Interview with John Burns, 3AW Breakfast

Share
Transcripts

JOHN:

We are having the following discussion with Kelly O’Dwyer Member for Higgins and Minister for Revenue and Financial Services because Malcolm Turnbull will today announce a historic $5 billion pledge to finally build a rail link to Melbourne Airport.

Minister good morning.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Good morning.

JOHN:

The only problem to my eye reading this story is that it’s actually going to cost $15 billion so where does the other 10 come from?

KELLY O’DWYER:

We think it is going to cost around $10 billion and there is currently $30 million that has already been committed in last year’s budget to do the business plan to find out exactly what the cost will be because there are four different routes that we could potentially go with and we obviously want to go with the very best one.

JOHN:

Obviously but where is the other $5 billion come from.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well the Government wants to commit in partnership with the Victorian Government to make this historic and iconic piece of infrastructure actually happen on the ground.

JOHN:

Got it – so half and half.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Half and half – it’s a 50-50 and it is an equity partnership. One of the things that we have found in the past is that state governments have treated the federal government a little bit like an ATM, where you hand over the money and sometimes the money either isn’t spent or is spent on other projects. We know that the best way to actually get delivery of this project, which has been talked about for around about 48 years, the best way to actually get delivery is to go in 50-50 partnership to make it an equity partnership to make sure that we can get it delivered. And we’ve said straight away we’ll put $5 billion on the table. Obviously we’ll see the business plan, we’ll see what it ultimately costs, but there’s $5 billion ready to go today.

JOHN:

Righto, got all that. So there are four potential routes outlined in the Herald Sun this morning, one of which has 13 stops from the airport to Southern Cross and working its way down to one that only has four stops. How many stops do you reckon there should be between the airport and Southern Cross?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well look, my own personal view is that you want it to be as efficient and as quick as possible. When you think about all of the other international airports in the world, when you think about London, when you think about Paris, when you think about New York, they’ve all got very fast transport links, so you can actually get to the city very quickly, and I think that is frankly what we need to aspire to here in Melbourne. I mean we have got one of the busiest roads in Melbourne, Tullamarine Freeway, you’ve got around about 210,000 vehicles a day going on that road and congestion I think is one of the biggest issues in our city. We’ve already got around 34 million passengers that are catered to with Melbourne airport. Within 15 years, we’re going to see that number reach about 64 million passengers. Now that’s on par with Heathrow at London, and if we want to be able to expand and get more people to and from the airport, if we want our roads to be eased in terms of congestion, then we actually have to build the infrastructure, the world class infrastructure that we need in this city, and that’s what we have said we will do.

JOHN:

When is this feasibility study going to be completed, do you know?

KELLY O’DWYER:

By September of this year.

JOHN:

Okay, so September of this year, you’ve got $5 billion to put on the table. Is that conditional on the State Government coming up with the other $5 billion? In other words, you’ll put it on the table and if we don’t match it you’ll take it off us?

KELLY O’DWYER:

No, no. We’ve put the $5 billion on the table. We would fully expect the Victorian Government would grab that $5 billion and get on with the project. And that’s because it is so vitally needed in this state.

JOHN:

When do you reckon it will be built?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well look, I understand you could potentially start work as early as 2020. Now obviously it will depend on the business plan, it will depend on the route that is finally determined. But we need to be able to get on with delivering it. I mean we’ve talked about this as I said for more than 48 years now. Melbourne Airport itself was opened in the 1970’s by my predecessor in Higgins, John Gorton, and we’ve been talking about it since that time, and it’s taken Malcolm Turnbull and our Government to finally actually say “it’s got to be delivered”.

JOHN:

Good on you Minister. Kelly O’Dwyer, Member for Higgins, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.