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

21 June 2013

Doorstop interview

Joint doorstop interview with
Chris Trevor
Federal Labor Candidate for Flynn

Gladstone

SUBJECTS: Labor's investments in Central Queensland; National Plan for School Improvement; GP Super Clinics

TREASURER:

It's really good to be here with CT today – with Chris Trevor. Standing here today at the Calliope Crossroads is an indication of what has been achieved in this area by Chris Trevor over a long period of time. Back in 2007, when the Government was first elected, Chris Trevor was through my door and through the door of many other Ministers, talking to them about what regions like this really needed so we could maximise the opportunities for economic growth and jobs but also for the quality of life of people who live in a fast growing region such as this.

I think it would be pretty fair to say that CT was a serial pest. He was through the door every day of the week talking about the needs of this region, and of course this region is a great economic powerhouse in the Australian economy. Tens of billions of dollars of investment in this region over the past five years have driven economic growth, driven jobs, but also provided a need for investment in fundamental infrastructure so the economy can operate efficiently and of course, so we can increase the quality of life for many locals, and projects like this are absolutely essential.

So the $150 million worth of federal money being invested here is a result of the Federal Government's recognition of the needs of the region and it has been driven by Chris Trevor who understands just how important it is to get first class infrastructure into growing regions just like this. This project is just in addition to what has been achieved with the Kirkwood Road project, what's been going on with the Yeppen Roundabout, what's been happening in terms of investment right throughout the region; all federally-funded projects. The upgrade, for example, at the Gladstone Airport, $5.5 million, and as I said before, projects like this.

Now, of course growing regions like this need an active member and Chris Trevor needs to get back into Federal Parliament so we can continue to get this investment driven in this region. And of course it's not just about critical economic infrastructure, it's also about our schools. And at the moment the Federal Government has an offer to the Queensland Government of $313 million over six years extra for schools in Central Queensland and the State Government and Premier Newman are not accepting that offer. Time is running out for Premier Newman. The deadline is the 30th June. It's a very generous funding offer from the Federal Government to the Queensland Government so we can lift the quality of education in every one of our schools across this State including here in Central Queensland. And he needs to get on board and stop bowing to Tony Abbott and refusing to accept this federal money which will see additional resources go into local schools so all of our kids can get the best start in their schooling.

So what we need to see is some progress from the Queensland Government to put the kids of Queensland first and the interests of Tony Abbott last and get behind the federal school improvement program that needs to be signed off by the 30th June. Over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Why is the Government moving families off Manus Island?

TREASURER:

Sorry, could I just take some local questions? I'm sure there are plenty of people around here that are actually interested in what's going on in our economy, in jobs, and growth in this region. I notice they're the questions that people are asking me and CT when they move around the community.

JOURNALIST:

Gladstone Council says that while this project is good it's constantly missing out on Federal Government funding. I guess the latest example would be the Regional Development Fund that it was -

TREASURER:

Sorry can I just back up a bit there. This region has had very substantial Federal Government investment over the past five years and there will be more Federal Government investment in the five years ahead when the Government is re-elected. But to say that it is constantly missing out is simply not the case. There are many dozens of federal invested projects in this region. Yes, there was an example where they didn't get a grant in a recent round, but there will be more rounds of that particular program. But I can tell you this, with CT on board down there lobbying, there's a good chance that many more projects will be approved as well. This area needs vigorous local representation and the way to get it is to get CT back into the federal Parliament doing what he has done that produce projects like this here at Calliope.

JOURNALIST:

You're inspecting the GP Super Clinic after this. What do you think about the criticism today out of the Courier Mail?

TREASURER:

Well, the GP Super Clinic here is just another example of the work that CT has been able to do, but of course these things take time to put in place, particularly when it comes to planning laws, when it comes to the structure of local health services. The GP Super Clinic here is welcome. So I think a lot of that criticism is pretty unreasonable frankly, and we're going to see why when we visit the GP Super Clinic later today.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think there will be any problem attracting doctors here when the cost of living is just soaring?

