4 March 2013

Interview with Adam Spencer, ABC 702 Sydney Breakfast

Note

SUBJECTS: PM's Western Sydney visit; road funding, second Sydney airport

SPENCER:

Hope you're well on this Monday morning the fourth of March and if you're waking up in the west of Sydney you might wonder 'Hey how much love can we handle here?' The Prime Minister's there, Tony Abbott is there and they are both making their presence felt. Julia Gillard's first infrastructure announcement will come today: we have confirmed with the Prime Minister's office that the Daily Telegraph is right in their front page exclusive about the M4 East and the WestConnex motor way but on the Prime Minister's terms. Billions of dollars on the condition of construction include a freight network to Port Botany as well as a CBD tunnel link to connect the West to the city and the M4 motorway will remain toll free. Well David Bradbury is the Assistant Treasurer and the Labor Member for Lindsay, one of the marginal seats in Sydney and if the wipe out in Western Sydney happens for Federal Labor he'll be pretty much the first one to go if the polls are correct at the moment. Mr Bradbury joins us now, David Bradbury thanks for your time.

DAVID BRADBURY:

Good morning Adam good to be with you.

SPENCER:

I know the election is not till September 14 but the campaigns pretty much begin today don't they?

BRADBURY:

Well to some extent when you are a Member in a marginal seat like I have been for the five years since I have been a Member you know it is very hard to separate campaigning from the business of what you do day to day. People expect you to be out there listening to them, acting on their concerns. I work around the clock and have been doing so for 5 years now representing our community and I don't think it's a bad thing, I think people welcome the fact that their local representatives, and in this case their national representatives, are, you know, treading the pavements of Western Sydney and making sure that the importance of this region of almost 2 million people is recognised and understood.

SPENCER:

But David Bradbury when the experts are now saying that seats that Labor holds by 10 or 11 per cent in Western Sydney are to be considered to be the marginal seats if the polls go the way they have indicated at the moment but their talking catastrophe, they are talking wipe out, they're talking decimation, in Western Sydney. How did it get this bad? This used to be Labor Party heartland, this used to be seats where the Liberals almost didn't bother campaigning they were so safe Labor.

BRADBURY:

Look I think that I'd much rather be talking about the things that we plan to do for the people of Western Sydney than ‚Äď

SPENCER:

Well don't worry about that Mr Bradbury we'll get there but the reason the Prime Minister is there all this week is because if the numbers follow the way they have there will be once in lifetime devastation for your Party in what used to be one of its safest areas in Australia. How did it get this bad?

BRADBURY:

Well, I have never taken my electorate for granted and I made the point that people that often talk about Western Sydney as being heartland are often people that don't understand the region. It's a very diverse place. There are a range of different communities that form Western Sydney, it is not as if it is one homogenous place. But in terms of our determination to deliver for the people of Western Sydney, that's undiminished. We've got many great local Members that are out there working hard for their communities. Trying to make sure that the challenges that we all face in this region - and we know about that because most of the Labor representatives in their region live here, are bringing up family or have brought up their families understanding the challenges that we face. There are some particular challenges; one is terms of freedom of movement across the western parts of Sydney. It is particularly challenging, I know that because I travel on the same roads that all of my constituents do and that's why one of the announcements that the Prime Minister is making later today will be very much welcomed, I think, by people in our region.

SPENCER:

Would you accept that Mr Abbott's already laid down the gauntlet for the funding of the WestConnex?

BRADBURY:

Look, I think Mr Abbott has shown that he doesn't understand what the current WestConnex proposal does contain. First point to make here Adam is there is not a lot of detail that has been provided so far on what the NSW government actually wants to do but the detail that they have provided has shown some major flaws in their proposal. Now let me just explain that. The first thing is that this is meant to be WestConnex, it's meant to connect; you would think that WestConnex connects something up. What it fails to do is what people in Western Sydney, particularly those that have been using the M4 for years, know the number one problem is to connect the M4 up with the city. This is a WestConnex project that doesn't connect Western Sydney to the city. So there is a major flaw in the current proposal and just to add insult to injury not only are we being offered up here in its current form a motorway that doesn't connect Western Sydney up to the global city of Sydney, but what it does is it seeks to slap a toll on people for driving along existing parts of the M4 that people are currently driving along where they don't pay a toll. Now this is ludicrous. We think it's important that a serious investment in infrastructure in Western Sydney be made. I know that's important to people in my community but we are going to do it on terms that will actually deliver for people. At the moment this is not a plan for the people of Western Sydney (inaudible) make it one that delivers.

SPENCER:

If the Prime Minister is talking about delivering for Western Sydney, in particular delivering job for Western Sydney, why is your Government presenting Wilmont as a potential place for the second airport when all the experts say Badgerys Creek? It's right there in Western Sydney, it would be a jobs and infrastructure boom. Why is the Government dragging its toes on what just about everyone is saying should be the location of Sydney's second airport?

BRADBURY:

Well once again I am always pleased to hear people from outside Western Sydney telling people in Western Sydney that Badgerys Creek is the answer to their problems. You know, frankly this has been a debate that has been going for as long I have been living.

SPENCER:

It has but almost always the expert opinion has come down on Badgerys Creek as the site.

