30 April 2019




NADIA CLANCY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BOOTHBY: I’m Nadia Clancy, Labor’s candidate for the seat of Boothby and I’m really excited to be in Boothby this morning with Steve Georganas, Penny Wong and Peter Malinauskas.

We have a really exciting announcement that’s going to make a huge difference to many members of our community. It will mean less time stuck in traffic and more time being where they want to be which is spending time with their loved ones and families.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Thanks very much Nadia. Well it’s great to be here with Peter, Nadia and Steve. Such great candidates, Federal Labor candidates, and of course the State Leader of the Australian Labor Party here in South Australia.

Well, we’ve got a good announcement today. It’s an announcement that’s about reducing congestion. It’s an announcement about making South Australians safer and it’s an announcement that demonstrates yet again Federal Labor’s commitment to infrastructure here in South Australia. *boom gates noise* And here we go, here’s the trains.

This level crossing here between the peak hours in the morning, the boom gates are down for about 33 minutes in the morning. That’s a lot of congestion. We can see that congestion around now. We know about 35,000 vehicles transit this intersection and we know that level crossings are risky. We know that there are safety incidents and sometimes with tragic consequences.

So I’m very pleased to announce today that the Federal Labor will invest $105 million to get rid of this level crossing. $105 million to ensure that South Australian families who use Cross Road, use this intersection, don’t have to hang around at the level crossing during peak hour for as long as they do and also to ensure that this is a safer crossing, a safer intersection for South Australians.

It is a great announcement for Boothby, but it’s a great announcement also for Adelaide and all South Australians who use this road. I don’t live far from here and I can tell you it’s a pretty busy road.

One of the things I would reference about this is, this is a project which has been pressed by State Labor. It was part of the former South Australian Labor Government submission to the Federal Government. We’ve stepped up to the mark, *horn beeps* – good on you mate, see he wants the level crossing removed as well – we stepped up to the mark and I hope that Steven Marshall can do the same thing. He needs to do that.

And this really demonstrates that, yet again, you’ve seen Bill Shorten here announcing funding for South Road. You’ve seen Anthony Albanese here announcing more infrastructure funding. We are serious in Federal Labor about funding infrastructure in South Australia because we understand it matters. It matters to South Australians, it matters to their families, it matters for jobs and the economy.

PETER MALINAUSKAS, SA LABOR LEADER: Thanks so much Penny, Nadia and Steve. This is an absolutely fantastic announcement from Federal Labor. We saw at the last state election State Labor take to the people a policy of a $1.3 billion commitment to remove the seven worst level crossings in South Australia.

Unfortunately, since the state election Steven Marshall has abandoned those plans. But more recently we’ve heard Federal Labor commit real funds, real funds to remove three level crossings in metropolitan Adelaide. What we now need is Steven Marshall to step up to the plate so we can actually get these level crossings removed.

The fact that here at Cross Road the boom gates are down for in excess of half an hour between the hours of 7AM and 9:30AM. That means a massive congestion problem for people who are using Cross Road and the surrounding areas. Similarly at Torrens Road in Ovingham those boom gates are down for 36 minutes between that same time period. So at Torrens Road, Ovingham and here at Cross Road we see massive congestion problems between the hours of 7AM and 9:30AM.

All we need now is Federal Labor to win the election and Steven Marshall to put actual money in his State Budget and we will see this problem resolved.

Unfortunately there is a lot of concern in the community that South Australia is on a path to an infrastructure valley of death. So what we need is real money, not out on the never-never but actual money in the forward estimates so we can see some real jobs, some hardhats at projects like this that remove congestion and deliver a positive outcome for our state’s economy. Federal Labor’s effort needs to be matched by the State Budget if we are going to see some real progress.

I want to thank Nadia Clancy and Steve Georganas for the advocacy of this project. I want to thank Penny and Federal Labor for actually committing some real funds. I want to see some action on infrastructure to actually address some real problems when it comes to traffic congestion.

WONG: Before we go to questions can I just make one contribution about Mr Palmer. Scott Morrison’s deal with Clive Palmer demonstrates his desperation. He is prepared to do a deal with anyone in order to try to cling on to power. Nobody who knows Clive Palmer would believe that this will mean, under a continued Coalition Government, anything other than more chaos and more cuts.