TREASURER:

Well, we've invested a lot in training more Australian doctors over the last five years to increasing the supply of medical professionals, not just doctors, but nurses as well, and we'll continue to do that. This is a great region to live in. You know if you had your choice of where you wanted to go around Australia this has got to be one of the top spots to live, to work, and to find good opportunities for recreation.

JOURNALIST:

If we go by what the polls say, in the next federal election Labor won't be in. So why should locals vote for Chris Trevor to be in the seat of Flynn if he would be in Opposition?

TREASURER:

Well, isn't it really disrespectful the way in which everybody is calling the outcome of the next Federal Election based on opinion polls months and months away from the election. I just think this discussion that we see every day in our newspapers is bizarre. I think we ought to respect the views of the Australian people. We're going to be putting our views to the Australian people. The Opposition will put theirs.

I can tell you what, the sort of investments that are happening here right now wouldn't ever happen under Tony Abbott because he's made it very clear that he's going to cut spending to the bone. He's going to hack into spending in health, and education, and infrastructure. He doesn't back the sort of investments that we've got here or the investments that we are going to make in Australian schools. And I think when locals around here look at that choice, a Federal Labor Government with a great record of investment in this area, not just in heavy economic infrastructure, but in our schools, disability care, I think there's a pretty clear choice. And there's a really clear choice locally. Someone who has achieved here, someone who has got the runs on the board standing here, $150 million because Chris Trevor got stuck into it in Canberra, got this investment going and of course this project will be finished by the end of the year and early next year. Projects like this take a long time to happen and they only happen when you have effective local members of Parliament who understand the needs of their community and can communicate with a Government committed to investment in economic infrastructure.

JOURNALIST:

Why is the Government moving families off Manus Island and is that a permanent decision, not to house families there?

TREASURER:

Well, I'm not buying into any discussion of those issues. They're for the Minister of Immigration.

JOURNALIST:

Tony Abbott's in Townsville today outlining plans for a North Queensland plan to boost population. What do you think about that?

TREASURER:

I think it's pretty weird actually that Tony Abbott somehow pretends that he's got a plan to grow Northern Australia when he doesn't have a funded policy. He's just got a thought-bubble. We're out there investing in infrastructure in northern Australia, right up the Queensland Coast and around through to the Northern Territory. Also, investments in schools, investments in roads, investments in energy projects, commitment to fundamental economic infrastructure, which Tony Abbott doesn't have. In fact Tony Abbott says the Government is spending too much in these areas and he's going to dramatically cut that spending. So I think it's a pretty bleak future for Northern Australia with a Government that's committed to European style austerity policies if they were elected, that would be a very bleak future for Northern Australia. We've got a government committed to regional development particularly in Northern Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Chris Trevor, would you like to see Kevin Rudd return to the leadership?

TREVOR:

Look, I think I've made my position very clear in national media in relation to that issue, and that is that currently Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia. I elected to stand for this seat under her Prime Ministership and that is the end of the matter at this point in time.

Can I just say in relation to this project before we finish off today that I'm very, very proud not only of the Federal Government who supported this project in Canberra but also the local workers from Goldings.

Now in 2007 we were faced with a severe Global Financial Crisis that hadn't been experienced in Australia since the Second World War and Gladstone suffered immensely as a result of the Global Financial Crisis and the Federal Government stepped in to support local jobs in this community. It supported local jobs via Kirkwood Road and it supported local jobs by this project. And thankfully local people from Goldings worked on both of these projects and continued to work on this particular project which makes me very proud because a lot of these good men and women who are working on this project could well have been unemployed and could well have been unable to put food on their family's table.

This project is an example of what Federal Labor has done for central Queensland. It's a prime example of us investing in rural and regional Queensland. It's also an example of what the LNP won't do if they're elected on the 14th September this year because Tony Abbott refused to commit funding for this project. Now this project is one of the most popular projects in the whole of Gladstone. Every politician in Gladstone wants to own it but at the end of the day the only people who are responsible for this project is Federal Labor. Now I want to make that very, very clear. Tony Abbott refused to commit funding for this project and but for Federal Labor this project would never have happened. Thank you.