BRADBURY:

Look, look people may well have formed the view that Badgerys Creek was the right site 30 years ago but you can't on the one hand say the problem is people aren't listening to the people of Western Sydney and then offer up this solution of 'I'm going to tell the people of Western Sydney what they want'. I can tell you Adam, I have talked to a lot of people in my community and if you believe that this is something that the people of Western Sydney want or are asking for then you're not talking to the same people that I am talking to. You can't on the one hand accuse politicians of being out of touch with their communities and then when they seek to stand up for their communities want to start to tell them they they're not serving communities properly. The reality is go out there and talk to people. There are many people that have moved into the community well and truly after they have been told that this airport was not going to go ahead and consistently that has been the message that has been sent out to people. New release areas are being rolled out in and around the existing site. Now you can't go and tell those people all of a sudden we have decided we are going to turn around and go ahead and do something that someone decided was a good idea 30 years ago.

SPENCER:

In the specific polls that we have been talking about Mr Bradbury your people, the people of Western Sydney, have told you that if the Prime Minister was replaced by Kevin Rudd you have a much better chance and might even possibly win the upcoming federal election. Are you listening to your people and the people of Western Sydney on that specific point?

BRADBURY:

Well -

SPENCER:

Because that is something that they and most Australians have been telling you for a long time now.

BRADBURY:

Well Adam I'll let you obsess about the polls, what I'll tell you is when it comes to jobs I'm actually more focused on the jobs of the people in my community than my job. I know people find that really hard to believe and this fundamental problem here is that people think 'oh shock horror, poll tells politician he is going to lose his job so why wouldn't he dump his leader?' Well, look, you know, unfortunately some of us actually have a focus on trying to commit to public service to do things that we will think will make a difference to the people in our communities and I have got to tell you Adam, no amount of polls is going to distract me from the thing that I am single-mindedly committed to and that is working hard for people in my community in outer Wester Sydney to make sure they have jobs, job security. And let's be clear about this, if we don't win the next election that is going to hit Western Sydney residents in the pockets in a huge way if Mr Abbott gets in and does what he promised to do and that is to rip away a whole raft of compensation measures, whether it be tax cuts that we have delivered to people, increases in family assistance, and just don't forget about this one, Mr Abbott has a policy to cut pensions. If he gets elected he'll be the first Opposition Leader that I can remember that has gone to an election promising to cut people's pensions, that is what he wants to do. That will hurt people in my community. That is what I am focused on trying to get the message out on. So that we can make sure that we stop that from happening

SPENCER:

Speaking with David Bradbury, he is the Member for Lindsay and the Assistant Treasurer. John from Albury is on the line and has a question. How are you John? What would you like to ask?

CALLER:

Yes my question for David is about Gonski and the Gonski reforms. Will we see before the election Gonski in its entirety or possibly a watered down version instead? We need to see it before the election. We know Gonski is effectively dead after the election if the Coalition gets in.

SPENCER:

Lovely to speak to you John, thanks for your time. David are we going to see significant movement on the Gonski report before the Federal election?

BRADBURY:

Well that's central to our plans, that is central to our plans so certainly as part of the budget process we will be providing further detail. Obviously we have got the COAG discussions that are coming up in April and they will be critical because you can't dance the Gonski waltz without your state partners in tow. We need to work very closely with those state partners to make sure that they come along with us on the ride. Now we are working very hard to do that. It seems as though some of the states are out there thumbing their nose at our efforts but I do make the point that I don't always agree with the NSW Government but when it comes to Gonski they appear to be ready to talk. I guess the thing that concerns me is that their track record has been one of ripping money out of education. We need them to join us in stepping up to the mark and increasing our investment in education but the point that the caller did make very correctly is that Gonski and delivering for student with more investment in education is what we're about. If you want those reforms to be gone-ski then vote for the other mob.

SPENCER:

Ok we've got Paul from Mulamby who wants to ask a quick question, what would you like ask Paul?

CALLER:

Oh hi look, within a generation we have gone from having the cheapest housing in the OECD to I think second most expensive in the world now, and our politicians have done very little about the housing crisis that is facing the entire country. I'd like to hear what Labor plans to do to make housing more affordable in Australia.

SPENCER:

David Bradbury you must see the tax concessions given on capital gain and things like that; as Assistant Treasurer you must lick your lips and think there is room there.

BRADBURY:

Look, you know I have always been very sceptical of this talk around dealing with some of those tax concessions by removing them. If you look at what happens around the world there are a range of different treatments, and you can't sort of strip something away without it having an impact in terms of investment in new houses. But I'll make this point, that interest rates are lower today than they have been at any time that I can remember and an average family in my electorate, if you have got a mortgage of $300 000 a year, you are paying $5000 a year less in interest repayments than you were when we came to office. Now intertest rates, keeping interest rates low is an important part of the picture; making sure we have a timely release of land with appropriate services and infrastructure has been the critical and fundamental challenge. Now that is the biggest issue in terms of addressing some of the housing affordability questions that we face across Sydney. Can I make this point though, that the challenge of home ownership has in part been affected over the period that your caller just referred to because of the globalisation of our economy and the globalisation of land prices generally. When you live in a global city then ultimately that will have an impact on prices more generally that flows through right across the [inaudible] and I know that this is a huge concern that people have but I'll just make this final point: that people are actually feeling more pressure renting today than many people who are paying off mortgages and that does come back to the land supply issue. We have been trying to work with the States to address some of those concerns but as you appreciate, zoning and planning issues are principally within the responsibility of State Government.

SPENCER:

We are right out of time. Mr Bradbury I'm sure a lot of people trying to pay off their mortgage would disagree but thank you very much for your time and it is lovely to speak with you.