But there’s a particularly important issue for South Australia which the Advertiser has reported today. Mr Palmer’s policy is to scrap the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. That’s who Scott Morrison is going to try to govern with if he wins the election, if he clings on to power. He’s going to try to govern with a bloke who not only underpays his workers but who wants to scrap the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

So if South Australians have a look at this, what they will see is a desperate Prime Minister who doesn’t care how he gets back into power. Who offers more of the same, more chaos and more cuts, but he’s gone one step further and he wants to govern with a bloke who wants to tear up the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Now if you ever wanted to demonstrate how the Federal Coalition don’t care about this state, and what matters to us, it’s this deal. We already know they spent six years trying to undermine the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. We’ve already seen Barnaby Joyce saying that the extra water that South Australia was promised had no hope in Hades of been delivered. We know what Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals think of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and now we have absolute confirmation that Mr Morrison doesn’t care about it either because he’s prepared to do a deal with Clive Palmer who wants to scrap the plan.

South Australians should be very worried about Scott Morrison doing a deal with a bloke who wants to scrap the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. What this makes clear is that in this election a vote for Scott Morrison is a vote for Clive Palmer, is a vote to scrap the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

JOURNALIST: Senator, do you genuinely believe though that the United Australia Party will be a significant player in this election?

WONG: Absolutely they will, absolutely they will and you know who has made them a significant player? Scott Morrison. That is who has made them a significant player. If you have the Prime Minister of the country cutting a deal with a bloke where he gives them their second preference in the Senate, who is going to have the power in the Senate if Scott Morrison is elected? Who does he govern with?

I’m Labor’s Senate Leader. I can tell you it is tough for government to get legislation through the Senate and if you put a few Palmer people into the Senate that is a recipe for chaos under a Morrison Government and it is a recipe for the scrapping of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and that’s something South Australians should be very concerned about.

JOURNALIST: Steve Dixon, the One Nation candidate, what’s happened to him?

WONG: I’ll let him respond to his behaviour, but I do think this; it says something about Pauline Hanson that she sacked him over this but she wasn’t prepared to sack him when he goes to the United States to try to drum up millions of dollars to undermine Australia’s gun laws. What does that say about Pauline Hanson?

JOURNALIST: Just back on today’s announcement, we’ve obviously heard the Coalition make their own announcements in Boothby around grade separations. Are they plans that Labor will match if they win office?

WONG: We’ve said we will match them but I’ve got to say – and Peter references this – if you have a look at the infrastructure spend in South Australia from the Coalition there’s a lot of it on the never-never. There’s a lot of that requires you to vote for Scott Morrison not once but twice. That means voting for Nicolle Flint and others who don’t believe in acting on climate change, who don’t believe in investing in renewable energy. You have to vote for them twice before you get a lot of the funding from the Federal Coalition.

JOURNALIST: What about specifically Torrens Road, Ovingham, and Brighton those level crossings. They’re significant for South Australians also. Will Labor commit to upgrading those?

CLANCY: Labor has committed to upgrading the Hove level crossing which is a real pain for a lot of people who live in the Brighton area. I don’t know about Ovingham because it’s not in Boothby.

WONG: We’ve committed to match their infrastructure spend but more importantly we’ve committed to better it. In fact if you look at the investment in South Road that Bill Shorten came to South Australia to announce, it’s very clear that it’s Federal Labor which is prepared to get on with this very important infrastructure project early rather than pushing it back out as, unfortunately Mr Marshall and Mr Morrison have now committed to.

JOURNALIST: So have you committed specifically to the Ovingham?

WONG: Yes.

MALINAUSKAS: Federal Labor’s commitment, in fact the Labor Party’s commitment generally on infrastructure, is a real point of difference at this federal election in comparison to the conservative side of politics.

Federal Labor is committed to not two level crossings but three which is a point of difference to the Liberal Party. But the key thing that is going to hold these projects back now is whether or not Steven Marshall will match this funding in the State Budget. None of these level crossings are going to be addressed unless Steven Marshall decides to commit to infrastructure in South Australia.

And then when it comes to South Road all we have heard from the Liberals is talk about funding out in the never-never. In fact the only money they have put in the forward estimates is in the last of the out years, which is different from Federal Labor, which is of course committed to bringing that money forward so we start seeing some action on South Road in the next four years.

