say about the Labor Party. But I am extremely surprised what a life member, a card-carrying member for over 30 years of the LNP is now saying about the LNP, he is saying the LNP is controlled by vested interests. Now Mr Palmer has put millions and millions of dollars into the LNP over many years, and now he is on the outer. He is now saying it's controlled by other vested interests. So I think what that demonstrates on the conservative side of politics is the control that vested interests have on Mr Abbott and the LNP.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Well Mr Palmer has been a lifelong member of the LNP. He knows a lot about the LNP. But he doesn't know much about the Labor Party. He has been an opponent of the Labor Party all of his political life, and he has been a warrior for the LNP all of his political life.

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

Yes but that is precisely what I am saying. He is now saying that the LNP is controlled by lobbyists. That is his judgment about the LNP.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan have you been briefed on the cyber-attacks on the ABS?

TREASURER:

No I have not been directly briefed on the cyber-attacks by some elements out there in recent days. But what I can say is that all government departments have taken precautions against cyber-attacks and the Bureau of Statistics is no different.

JOURNALIST:

How many attacks have actually taken place that you know of on the ABS?

TREASURER:

Well I think there are a number of attacks that have been reported not just on the ABS but on a number of departments. But you would have to go talk to the ABS about the detail of that.

JOURNALIST:

How concerned are you though that sensitive information may have been compromised?

TREASURER:

I don't believe that sensitive information at the ABS has been compromised.

JOURNALIST:

Who do you think are behind the attacks?

TREASURER:

I don't speculate about that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any ideas?

TREASURER:

Well it is not my job to speculate where they might come from. These are matters of national security and are dealt with in that way.

JOURNALIST:

The LNP looks to have done a U-turn on Bruce Highway funding?

TREASURER:

Well I am really distributed about what is going on in terms of the LNP and the Bruce Highway because this is a really serious issue for Queenslanders. The Federal Government, the Gillard Government has put a comprehensive package of investment for the Bruce Highway,a plan for the future for the next ten years or so. Whereas the LNP is simply all over the place. And we see today that Mr Hockey has repudiated Mr Truss. This is too serious an issue for the internal politics of the LNP in Queensland to mess up. So we'll get on with rebuilding the Bruce Highway as we are and on that side of politics just shows what policy chaos there is.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Swan, I'm sorry I was late earlier (inaudible) RiverWalk today. Would you mind summarising the Federal Government's contribution?

TREASURER:

Well the Federal Government is contributing $54 million in terms of the reconstruction of the RiverWalk here. It has taken a while. We made our original commitment back in February 2011 in terms of putting money on the table. But it is a welcome development here today to see that the RiverWalk is going to be reconstructed and finished by the middle of next year. But I also made the point that the Federal Government has contributed $9 billion to flood reconstruction in Queensland since 2010 and there are projects like this taking place right across our great state because we have suffered some of the worst floods, some of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country in the last few years, andof course that costs a lot of money. The Federal Government has been a willing partner to work with the State Government and local governments right across the state to reconstruct our state and make sure we put back in place this critical infrastructure not just for our economy but for the quality of life in our major cities and towns and rural areas. That's why I am proud to be here today as a Queenslander to see another piece of vital infrastructure going back in to reconstruct this city, and this particular area of the city following the floods of 2011.