South Australians can’t afford to kick back and wait for the out years before we start seeing some real action on South Road. Let’s just look at the points of difference from what has occurred when Federal Labor and State Labor worked together on South Road. We saw the South Road Superway, we saw the Torrens to Torrens Project initiated and we’ve also seen the Northern Connector. All part of Federal Labor’s commitment to the North-South Corridor. From the Federal and the State Liberals, all we hear is commitments that are beyond the forward estimates. What we need is action now and I’m very grateful for the fact that Federal Labor is delivering on them.

JOURNALIST: The State Health Minister has said that KordaMentha are doing a good job in the public hospitals with making savings. Do you have a statement to make?

MALINAUSKAS: You would expect the State Government to give themselves a pat on the back. I think what South Australians want to see when it comes to our health system is some of the key performance indicators heading in the right direction.

We’ve seen reports today of paperwork being dealt with more speedily but that doesn’t necessarily improve patient outcomes. Look at hospital ramping for instance that problem is getting worse not better, and we haven’t even seen the start of the flu season yet. So we are very hopeful that we see some good results in health rather than all talk.

If hospital ramping is getting worse not better, if we’re seeing hospital beds get closed with more to come, we have a great concern that we are not going to get the appropriate action that we need in the lead up to this year’s flu season.

JOURNALIST: Peter just on the flu, is it good enough that a large bulk of ambulance service staff are yet to get their flu vaccinations at the start of the month?

MALINAUSKAS: The government’s handling of the flu vaccinations has been completely botched. We are hearing reports there are over 100,000 doses of flu vaccine sitting in the warehouse but meanwhile frontline medical staff at Flinders Medical Centre and the ambulance service aren’t getting the vaccine that they need. The elderly aren’t getting the vaccine that they need.

We’ve got this absurd situation that the State Government is out there calling for people to get vaccinated but the elderly can’t get vaccinated. We have seen reports frontline medical staff can’t get vaccinated while there’s 100,000 doses of the flu vaccine sitting in the warehouse. What we need is for the Health Minister to get his act together, to actually start initiating a plan that’s going to make a difference.

JOURNALIST: Is it a risk though to have frontline services staff and personnel like ambos not vaccinated at this point in time?

MALINAUSKAS: The State Government has arranged for politicians and bureaucrats to get vaccinated but frontline staff aren’t. Of course we need them working as much as we possibly can get out of them across the course of the flu season.

If we have got frontline staff – that is nurses, doctors – unable to attend to work because they’re sick, that compromises our health system generally. It’s about time the State Government started getting their priorities right and make sure that frontline staff are being vaccinated rather than politicians and bureaucrats first.

JOURNALIST: What’s the vision here? What do you get for $100 million? Do we have a massive bridge or an underpass? What is going to happen here?

WONG: The total cost of the project is likely to be around $210 million. So our expectation, as per most infrastructure projects, is that Steven Marshall and the State Government needs to stump up and that’s based on work that the South Australian Labor Government did.

Obviously there are a range of options. You want the most cost-effective option and as Peter said. We’ve committed to at least three level crossing upgrades. I hope that the State Government could, and how they arrange the tenders for that, they do a bit better than Barnaby Joyce did on water and make sure that we can maximise the benefits to taxpayers.

JOURNALIST: There’s no pretty drawing of a bridge or trees chopped down?

MALINAUSKAS: No, because the State Government hasn’t done the work. At the last state election State Labor put a fully funded proposition to the people with a view of establishing a level crossing removal authority to start doing that design work. We’ve seen it work well in Victoria, there’s no reason why it can’t work well in South Australia.

It’s also worthwhile appreciating the economic benefit that we can see from the removal of level crossings, particularly where there is a freight line. In terms of that return on investment, we know that it is quite dramatic when you see level crossing removals take place on busy intersections, high-volume traffic roads with a large amount of freight, but also where we see a freight train trade line involved as well.

So this has a large amount of economic benefit to it. It has a lot of jobs associated with it but of course an extraordinary convenience provided to the locals as well.

JOURNALIST: So just to clarify, Labor’s commitment today would fund half of this?

WONG: Correct. It’s a total project cost estimated at $210 million. We are funding 50 percent and that’s a pretty normal arrangement across states and territories for federal governments.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.